Brahms: Violin Concerto; Double Concerto

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

LABELS: Teldec
WORKS: Violin Concerto; Double Concerto
PERFORMER: Gidon Kremer (violin), Clemens Hagen (cello); Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra/Nikolaus Harnoncourt
CATALOGUE NO: 0630-13137-2
Tretyakov, battling an unquiet audience, gives a virile, high-pressure reading of the Brahms Violin Concerto, often exciting but not very nuanced. The wind harmony that opens the slow movement is the most like a rustic village band I’ve heard in a long time, but the occasional touch of peasant earthiness in this work is not out of place, and is of a piece with Tretyakov’s fiery account of the finale. In the Double Concerto, Viktor Feigin is a magisterially authoritative partner, though again this is a broad-brush performance. The orchestral contribution is rough in places: the timpani semiquavers in the first movement recapitulation, always a difficult passage, are a mere dull noise compared with the Concertgebouw timpanist’s immaculate playing for Harnoncourt.


In the Violin Concerto Tretyakov plays Joachim’s cadenza; Kremer, more enterprisingly, plays Enescu’s. Kremer is smoother and suaver throughout, with tenderness as well as drama. The approach here (and even more in the Double Concerto, where he and Hagen seem of one accord) is almost chamber-musical, but with plenty of punch and power for the big moments. These, too, are live performances, though you wouldn’t know it: satisfying and thoughtful interpretations, even if not, I feel, destined for classic status. In the Double Concerto, Kremer and Hagen have introduced some ‘hitherto unpublished’ versions of passages in the solo parts, without any justification. The most notable, at the very end of the work, is in fact a suggestion of Joachim’s which Brahms firmly rejected before publication! Calum MacDonald