WORKS: Violin Concertos; Sinfonia Concertante, KV 364
PERFORMER: Thomas Zehetmair (violin), Ruth Killius (viola); Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century/Frans Brüggen
CATALOGUE NO: GCD 921108 (hybrid CD/SACD)
Nearly 20 years have elapsed since Thomas Zehetmair recorded these concertos with the Philharmonia Orchestra, and since then he has increasingly engaged with period performance.
Right from the opening tutti in the First Concerto, there’s a brighter, less upholstered sound, which Zehetmair picks up in his first entry. His phrasing shows a new sharpness and a greater sense of rhythmic freedom.
As in the earlier set, the cadenzas are his own, but here they have a more improvisatory feel, and are better integrated into the music. Although these performances were recorded live in several venues, the sound is consistent and always clear.
Zehetmair directed his entire earlier set from the violin: here he shares the honours with Frans Brüggen, in the Second and Third Concertos, and the Sinfonia Concertante.
But while the tuttis are more detailed in their balance and shaping, there’s not always the same depth and acuity of timing that Zehetmair manages on his own, and his playing is somehow less settled.
The biggest disappointment is the Sinfonia Concertante, where the outer movements seem rushed, and the andante never achieves its intended serenity. Returning to the recent Carmignola-Abbado set, I found a feeling that every note matters urgently, and that the music is fresh-minted. Even Zehetmair at his best isn’t quite as good as this. Martin Cotton