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Digital Subscriptions > The Strad > September 2019 > CHANGING EVERYTHING AND NOTHING


At the end of last year violinist Christian Tetzlaff made his second official recording of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in two live performances, resulting in an interpretation much more in keeping with his own personal understanding of the work

This is my second official recording of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto, 13 years after my first, made in Zurich with the Tonhalle Orchestra under David Zinman. An even earlier one is an unauthorised taping made at a runthrough with Michael Gielen conducting the SWR Symphony Orchestra Baden- Baden, at which we tried out some alternative readings from Beethoven’s autograph score; amazingly, a CD was circulated commercially without my even knowing about it! And the recording is still available.

I wouldn’t be re-recording the Beethoven if I were completely happy about my previous attempt. Although Zinman and I got on very well, we saw the piece from completely different angles, and the result was, of necessity, a compromise I didn’t feel comfortable with. Additionally, in the intervening years I have developed as a player and interpreter, and feel much freer now. It didn’t seem superfluous to have another go at the concerto at this stage. ‘My’ Beethoven Violin Concerto has undergone many changes in the 40 years I have been playing it, but actually nothing has changed! The basic style, tempos and dynamics are for the most part non-negotiable; there may be a certain margin as far as the tempo is concerned, but beyond a certain point it will no longer hold together.

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About The Strad

We talk to the members of the Belcea Quartet and ask why more young people are turning to period performance. Students of Kató Havas pay tribute to the late violin teacher, and there’s a look at asymmetric instruments. Plus a Mendelssohn Masterclass and Renaud Capuçon’s Life Lessons.