Brahms (1833-97) devoted much of the 1880s to his three Piano Trios, having decided, as he told a friend, that there was “no further point in attempting an opera or a marriage”. They are among his less familiar chamber works. He originally wrote No 1 as a young man, overhauling it more than three decades later in 1889. All three works – the B major Op 8, C major Op 87 and C minor Op 101 – have a tender, shadowy intensity, without quite the same heart-on-sleeve fervour of the bigger chamber works. The string players here – brother and sister Christian and Tanja Tetzlaff – are regular quartet partners. Together with sensitive pianism from Lars Vogt, ensemble is alert, accurate, never forced: already a favourite CD.
The Violin Concerto is the reason you want to buy this album, but the "filler" is quite intriguing. Christian Tetzlaff plays the Concerto (Opus 47) with great intensity. If Thomas Dausgard with the Danish National Symphony Orchestra doesnt' quite match him, they don't pull him down either. The recording is wide ranging and well detailed.
The greatest of Mozart's wind serenades and the toughest of Alban Berg's major works might seem an unlikely pairing, but in an interview included with the sleeve notes for this release, Pierre Boulez points up their similarities. Both works are scored for an ensemble of 13 wind instruments (with solo violin and piano as well in the Berg) and both include large-scale variations as one of their movements - and Boulez makes the comparisons plausible enough in these lucid performances. It's rare to hear him conducting Mozart, too, and if the performance is a little brisker and more strait-laced than ideal, the EIC's phrasing is a model of clarity and good taste. It's the performance of the Berg, though, that makes this such an important issue; both soloists, Mitsuko Uchida and Christian Tetzlaff, are perfectly attuned to Boulez's approach - they have given a number of performances of the Chamber Concerto before - and the combination of accuracy and textural clarity with the highly wrought expressiveness that is the essence of Berg's music is perfectly caught.
This performance of the fiery Fantasy in G minor for violin and orchestra, Op. 24, of Josef Suk, with violinist Christan Tetzlaff catching the full impact of the irregular form with its dramatic opening giving out into a set of variations, is impressive. And Tetzlaff delivers pure warm melody in the popular Romance in F minor, Op. 11, of Dvorák. But the real reason to acquire this beautifully recorded Ondine release is the performance of the Dvorák Violin Concerto in A minor, Op. 53, a work of which there are plenty of recordings, but that has always played second fiddle (if you will) to the Brahms concerto. Tetzlaff and the Helsinki Philharmonic under John Storgårds create a distinctive and absorbing version that can stand with the great Czech recordings of the work. Sample anywhere, but especially the slow movement, where Tetzlaff's precise yet rich sound, reminiscent for those of a certain age of Henryk Szeryng, forms a striking contrast with Storgårds' glassy Nordic strings. In both outer movements as well, Tetzlaff delivers a warm yet controlled performance that is made to stand out sharply.
Ondine's successful partnership with violinist Christian Tetzlaff continues with a new release. The new recording contains the two Violin Concertos by Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975), two powerful works by the composer originally written for David Oistrakh. Christian Tetzlaff has been considered as one of the world's leading international violinists for many years, and still maintains a most extensive performing schedule. Musical America named him "Instrumentalist of the Year" in 2005 and his recording of the violin concertos by Mendelssohn and Schumann, released on Ondine in 2011 (ODE 1195-2), received the "Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik". Tetzlaff's recording of the Mozart Violin Sonatas (ODE 1204-2) was chosen Gramophone Magazine's Editor's Choice and Recording of the Month by the BBC Music Magazine. Tetzlaff's previous release on Ondine featuring the Schumann Violin Sonatas (ODE 1205-2) was also chosen Disc of the Month by the Gramophone Magazine.