Mozart was the composer said to have a direct compositional connection
to God, but with this recent Deutsche Grammophon "The Originals"
release, violinist Wolfgang Schneiderhan makes a compelling case
that Mozart was not alone. Beethoven's Violin Concerto
is one of the most sublime works in the classical repertoire,
and it is amply demonstrated with this new reissue by DG. The
performance, one of the most famous on record, has been remastered
using DG's "Original-Image-Bit-Processing" digital mixdown.
This process was developed in conjunction with the "4D"
technique that Deutsche Grammophon use on their recent CD's.
As listener, you are given a fairly close seat to the stage ,
with Schneiderhan placed directly in front of the orchestra. The
Berlin Philharmonic are set in a wide soundstage that will extend
the boundaries of your speakers. The strings, timpani and horns
are well preserved, with the rest of the winds slightly less so.
The soundstage is not particularly deep, but is still quite believable
within the bounds of the Jesus-Christus Church in Berlin.
Let me say that I fully agree with legendary moniker of these
recordings. Schneiderhan is one of those rare artists that convey
the essence of the music. Tempos are perfectly judged and are
shared with a purity of sound that is beguiling. Subtle rubato
is used to great effect throughout the first two movements, and
the Rondo is paced to perfection in order to allow the
concerto to follow its logical conclusion.
Wolfgang Schneiderhan uses his own cadenzas adapted from Beethoven's
piano arrangement of the Violin Concerto. He shines in
these unique adaptations, and the timpani, so crucial in this
work, are used to wonderful effect.
Eugen Jochum and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra are stellar
accompanists. The depth of string tone and tuning of the winds
are constant joys in these performances. The timpanist, who plays
a pivotal role in the Beethoven, is outstanding. To hear a truly
great string section, turn up the volume and listen to the first
movement reprise of the opening tutti played fortissimo. Magnificent.
Mozart's Violin Concerto No 5, while lighter in tone, if
not spirit, compared to the Beethoven Violin Concerto,
is also given a great performance. This 1967 recording, made five
years after the Beethoven, is a model of delicacy and taste. The
Schneiderhan sound is back, with flawless intonation and effortless
phrasing. Elegance and true musical pleasure are your rewards
in this performance.
"The Originals" reissues are a wonderful opportunity for collectors to obtain many legendary performances at mid-price. I urge all lovers of the Beethoven Violin Concerto, no matter which recording(s) you own , to seek out Schneiderhan and company. Understated genius awaits you. Highly recommended.
-- Anthony Kershaw