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fuwen

Beethoven Violin Concerto op. 61

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This is the particular classical piece that I am actually collecting the different versions of it:

 

Beethoven (1770-1827)

Violin Concerto in D major, op 61.

 

It was composed in 1806, and within the same period Beethoven also composed symphomy no. 4 and 5, piano concerto no. 4, piano 'appassionate' sonata and the 'Rasumovsky' string quartets.

 

As usual first performance was not successful and not until 1844 did the young virtuoso Joseph Joschim together with Mendelssohn performance on the concerto made it became one of the important violin concertos until today. Amoung the four great violin concertos (Beethoven, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Mendellssohn) it is also generally agreed that the Beethoven one is the greatest of all.

 

The concerto was composed in 3 movements: a very long and elaborate first movement Allegro ma non troppo, a very gentle second movement Larghetto and a dance like and lively third movement Rondo.Allegro. As usual at Beethoven times it was common that the composer would leave the cadenzas to the free play of the soloists. In this case there is generally a longer one before the end of the first movement, a very short one between the 2nd and the 3rd movement and a moderate one near the end of the 3rd movement. The cadenzas has many versions, though the most commonly played one was the one by Fritz Kreisler.

 

To me this violin concerto actually does not sounds like one. The way the first 2 movements were written the orchestra part play an imprtant role and can make the solo violin sounds like accompaning the orchestra and many of the main themes were given to the orchestra. It is only in the third movement the violin begins to take the lead and make the movement sounds more like a convertional instrument concerto. Nevethless it is the way the first 2 movements were written demand the maturity and intelligence of the soloists to make them sounds great.

 

With this post I attached this recording by Anne-Sophie Mutter with Kurt Masur conducting the New York Philharmonic. This I believe is the first Beethoven violin concerto released in SACD by DG 471 633-2. Togehter with the concertos are the 2 romances for violin, no. 1 in G major and no. 2 in F major.

 

For different violist the duration of the concerto can be very different. This Anne-Sophie recording is the record longest in my collections, a total of 27'08+11'00+10'08. Just the first movement is a lengthy 27 minutes!

 

I find that most sololists will approach this concerto in a slower tempo and that makes the first movement very grand. Anne-Sophie interpretation of the Beethoven in this recording (2002, live) is not the same as the 'normal' way of interpreting this works. In fact Anne-Sophie has now adays very much stretching the dynamics of the instrument. So much so that I believe that it will become either u like it or u hate it type of situation. Nevertheless I am still amazed by the way she can make the violin sings. Sometimes I really try very hard to figure out how she creats those tonal characteristics of the violin.

 

If you can accept very different interpretation of a traditional piece u can definitely consider this recording. Recording though to me is average and I do not quite like the way the orchestra is recorded. But within this album the Romances are definitely well performed and in a manner that should be acceptable by all. The romances were said to be the early versions of the second movement of the violin concerto but were not used.

 

I will recommend some more 'traditional' interpretations of the Beethoven concerto shortly, in case u do not want to take risk with this one.

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Edited by fuwen

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This one I am going to recommend is still not the Beethoven violin concerto playing in the 'convertional' way. Indeed this one is the fastest among my collection, a direct opposite of the Mutter one above, and the feeling is especially so for the first movement.

 

Jacha Heifetz, Charles Munch conducting Boston Symphony Orchestra.

 

The total play time is 20'34+8'45+8'23 (the Mutter one is 27'08+11'00+10'08). Just the first movement the difference is already 7 minutes!

 

This interpretation is really very fast. So much so that some people will not like it. So much so that if u do not pay attention u can easily miss his notes. But this version is one of my favourite versions, but I would not say this is THE version of the concerto. By playing it fast there are some music that will be different from playing it slowly. Whether this tempo Heifetz adopted is correct or not it is defintely debatable but even the very famous and demanding Toscanini also conducted in the same tempo with Heifetz in one of the RCA mono recording.

 

The cadenzas used were by Auer(modified by Heifetz) for the first movement and by Joachim (also modified by Heifetz) for the third movement.

 

The picture I posted here is the XRCD24 version by BMG Classics/JVC JM-XR24003. This is probably the most expensive Beethoven Violin Concerto u can buy, at approx S$50 for 38 mins of music and just the concerto.

 

There are cheaper version of the same recording out there:

BMG Classics RCV Victor Red Seal 9026-61742-2 (together with Brahms violin concerto)

BMG Classics Living Stereo 9026-68980-2 (together with Mendelssohn)

 

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This is one Beethoven violin concerto that I felt is about right and conventional. Soloist is the very demanding Christian Ferras, who himself has not many recording available. The very fantastic accompanist Karajan conducting Berlin Philharmoniker. Tempo is on the slow side but the effect is grand, something typical of Karajan. Also because of Karajan, the recording of the solo violin and the orchestra is very balance and u can hear lots of nice details on the orchestra part.

 

Candazas used were by Fritz Kreisler

 

DG 447 906-2

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Edited by fuwen

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Another one. Very good Pinchas Zukerman as the soloist. Daniel Barenboim conducting Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra.

 

Candazas used were by Fritz Kreisler

 

DG 463 078-2

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Edited by fuwen

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Oh yes, the one recommended by cmk the Perlman version is very good. This EMI art series may not be easily available now. Perlman also used the candaza by Fritz Kreisler.

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Ok, recommending this one by a female soloist:

 

Anne-Sophie Mutter as soloist, Karajan conducting Berliner Philharmoniker, DG 413 818-2

 

This one is not the same as the one above, which is her lastest recording on Beethoven done in 2002. This one was recorded in 1980, when she was probably about 18. Although Beethoven violin concerto demands a fair bit of maturity to play well, a few artists did recorded it when they are about 18, some examples besides Mutter are Hilary Hahn and Vanessa Mae. What I find interesting about this Mutter recording are:

 

1. A very well played Beethoven, and with a style of a young and budding soloist and u are not able to get this style again when the soloist gets matured.

2. The violin recorded is very very airy. The sonic is feminie and gentle (u are unlikely to get the same with male performers) and sometimes when I am moody the 2nd movement can really comfort me (YMMV).

3. And as usual Karajan presented a very well balanced orchestra and soloist parts.

 

Candaza used was Fritz Kreisler.

Edited by fuwen

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The label, soloists, orchestra and the conductor are all not familar to me at all. The special thing about this 2-CD album is it bring together one of the most popular of all violin concertos with its much lesser known double, the piano concerto, transcribed by Beethoven himself as soon as the original was completed.

 

In this 2-CD set u have the Kiev Camerata conducted by Virko Baley performing the violin concerto (soloist Oleh Krysa, good performance) and the transcripted piano concerto (soloist Mykola Suk, I am not so convince but OK) op 61a.

 

I have been looking around for the piano version of the violin concerto but so far this is the only one I have came across, which I got it from towerrecords.com USA. Some of the performer of the violin concerto today adopt a faster tempo for the first movement (like that of Heifetz) also because of the piano version. Basically the running notes and scales in the first movement cannot sounds nice with piano if played at a slower tempo, thus the theory that the first movement should be played fast. However amoung my collections most of the violin soloist adopted a grand and slower tempo.

 

Also in this collection the candeza used was written by Beethoven himself! It is rather interesting that actually Beethoven wrote the candazas for the piano, but he actually did not write any for the violin. The version of the violin used was transcribed by L Bulatow from the piano candazas. One of the unusual aspect of the candazas (in the 1st and 2nd movement) is the duet between the soloist and the timpani.

 

Also I would also like to highlite what the Beethoven violin concerto that drawn my attention when I first listened to it is the 5 timpani strokes at the begining of the 1st movement (I guess first in music history that any composer began a concerto with timpani and this timpani actually formed one of the theme in the first movement) and the very chicky ending of the last movement.

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Hi, Fuwen

 

You really must listen to David Oistrach (Did I spell it wrongly ?) on EMI. I more or less throw away every recording after listening to David's legendary playing ! biggrin.gif

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Hi! LaoMao, I like old timer soloist very much and so is David Oistrakh, one of my favourites. I do have a version of his Beethoven but is in mono recording under label CDO with Moscow State Sym Orch and Alexander Gauk as conductor. Will try to look for the EMI version.

 

BTW, before u throw away all your other recordings of Beethoven Violin concerto would u please give me an offer and I might take them all! laugh.gif

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Hi, Fuwen Don't lah! If you had heard the stereo Oistrakh on EMI you might not want to buy from me... biggrin.gif

 

Another wonderful recording by Oistrakh is his 60th Birthday live recording. Released by RCA. He did a so-so Romance in F on DG (Although this, recording used to be very famous among audiophiles). But His 60th birthday performance/recording is truly upto behold ! A must for all Oistrakh fans ! w00t.gif

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Hi! LaoMao, just to confirm with u that u are refering to op 61 EMI stereo recording by David Oistrakh? I have not seen this version before. I only came across the Beethoven triple concerto, also by EMI, with Oistrakh playing violin, Ritcher playing Piano, Rostropovich playing cello and Karajan conducting. With this type of artist combination u can hardly resist buying this recording.

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Fuwen on classical cds is similar to the green gobbler in "Ghostbusters"! He'll chew and digest anything, be it good or bad. So don't throw your classical cds without giving him a thought. biggrin.gif

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Hi! LaoMao, just to confirm with u that u are refering to op 61 EMI stereo recording by David Oistrakh? I have not seen this version before. I only came across the Beethoven triple concerto, also by EMI, with Oistrakh playing violin, Ritcher playing Piano, Rostropovich playing cello and Karajan conducting. With this type of artist combination u can hardly resist buying this recording.

HI, Fuwen biggrin.gif Here it goes ! It's EMI Catalog #CDM7 69261 2 Beethoven and Bruch Violin concertos. The Orchestra for Beethoven is : Orchestra National de la Radiodiffusion Francaise under the baton of Andre Cluytens Recorded in 1958 stereo. The sound quality is very very good. I seriously doubts one would need more than one Beethoven Op. 61 after hearing this one.... w00t.gif Forget about the Bruch in the same CD. Horrible sounding... The heifetz reading does not produce a A7 ascending chord (A,#C,E,G,A,#C,E,G--) but appeared to be based on the absolute pitch of C key... Not my cup of tea, Oistrakh had hit the chord right here. It's seriously the feel of A7 on that ascending scale.... Very very good reading and playing...

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Hi! LaoMao, just to confirm with u that u are refering to op 61 EMI stereo recording by David Oistrakh? I have not seen this version before. I only came across the Beethoven triple concerto, also by EMI, with Oistrakh playing violin, Ritcher playing Piano, Rostropovich playing cello and Karajan conducting. With this type of artist combination u can hardly resist buying this recording.

Haha You inspire me for something here... The tripple concerto, All three soloists agree with the viewpoint of Herbert... But I'd a very interesting Recording by Oistrakh and Richter, they played the Cesar Frank violin sonata, Aiyoh! You won't believe it ! ohmy.gif these two guys disagree with each other, and the violin and piano head in different direction (but the same tempo ! of course !!). Strange it's a very interesting playing ! still very "fire"-ry ! One of my top choice Frank violin sonata ! yes.gif

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