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Beethoven: Violin Concerto / Kremer, Marriner, ASMF

Release Date: 04/22/2010 
Label:  Philips   Catalog #: 410549   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Gidon Kremer
Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

A bold and controversial performance by Gidon Kremer, using a cadenza by modernist composer Alfred Schnittke. Kremer is not afraid to "century-hop," suggesting the influence of time-traveling musicians with a knowledge of Shostakovich as well as Beethoven.

Alfred Schnittke's cadenza to the Beethoven violin concerto, commissioned (and played here) by Gidon Kremer...[is] all over the stylistic map, and, in addition to its own idiosyncratic harmonic oddities, it contains allusions to the Brahms violin concerto, Shostakovich's first violin concerto, and the Berg violin concerto. I have no idea what Schnittke thought he was doing...

-- Erik Tarloff, The Atlantic [2/9/2010]
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Kremer...is not afraid to ‘century-hop’...interjecting what he calls ‘polystylistic cadenzas which suggest the influence of time-travelling jazz musicians with a knowledge of Shostakovich and Berg’...and points to his association with Schnittke, whose wacky cadenza to the Beethoven Violin Concerto Kremer recorded some years ago...

-- Tony Haywood, MusicWeb International


The ASMF play this concerto beautifully. Using rather fewer strings than is usual either in the concert hall or when recorded, in this particular piece has the effect of bringing the woodwind forward (in sound, of course, though likely so in actual orchestral seating as well), without similarly promoting horns, trumpets, or timpani; and this balance, coupled with less resonance than the larger halls necessarily give, throws a new, agreeable light on Beethoven's textures. Gidon Kremer is, again, well balanced with the orchestra; and even if he tended to upset the rhythm of the first movement here and there by a rather Romantic freedom of pulse this shortcoming was not present in the second or third movements, and the whole was, or could have been, set fair to have been a most recommendable version of the concerto, exceptionally well recorded.

But alas! The operative phrase turns out to be 'could have been'. The version is not recommendable as a whole because of the cadenzas. Again, not just that there are arguably too many of them, Kremer inserting five worthwhile ones where Beethoven probably expected two-and-ahalf; this might or might not strike a listener as desirable, but hardly amounts to a major crime against the composer. This particular crime is, however, the speciality of the two main cadenzas (in the expected places). These two have been composed by Alfred Schnittke, an avant-garde composer whose occupation I can easily believe suits him well. I wish he would return to that occupation if it means he will keep his hands off Beethoven. It is true that Beethoven himself thought up (in the version of the concerto he wrote for a piano soloist) the idea of introducing timpani into the first movement cadenza; but he could not reasonably have foreseen the danger in our own century of such an idea being taken up in earnest, and developed along with other points of violin technique and musical idiom, in a twentieth-century style to the point where the abrupt transitions of century—and, it may be said, on this occasion, of quality of composition—totally disfigure an otherwise sound performance.

-- Gramophone [6/1982]
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Works on This Recording

Concerto for Violin in D major, Op. 61 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Gidon Kremer (Violin)
Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields
Period: Classical 
Written: 1806; Vienna, Austria 
Notes: Cadenza: Alfred Schnittke 

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