Notes and Editorial Reviews
"Patricia Kopatchinskaja’s warmly recorded account of the Beethoven Violin Concerto must rank as one of the most stimulating and provocative that has ever been committed to disc." -- BBC Music Magazine
Violin Concerto. Romances: No. 2 in F; No. 1 in G. Concerto in C,
woO 5 (fragment)
Patricia Kopatchinskaja (vn); Philippe Herreweghe, cond; Orchestre des Champs-Élysées (period instruments)
NAÏVE 5194 (62:05)
Patricia Kopatchinskaja’s account of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto adds five features that violinists haven’t generally embraced. First, according to Robin Stowell’s note, she follows the tempo markings that Carl Czerny provided for Beethoven’s arrangement of the work for piano and orchestra (MM = 126 in the first movement, MM = 60 in the second, and MM = 100 in the third); second, she adapted Beethoven’s cadenza for the piano version in a way that, third, necessitated some “overdubbing.” Fourth, she tries to bring her version in line with what she’s learned about Franz Clement’s lighter performing style (Rachel Barton Pine paired a reading of Clement’s work with her recording of Beethoven’s Concerto, 32: 2, Çedille 106). And Fifth, she incorporates elements from Beethoven’s manuscript. The results of her research and of Herreweghe’s sympathetic collaboration appear right away with the four timpani strokes (played here with what sounds like a slight crescendo) setting the more rapid tempo. The orchestra seemed reverberant, with chords decaying slowly, in the Arsenal of Metz where Kopatchinskaja recorded the work (described at the back of the booklet as “live and studio””) in October 2008. Herreweghe leads the Orchestra in a stormy account of the first movement’s tuttis, and Kopatchinskaja offers a similar robustness that hardly sounds like the elegant grace and “neatness” that have been ascribed to Clement. Her inclusion of “variants” lends the performance more interest, however, and those in the hushed middle section—and elsewhere, in fact—should afford listeners not tied to the printed version with a number of not unpleasant shocks. The cadenza, with what sounds like two violins trading figurations in a surreal setting, may not give even alloyed pleasure, especially to those averse to “gimmicks.” The second movement seems to promise relief, but Kopatchinskaja enters with an eldritch timbre reminiscent of experiments by Anne-Sophie Mutter; and throughout the movement, she combines such novelties with turns of phrase that turn tradition upside down. The eerie transitional cadenza to the last movement introduces a cheeky performance with occasional elements, like the cadenzas and a section that fleetingly imitates bagpipes, that will sound either fresh or impudent—and maybe both—depending on the listener’s point of view.
The Romance in F, even taken at a brisk tempo, may not seem unfamiliar, but the pace certainly lends it a sense of crisp newness such as a fresh coat of paint gives to a picket fence. The Romance in G receives from Kopatchinskaja and Herreweghe a similar freshening, replete with archly pointed accents and timbral nuances.
The final work on the program, Beethoven’s fragment from a Violin Concerto in C Major, appears in its fragmentary form rather than in Hellmesberger’s completed arrangement. The notes relate that Kopatchinskaja examined the manuscript, which appeared to be an incomplete fair copy made in Bonn but broken off abruptly after 20 pages. It may have been an appealing work in its complete form, but it gives little hint of the profundities of his later works. It breaks off abruptly at its close.
The engineers have captured Kopatchinskaja close up (close enough to convey a hint of heavy breathing in the Concerto in C Major fragment). Listeners accepting of exploratory ventures like this one should find in it much to pique their curiosity, while others may be offended by one, or several—or all, for that matter—of the performances’ seemingly willful
. Strongly recommended for the insight it might provide to those willing to set sail in largely uncharted waters.
FANFARE: Robert Maxham
Works on This Recording
Concerto for Violin in D major, Op. 61 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Patricia Kopatchinskaya (Violin)
Written: 1806; Vienna, Austria
Concerto movement for Violin in C major, WoO 5 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Patricia Kopatchinskaya (Violin)
Written: 1786; Bonn, Germany
Featured Sound Samples
Violin Concerto: I. Allegro non troppo
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