New York Classical Review: The Orpheus Chamber Orchestra wrapped up their 41st season on Saturday at Carnegie Hall. After more than four decades, their conductorless experiment is as vibrant as ever, as they showed in an all-Hungarian program. On Saturday, they might have been better off without a soloist, as well.From the
The second half of their program was a rarity, Joseph Joachim’s Violin Concerto No. 2, “In the Hungarian Style.” Aside from being the dedicatee of Brahms’ Violin Concerto, Joachim is mostly remembered for rescuing the Beethoven Violin Concerto from oblivion and restoring it to its rightful place in the musical pantheon. Tetzlaff performed no such feat with Joachim’s Second.
The concerto is closer in spirit to the concerti of Joachim’s fellow violinist-composers Wieniawski and Paganini than it is to those of Beethoven and Brahms. Lacking in musical depth, it relies on its extreme degree of difficulty to dazzle audiences—When the technical component is a mess, there’s not much left to enjoy.
Tetzlaff has had a few rough-and-tumble performances in New York in the last few years, and Saturday unfortunately did not mark a return to form. After landing flat on the second note of his entrance, the German violinist showed intensity of tone and musical sensitivity in his opening phrases. From there, everything was downhill.
His burnished tone evaporated and gave way to a scratchy, pressed sound. It was impossible to concentrate on what he was doing musically, because his myriad technical problems were extremely distracting—Extraneous noises and shoddy intonation were constants, and a number of passages were faked outright. Orpheus had an awful time following him, not so much because he was being metrically adventurous, but because it was difficult to tell where he was.
The second movement Romanze was likewise out of tune despite its slower tempo. Tetzlaff’s swooping phrasing smothered the lyricism in seasick ups and downs. The finale, “alla Zingara,” begins with a perpetual motion feel, and in Tetzlaff’s rendition it sounded perpetually on the brink of disaster. He seemed to be laboring just to get to the end, much less make musical sense of the piece. The leisurely dance sections that break up the scramble, written with puckish charm, were choked by Tetzlaff’s crunching sound.
Tetzlaff’s encore, Brahms’s Hungarian Dance No. 19—with orchestral accompaniment—provided no relief—pecky, out of tune, and out of sync.
This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.
Violinist.com is made possible by...
Discover the best of Violinist.com in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews.