In 2015 the Berliner Philharmoniker dedicated an evening of their renowned Easter Festival in Baden-Baden to one of the most famous and beloved of German composers, Ludwig van Beethoven. Together with Bernard Haitink, a universally acclaimed authority on the works of that composer, they performed Beethoven’s exquisite expression of nature, his Symphony No. 6, the “Pastoral”. They were joined for Beethoven’s Violin Concerto by Isabelle Faust, whose interpretation of the work has enjoyed widespread acclaim.
HISTORICAL RECORDINGS · MONO · RECORDED IN *1930 & 1934 NEW REMASTERING FROM ORIGINAL MASTERS IN 24-BIT / 96KHZ BY STUDIO ART ET SON, PARIS. “You simply have to hear Huberman’s recording,” wrote Gramophone of this incandescent 1934 interpretation of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto. At the age of 14 Huberman, born in Poland in 1882, had dazzled Brahms with his playing. The prodigy went on to become both a towering violinist and a committed humanitarian activist, rescuing musicians from Nazi Germany to form the future Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. Completing this newly remastered Beethoven disc, Huberman is partnered in the Kreutzer Sonata by another legendary Polish-born musician, Ignaz Friedman.
Mutter's Beethoven Concerto was recorded live at the final subscription concerts of Karl Masur's long tenure as the New York Philharmonic's music director, and the beautifully played orchestral part is a tribute to his leadership. Mutter plays with a silken tone and astonishing technical command of her instrument–absolute ease in the stratospheric tessitura of the solo part, and an amazing array of microdynamic adjustments that display the infinite variety of pianissimos at her command.
Judging simply by timings, Mintz and Sinopoli seem to have decided on a middle path in their approach to the first movement of this concerto: they take nearly a minute less over it than Mutter and Karajan (also on DG), about a minute and a half more than Perlman and Giulini on EMI. Using ears rather than a stopwatch, however, they seem to be giving by far the slowest performance of the movement that I have heard in years. It is a reading from which anything which might savour of soloistic display has been expunged, in which no note, even one of a flourish of semiquavers, is allowed to be 'merely' decorative. Mutter is fond of polishing every note like a jewel, too, but the very opening of the concerto in hers and Karajan's reading sounds positively sprightly set beside the newcomer. The moment Mutter enters the speed slackens markedly, but Karajan watchfully assures that the pulse returns with each tutti, and a sense of momentum is present throughout, even during the soloist's most wayward rhapsodizings.