Tetzlaff Siblings bring Fiery Delights to Brahms’ Double Concerto

13/05/2017

Widmann, Brahms, Beethoven: Christian Tetzlaff (violin), Tanja Tetzlaff (cello), Scottish Chamber Orchestra / Robin Ticciati (conductor), Usher Hall, Edinburgh, 11.5.2017. (SRT)

Widmann – Con brio (2013 version)

Brahms – Double Concerto in A Minor Op.102

Beethoven – Symphony No. 7 Op.92

This was the last concert of the SCO’s main season before a tour and a busy summer of festivals, including Edinburgh, East Neuk and the Proms. It’s also the first time since January since we’ve seen Principal Conductor Robin Ticciati on the podium. As appointments and engagements stack up across Europe, Ticciati is getting busier and busier, and he has less than a year to run with the orchestra now before he stands down. The ovation at the end of the concert was very warm, and I suspect the performers were lapping it up that little bit more in the knowledge that they only have a few more of these to go as a team.

It was Ticciati’s Beethoven Seven the provoked the roar of the crowd, but I found it hard to get quite so excited about it. It was rousing, with fast tempi throughout, and the occasional lapses of string ensemble were forgivable in the heat of the moment, as was the lack of weight in the bass and the slightly top-heavy sound. For me, however, it lacked the exhilaration it needed, mostly because I felt like I knew where the road map was heading. Ticciati’s Beethoven is a fairly well known quantity for Scottish audiences by now, and I enjoyed what I heard; but I also got what I was expecting and the lack of a revelation makes things that little bit more predictable and less exciting.

Conversely, I didn’t know what to expect from the Tetzlaff siblings playing Brahms, and I found the results thrilling. I’ve expressed reservations about Ticciati’s Brahms before, particularly during their Brahms cycle of 2015-16, but here I had no complaints. This was a reading of maturity and architectural cogency, helped, I suspect, by having such a classy pair of soloists as collaborators. The orchestra was of a chamber scale, of course, which meant that the textures and proportions of the sound felt just right, but they played with vibrato and modern technique, giving us the best of both worlds; a carefully scaled performance played with full-blooded Romantic fire. The Tetzlaffs, I suspect, set the agenda for this, with their playing of fiery energy and hot Romanticism. The turbulence of Tanja’s cello playing, in particular, surged with passion, and I liked the way Christian frequently brought his bow down on the strings with a hard edge, adding an extra ounce of drama to the sound. After the craggy first movement, the Andante seemed to flow like molten silver, and the finale had a spark of humour, even of the dance about it. It was brilliant, as was their encore, the finale of Kodaly’s Duo.

Jörg Widmann’s Con brio has grown on me since I first heard it last October. We’re told that this is the Scottish premiere of the 2013 version, but I don’t know the work well enough to have picked up the major differences. What I do know is that, this time around, the opening felt like a more direct engagement with the nineteenth-century world he is trying to critique, and the work as a whole struck me as a lot funnier!  That’s partly because, knowing to expect them, the extra-instrumental effects (tongue-clickings and whooshing noises, for example) sounded less bizarre. I could also relax into the many fun techniques he uses to make instruments sound very unlike themselves, such as brass players slapping their mouthpieces, clarinets flickering their keys, or the timpanist doing seemingly anything except striking the skin of his drum! If ever again I hear such a range of percussion sounds coming from one man within ten minutes, then I’ll be both surprised and impressed.

Simon Thompson

Print Friendly

Comments

Leave a Reply

Recent Reviews

Facebook-button-1

Season Previews

__________________________________
  • NEW! Spitalfields Music Festival 2017 in December __________________________________
  • NEW! Bampton Classical Opera in 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! The 2018 Lucerne Summer Festival __________________________________
  • NEW! World Premiere of The Nutcracker and I, by Alexandra Dariescu in December at Milton Court __________________________________
  • NEW! Hampstead Garden Opera Bring The Enchanted Pig to Highgate in November __________________________________
  • NEW! Leeds Lieder’s Forthcoming Schubert Song Series in Leeds and Sheffield __________________________________
  • NEW! Svetlana Zakharova and Bolshoi Stars Bring Amore to the London Coliseum in November __________________________________
  • NEW! Tom Green and Carol Ann Duffy’s The World’s Wife Premieres on 15 October in Cardiff __________________________________
  • UPDATED! English National Ballet’s 2017 – 2018 Autumn/Winter Season __________________________________
  • NEW! Contemporary Music from Manchester’s Psappha in 2017-18 __________________________________
  • NEW! I Musicanti’s ‘Alexandra and the Russians’ at St Johns Smith Square, 2017-18 __________________________________
  • NEW! Anna Netrebko and Yusif Eyvazov’s Return to London in May 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! St John’s Smith Square announces its 2017/18 Season __________________________________
  • NEW! The Pierre Boulez Saal’s 2017/18 Season in Berlin __________________________________
  • NEW! Birmingham and Beyond: Ex Cathedra in 2017/18 __________________________________
  • NEW! The Glyndebourne Opera Cup and Glyndebourne in 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra’s 2017/18 Season __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Review Summary Newsletter

    Reviews by Reviewer

    News and Featured Articles

    __________________________________
  • NEW! Carly Paoli is ‘Singing My Dreams’ at the Cadogan Hall in February 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! A Composer Speaks Up for the Environment: An Interview with Margaret Brouwer __________________________________
  • NEW! Twelve Years of Celebrating Malcolm Arnold in Northampton __________________________________
  • NEW! What is the Critic’s Job? A Review of A. O. Scott’s Recent Book __________________________________
  • NEW! English Music Festival in Yorkshire Lifts the Lid Off an English Treasury __________________________________
  • NEW! A FULLY STAGED PILGRIM’S PROGRESS IN ORLEANS, MA __________________________________
  • NEW! JIŘÍ BĔLOHLÁVEK (1946-2017) AND THE CZECH CONDUCTING LEGACY __________________________________
  • NEW! JUSTIN DOYLE DISCUSSES MONTEVERDI WITH MARK BERRY __________________________________
  • NEW! Katie Lowe Wins the 2017 Elizabeth Connell Prize __________________________________
  • NEW! ITINÉRAIRE BAROQUE 2017: TON KOOPMAN TALKS TO COLIN CLARKE __________________________________
  • NEW! The Royal Opera House in Mumbai is Restored to its Former Glory __________________________________
  • NEW! iSING! – International Young Artists Festival in Suzhou, China __________________________________
  • NEW! A Riveting Kokoschka’s Doll from Sir John Tomlinson and Counterpoise __________________________________
  • NEW! ANGELA BROWNRIDGE IN CONVERSATION WITH ROBERT BEATTIE __________________________________
  • Archives by Week

    Archives by Month

    Search S&H