Home | Reviews | Articles | Festivals | Competitions | Other | Contact Us

Beethoven's Violin Concerto in Context

Concertos by Beethoven & Clement*

*World Premiere Recording of the 1805 Violin Concerto by Franz Clement (1780-1842), the violinist and composer for whom Beethoven wrote his Violin Concerto in 1806

Rachel Barton Pine, violin
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/José Serebrier

Cedille CDR 90000 106

[For release September 2008]

Have you ever wondered why Beethoven's violin concerto is so gentle?

Here is the answer, prefaced by a couple of anecdotes.

This CD is dedicated (uniquely?) to a Chicago music shop, where this notable musical explorer found many of the unusual scores which eventually found their way into her repertoire. (I am likewise indebted to London's Foyles second-hand music department, and the famous Westminster Music Library, for satisfying my insatiable musical curiosity in student days; some discoveries in those sources found their way eventually into LPs which I produced.)

At aged six, Rachel Barton Pine "instinctively sensed that the Beethoven was the pinnacle of violin concertos". I, whilst at boarding school, was struck by that concerto's gentleness, playing 78s of Kreisler's recording on a wind-up portable gramophone. We were delighted by its throw-away ending, only realising long afterwards that we had unwittingly finished our session with the last but one side...

Franz Clement was a prodigious violinist and composing talent and he and Beethoven shared mutual admiration. His playing was 'indescribably delicate, neat and elegant' with 'extremely delightful tenderness' - against the prevailing 'marked, bold strong, forceful' style of the time [Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung], all to be heard in Clement's newly rediscovered concerto of 1805, which 'provides a previously unsuspected context for Beethoven's masterpiece' composed the following year [Clive Brown].

Rachel Barton Pine produces sweet tone in both works from her Guarneri del Gesu, and her account of the Beethoven (well up with the competition) is unique for her own cadenzas; performances and recording balance are fine, and Clive Brown's notes, running to six pages, are indispensable. This twofer-for-the-price-of-one CD is strongly recommended, and makes a pair with her earlier coupling of the Brahms concerto with Joachim's [CDR 90000 068].

Peter Grahame Woolf

q.v. "Franz Clement's unaccompanied solo violin variations should be regular recitalists' fodder; they would not be unduly dwarfed alongside Bach's canonic favourites and Ysaye's, and his place in the scheme of things at the time should not be belittled."[Editor]

Peter Sheppard Skærved's BEETHOVEN EXPLORED series; Volume 4 includes Clement's virtuoso set of Variations on Gretry's "Barbe Bleu" [Métier Records MSVCD2006]