Conductor Erich Roehn = Works of BRUCH, BEETHOVEN, VIVALDI & SCHUBERT – MeloClassic

Erich Roehn, violin = BRUCH: Violin Concerto No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 26; BEETHOVEN: Romance No. 2 in F Major, Op. 50; Rondo in G Major for Violin and Piano, WoO 41; VIVALDI: Concerto in F Major for 3 Violins, RV 551; SCHUBERT: Rondo in A Major for Violin and Strings, D. 438 – Erich Roehn, violin/ Grosses Berliner Rundfunkorchester/ Hans Steinkopf/ Rudolf Schulz, violin/ Georg Kniestaedt, violin/ Ch. music group from Berlin Philharmonic/ Michael Raucheisen, p. – MeloClassic MC 2017, 58:18 [www.meloclassic.com] ****:

Erich Röhn (1910-1985) served as concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmonic, succeeding Siegfried Borries in 1941 upon Borries’ departure for the Prussian State Orchestra and Herbert von Karajan. DGG issued a 1944 performance of the Beethoven Concerto with Roehn and Wilhelm Furtwaengler, a fine alternative to the later 1953 concert performance with Wolfgang Schneiderhahn. The major work Meloclassic reissues, the Bruch Concerto in G Minor (9 April 1942) suffers a thin acoustic, and the orchestral tissue under Steinkopf remains distant. Roehn plays with intense ardor, a fast vibrato, and a thin, nasal tone that reminds me of Szigeti. The second movement enjoys its lyrical moments, but the tape suffers from obvious deterioration. The last movement Allegro energico projects flair and athleticism, the style typical of the German school of playing, especially if we have been accustomed to hearing Schneiderhahn, Kulenkampff, and Taschner.

The Beethoven Romance No. 2 (13 April 1942) also with Steinkopf seems to have placed Roehn even further into the microphone than in the Bruch collaboration. The ensemble remains muddy and not always synchronized. Still, the performance retains style and sympathy, and the woodwinds make their warm mark in the ensemble. The playing achieves a truly soaring line in the middle section, prior to the ritornello theme and scalar passages echoed in solo and orchestra.

The Vivaldi Concerto in F for 3 Violins has Michael Raucheisen’s keyboard for a concertino; and Roehn and compatriots (10 November 1942) Schulz and Kniestadt relish their ripieno ensemble, despite the occasional flubbed entry or fuzzy harmonization. Roehn had formed a distinct chamber ensemble among members of the Berlin Philharmonic, and with this select group Roehn performs (29 June 1943) Schubert’s relatively infrequent Rondo for Violin and Strings in A Major. Again, curiously, this constitutes a piece that Szigeti would program – in our own day Tetzlaff and Kremer – with good effect. The technical control Roehn exerts with his honed players provides the most effective musical impression from this assemblage. The extended, sometimes explosive, singing line and transitions into Schubert’s lyrico-dramatic alternations occur with seamless enthusiasm, in the manner of a bucolic laendler. 

Finally, from 1944, Roehn and Raucheisen pair directly for Beethoven’s early Rondo in G Major, a real, Viennese coffee-house piece played with verve and ingratiating charm.

—Gary Lemco

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