Recorded 30-31 May 2005 at Tonhalle Zurich, Switzerland, this performance of the oft-trod Beethoven Violin Concerto enjoys the same attentions to Beethoven’s original (relatively quick) metronome markings and dynamics as conductor Zinman brought to his readings of the work with Sergiu Luca in the early 1990s. Violinist Tetzlaff takes particular care in the two cantabile sections in the first movement to preserve the harmonic integrity of the passagework. The execution by the Tonhalle tympanist is quite exemplary and dominates the fortissimos. Colossal and fiery, the Tetzlaff-Zinman collaboration provides the kinds of fireworks I associate with my preferred reading by Schneiderhahn and Furtwaengler from 1953. Tetzlaff adopts the piano-concerto version of the concerto’s cadenza, with drum accompaniment and quick tempos, in order to accentuate the militant aspects of the otherwise lyrical character of the movement. Smooth is the segue back to the transitional materials prior to the wonderful coda. If the first movement generates rhythmic excitement, the G Major Larghetto is all spun mystery, a tender theme and variations of delicate poignancy. The transparency of texture and the gentle phrasing more than recall for me the approach of Joseph Szigeti. The Rondo is all good nature and spirited frolic, the tympani again making its virile presence known. Tetzlaff plays with the material, inserting ad libitum cadenzas here and there to raise the ensemble temperature. Under his filigree, the Tonhalle strings and bassoon conspire to weave a rustic magic all their own. Old wine in a sparkling, heart-pounding, new bottle.
From the opening double stops of the solo violin that open the G Major Romance (1803) to the concluding bars of the F Major Romance (1805), the musical balance between Tetzalff and Zinman’s finely honed Tonhalle Orchestra is a delight to behold, the orchestral entries crisp, even potent. The orchestral interplay is the soul of clarity, a veritable pair of outdoor serenades, the rhythms moving unsentimentally to a preconceived end. It is always musically rewarding to savor a virtuoso’s intelligent reworking of a masterpiece, especially one which resists ossification so adeptly as does the Beethoven Violin Concerto.
— Gary Lemco