The Strad Issue: March 2016
Description: Weithaas leads from the front in the Brahms Concerto
Musicians: Antje Weithaas (violin/director) Camerata Bern
Composer: Brahms
Catalogue Number: AVI-MUSIC 8553328

To direct the Brahms Concerto from the violin is challenging enough; to know that the concert is going out on a CD must be daunting indeed. But Antje Weithaas and Camerata Bern have worked together for a long time, and they approached this as a collaborative project, with a chamber music ethos compounded by a smaller than usual string section ( The strings provide plenty of heft when the heat is on, though they sometimes sound thin elsewhere. At the forefront, Weithaas plays with vigour and power, as well as a willingness to stop and smell the flowers along the way (there are places in the first movement where she all but drifts into reverie). Her playing is lush and sweet-toned.

For the op.111 String Quintet, in a studio recording, the ensemble is resized in the opposite direction, giving a string-orchestra performance (with a double bass). This works rather well in the outer movements, with symphonic weight and sweep in the energetic opening and a rollicking finale, played with virtuosic passion. The fortissimo outburst towards the end of the Adagio is thrilling, but the light, faux-naïf third movement is perhaps inevitably a tad heavy. The recordings of both works are rich and warm.

Tim Homfray