Old meets new as a concerto classic is given new cadenzas

Veronika Eberle: Beethoven

The Strad Issue: June 2023

Description: Old meets new as a concerto classic is given new cadenzas

Musicians: Veronika Eberle (violin) London Symphony Orchestra/Simon Rattle

Works: Beethoven: Violin Concerto in D major op.61; Violin Concerto movement in C major WoO5

Catalogue number: LSO LIVE LSO5094

Veronika Eberle first performed Beethoven’s Violin Concerto with Simon Rattle as a teenager back in 2006. This release shows her as a mature artist familiar with the work’s every phrase and alert to its every pitfall. Although other performances may have more edge and attitude, there’s nothing middle-of-the-road about the impact here, rooted in an unswervingly attractive tone (nicely captured in this live recording) – sweet and clear up top and, as at the opening of the finale, rich rather than over-woody at the lower end. In the slow movement Eberle combines old-school beauty of sound with a modern disdain for self-indulgence.

Rattle likewise directs, characteristically, with an eye to period performance, so the tuttis are lean (though not lacking in weight), and there’s a wide range of subtle colouristic shifts, especially into the darker regions. The slow movement features some deliciously hushed pizzicato accompanying (to Eberle’s similarly daringly light playing) while, in the finale, there is a chamber music-like suppleness.

Another draw to this recording is Jörg Widmann’s new cadenzas – neatly incorporating Beethoven’s thematic material into a contemporary canvas. The first-movement cadenza is especially striking, with its dramatic role for timpani and the introduction of a double bass.

The disc is rounded out with Beethoven’s fragmentary unfinished concerto, dating from his early years in Vienna, and displaying a distinctive earlier-Classical style.