The Strad Issue: January 2011
Description: Expressiveness and clarity come together in some impressive chamber-music playing
Musicians: Christian Tetzlaff*† , Antje Weithaas* (violin) Tatjana Masurenko* (viola) Gustav Rivinius*, Tanja Tetzlaff†  (cello) Lars Vogt†  (piano)
Composer: Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich
Catalogue Number: AVI-Music 8553224

Christian Tetzlaff, alongside Thomas Zehetmair, stands at the vanguard of the post-Gidon Kremer generation of players who call upon a bracingly enhanced dynamic and expressive range. Even in Tchaikovsky’s emotionally superheated sound world, Tetzlaff daringly reduces his vibrato to levels of senza purity. The extraordinary result, as here, is a tantalising combination of interpretative intensity and timbral clarity that demonstrates it is possible to combine espressivo warmth with neo-Classical precision. Textures, as in the first movement’s development section, that can easily become cluttered and opaque are precision-balanced to reveal an almost Mozartian grace and transparency.

The semantic obfuscations and post-Mahlerian irony of Shostakovich’s expressive universe are also brought chillingly to life. As in the Tchaikovsky, Tetzlaff and colleagues’ musical maxim would appear to be that ‘less is more’. They relish Shostakovich’s anachronistic stylistic cross-references, pointing up with stinging perceptiveness that the further he moves towards generic normality the more waspish he actually becomes. They dispatch the dancing gestures of the scherzo with a grinding remorselessness (complete with excited pedal-stamping from Lars Vogt) that is deeply unsettling. These outstandingly engineered German radio recordings were captured live one June evening in 2010 and fairly tingle with a sense of heightened fervency.