CD review: Tetzlaff’s Dvorak & Suk

First published in the Guardian on 10 March, 2016

Dvorak/Suk: Violin Concerto/Fantasy etc
Tetzlaff/Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra/Storgards (Ondine)

I’ve always loved the playing of German violinist Christian Tetzlaff for its chiselled, slightly austere beauty — playing that’s totally unsentimental, no concern for dazzle — so the romantic grandeur with which he opens Suk’s Fantasy in G Minor came as a bit of a shock. So much vibrato! From Tetzlaff! But then, he’s the kind of musician who gets under the skin of a piece and gives what the music needs rather than applying his own house style no-matter-what. His performance of Dvorak’s Concerto in A minor is glorious and questioning: full-throttle in the chunky octaves and a heavy bounce to the finale, but the real brilliance is in the vulnerability and tenderness he reveals in quiet melodies. Conductor John Storgards and the Helsinki Phil have a way of communicating breadth and darkness through a sound that is clear and stripped back. Listen to the luminous strings that open Dvorak’s Romance in F minor — the final work on the disc — to see what I mean.