Shostakovich’s First Violin Concerto is, more or less, in the mainstream but, I have to confess, I’d actually forgotten that he actually wrote a second! Tetzlaff is up with the best in virtually anything he does and his performance and interpretation is very fine. My favourite movement is always the introductory Nocturne, with its sinuous (and in this case sinewy theme). The two even numbered movements provide colour and movement with all the deliberately sinister overtones of forced hilarity and rejoicing they always convey in Shostakovich’s scores. Tetzlaff is alive to every nuance here. In the great Passacaglia, the work’s center of gravity, he is genuinely moving with rock steady tone and dignified phrasing. Of course David Oistrakh, for whom both works were written, casts an eternally long shadow. Nonetheless, Tetzlaff is eminently recommendable.
The Second Concerto was composed in 1966 and is a very different kettle of fish. More sparsely orchestrated, it consists of mainly slow music until the last minutes. The first movement has the sphinx-like inscrutability common to many Shostakovich late scores and the second tends to meander. Tetzlaff is impressive here, but it’s not surprising the work features rarely in concert. Ondine’s sound, Storgårds’ conducting and the Helsinki Philharmonic are all excellent, but I wouldn’t recommend listening to them in one sitting.