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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Berg / Janacek and Hartmann, 7 Jan 2011
By 
Nobody "Alan Boyes" (Newcastle, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Berg, Janacek & Hartmann : Violin Concertos - Apex (Audio CD)
The first point to note here is that this is a budget priced disc. That being so you can allow for, perhaps one sub standard performance if the rest measures up. That is indeed what you get here.

The Berg concerto has been well served by many other performers and whilst Thomas Zehtmaier's performance is perfectly acceptable it is far from being the first choice. The two other works, however, make this a very attractive package.

The Janancek though lasting less than 15 minutes packs a lot in and represents the finest mature late Janacek style. It is tantilising to think what might have been had he completed this concerto. Much of the material originated in the overture to his opera "From the House of the Dead". The music is light, sinewy, passionate and athletic. This is an essential recording to any fans of Janacek's music.

The same is true of Hartmann's Concerto Funebre - essentially another violin concerto with string orchestra. Though much is made of Hartmann's anti-nazi stance in this work and his symphonies it isn't absolutely essential to know (though it helps) this background because this concerto works very well as an absolute piece with strong neo baroque influences as well as mature Bartok, Hindemith and even Berg. Hartmann's music is still under appreciated even if this is possibly his most popular score. The Concerto Funebre is a finely crafted and poetic score. The Hartmann performance by Zehetmaier and orchestra is one of great intensity and is the highlight of the disc.

So if you're only, interested in the Berg Concerto look elsewhere. If you want the Janacek or Hartmann then snap this up without delay.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars haunting, 7 Aug 2013
By 
Stanley Crowe (Greenville, SC) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Berg, Janacek & Hartmann : Violin Concertos - Apex (Audio CD)
I defer to the opinion of the earlier reviewers who seems to know much more about modern music than I do and thus is in place to make comparisons between different performances of this material. I can report only my impression of whether these works engaged me or not, and I have to say that I found them powerful. The Hartmann seemed in some ways the most old-fashioned, with a kind of danse macabre in its third movement and a threnodic brief final movement, both of them calling to mind 19th Century ways of expressing responses to death and change. But the first two movements seem to have more in common with Berg. Melody seems fragmented, even pitch seems uncertain at times, and the violin seems to be grasping for something to hold on to. If the liner notes are right, Hartmann was lamenting the death of a culture at the hands of fascism, and that would accord with what might be called the "public" quality of the last two movements. As a whole, though, it's a gripping and accessible work.

A listener who doesn't know the difference between a twelve-note row and a diminished seventh should probably be wise to say nothing of the Berg concerto, but I want to testify to its accessibility and expressive power even for the non-expert listener. It is much more expressively concentrated than the Hartmann piece, with the violin always seeming to be engaged with dark, low colors in the orchestra, sometimes merging with them, sometimes soaring free. I take the piece to be about memory, as its subtitle suggests -- the way that in the mind the radiance of the dead young girl (in real life the 18-year-old daughter of Alma Mahler and Walter Gropius) will at times overwhelm the fact of her loss. It's a moving and powerful piece, played unshowily but beautifully by Zehetmair. The disc also contains a realization of a fragment of a Janacek violin concerto. again played well by Zehetmair. Heinz Holliger conducts in the Berg and Janacek, and Zehetmair himself in the Hartmann. Unobtrusively good sound.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First rate Berg and two good rarities, 7 Oct 2011
By 
enthusiast "enthusiast" (sussex, uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Berg, Janacek & Hartmann : Violin Concertos - Apex (Audio CD)
This is an excellent CD or three valuable 20th century violin concertos played by one of our greatest violinists.

The main piece is the great Berg Violin Concerto. Here I disagree with Alan Boyes' review for I think Zehetmair's account is an excellent one. True, the approach is more classically restrained than that adopted by most violinists, who choose to stress the late Romanticism of the piece, but there are great gains from this approach - mostly concerned with clarity of line and structure - and Zehetmair's approach should not be downplayed or undervalued. The result is moving and beautiful and totally convinces as the "memory of an angel". The performance is not a weak or merely limpid one, though: this Berg wears its modernism with pride!

For the other two pieces, I am 100% with Mr Boyes - they are notably (exceptionally!) fine rarities and very well worth having. The Hartmann is a fine piece of mid-century writing and is filled with attractive and notably memorable material. The Janacek is a recreation of an unfinished work (mere fragments, apparently). You can hear that we missed out on something special but enough was rescued to make the reconstructed piece more than worthwhile.

Zehetmair has always had the character and the confidence to let music speak for him and somehow he shines all the more as he makes his performances about the music rather than about himself. He is joined in these three pieces by Heinz Holliger, more famous as an oboe virtuoso and avant garde composer than as a conductor, but nevertheless a conductor with some track record - notably in Berg, Strauss and Schoenberg. This is an excellent record and a bargain.
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Berg, Janacek & Hartmann : Violin Concertos  -  Apex
Berg, Janacek & Hartmann : Violin Concertos - Apex by Thomas Zehetmair (Audio CD - 2001)
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