Beethoven: Violin Concerto

Anton Steck violin, L’arpa festante, Matthew Halls
Accent ACC 24320
+ Pössinger: Violin Concerto in G, op. 9

While there will be a great deal of interest shown in this recording purely by virtue of its claim to be a world premiere recording after the original autograph score, and the fact that the “filler” (who I detest this disparaging description!) was written by a violinist with a very close personal link to Beethoven, for me the disc is a tremendous success simply because it offers beautifully recorded, accomplished performances. Anton Steck is a first-class violinist and his accounts of these two very different works are honest and engaging. Yes, of course, there are moments when the subconscious inner ear is surprised by the unexpected, but these are rarely disturbing; even the early published editions of the concerto offer variant readings – Beethoven’s score offers violinists up to four different versions of some bars! L’arpa festante (76543 strings) support Steck with some ravishing playing, and enjoy the tunefulness of Pössinger’s relatively light work (with a far smaller orchestra and lasting just under 18 minutes, compared to Beethoven’s 44!) There is some evidence that Pössinger was the violinist to whom Beethoven turned for technical advice, so the pairing of the two works is appropriate. An especial delight of the recording are Steck’s cadenzas for the Beethoven! Perhaps this line-up could be persuaded to follow up the booklet’s title: “Viewed in a completely different light” – let’s have another couple of contemporary concertos and Beethoven’s Romances?

Brian Clark