Beethoven’s only violin concerto is certainly one of the most lovely works ever written for this instrument. The symphonically conceived work is admired for its highly lyrical and expressive character and as such belongs in the repertory of all great violinists. Numerous performances, often all too sentimental or exaggerated, are available on record – but this Deutsche Grammophon production from 1962 is a refreshing exception. With a tender, serene timbre and perfect intonation, the soloist Wolfgang Schneiderhan allows the spirit of the score to breathe throughout. The captivating and poetic music is further enhanced by the Berlin Philharmonic who play with a sonority that has yet to be equalled. The strings with the swell and subsidence of their carpets of sound, the subtle and finely balanced woodwinds, the double basses which murmur darkly at the very bottom of their register – all effuse a feeling of consecration and peaceful transfiguration in this concerto, a concerto which has never seen its like in two centuries.
The balance engineers achieved a remarkable feat when documenting this epoch-making work, for this recording is certainly one of the very best to come from Deutsche Grammophon in the Sixties.