October 2008

Clement - Violin Concerto in D major; Beethoven - Violin Concerto in D major
Rachel Barton Pine, violin; Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Josť Serebrier cond.
Cedille CDR 9000 106
Format: CD
Released: 2008

by Richard Freed

Musical Performance ****
Recording Quality ****
Overall Enjoyment ****

Both Rachel Barton Pine and Josť Serebrier have rescued a number of forgotten or neglected works, and now they have teamed up to bring us a discovery as valuable as it was unexpected. Franz Clement, ten years younger than Beethoven, knew him from age 14. As leader of the orchestra of the Theater an der Wien, he took part in several important Beethoven premieres, and Beethoven composed his towering Violin Concerto for him. While Clement may have modeled his concerto on Beethoven’s piano concertos, Beethoven in turn found much in Clement’s concerto, given its premiere in the same concert as the Eroica, to stimulate the composition of his own Violin Concerto.

Clive Brown, the British musicologist whose recent edition of the Clement Concerto was used in this premiere recording, remarks on various similarities in the two works and adds that "Clement’s role in crafting the final version of Beethoven’s Concerto may have been greater than supposed." In any event, the Clement Concerto, unheard for some 200 years, turns out to be too substantial to be dismissed as a mere historical footnote, and we are indebted to all involved in bringing it to life so appealingly.

Pine gives a competitive account of the Beethoven, and plays her own attractive cadenzas for both works. Serebrier, needless to add, is with her every step of the way, providing a real partnership rather than mere "accompaniment." They are well served by the truly excellent recording and, although each concerto, at 40 minutes plus, has a disc to itself, the slimline set is offered for the price of a single CD.