What does tradition mean in music? The overall shape of Beethoven’s violin concerto was not in itself radical (even the linking of the final two movements) but in its breadth and ambition, it marked a defiant break with tradition. Berg’s concerto – for all its Second Viennese School pedigree – is an essentially romantic work, while some of the gestures in Bartók’s concertos can be traced back to Mozart.


These are some of the issues explored in this big recording project. Big, but with a simple aim: to take a slice from the history of the violin concerto and use it to demonstrate that all three composers are cooking from similar ingredients. As Katharina Uhde writes in the thought-provoking annotation which accompanies this release: “If we could ask Beethoven, Berg or Bartók, they would probably describe the relationship between an individual work and its predecessors as a complex negotiation with the past.”

What does this mean in practice? A consistently lyrical approach by Zimmermann, for one thing – a sense of ‘line,’ in the...