In 1975 and 1977, the Russian-German composer Alfred Schnittke wrote cadenzas for each of the three movements of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto for his colleague Gidon Kremer. Although they deal with Beethoven’s themes, these cadenzas are in Schnittke’s modernist style. The first begins with the violin playing the stark interval of a minor second. It also incorporates the timpani (as Beethoven did when he transcribed the work as a piano concerto).
The Schnittke version was recorded by Kremer with the Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields under Neville Marriner in 1982. Critics called it a great performance, ruined by Schnittke’s interpolations. (Kremer recorded the first and third movement cadenzas only; Israeli violinist Vadim Gluzman does the same here.)
Gluzman and American conductor James Gaffigan give another satisfying performance. The sweetness of Gluzman’s high notes is palpable in the slow movement, while Gaffigan takes care not to go overboard on ‘period’ qualities like speed and sharp attack. The Lucerne Orchestra’s sonority matches Gluzman’s warmth.
They have coupled the Beethoven with the third of...