Reviewed on Fri 10 Apr, 2015
At first hearing, Isabelle Faust and the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra under Pablo Heras-Casado seem hell-bent on waltzing through the Schumann Concerto’s ¾ finale at an inordinately slow tempo, far slower than most of their rivals. And yet look at the score and their choice of crotchet=63 is spot-on. By contrast, the first movement is marginally faster than marked, which actually does feel right, musically. Much maligned in some quarters and with a history that is stranger than fiction, Schumann’s Violin Concerto is a questioning masterpiece that responds to any number of varied interpretations. Faust and Heras-Casado are tonally ascetic, texturally transparent and generally restrained though with plenty of backbone, quite different to the emotionally yielding Henryk Szerying with Hans Rosbaud conducting (Hänssler Classic 94.229), a newly released 1950s SWR broadcast which tugs at the heart-strings like no other. The slightly earlier Third Piano Trio, equally dark but temperamentally more centred, is superbly played by Faust and her colleagues (try the fierce interjections in the second movement) and both recordings are ideally lifelike. Watching Faust on the well-directed concert DVD (the Concerto only) underlines the intensity of her approach.