Christian Tetzlaff's effortless virtuosity, purity of intonation, and slight emotional reticence perfectly suits Sibelius, making this the finest available collection of the Finnish composer's music for violin and orchestra. In the concerto, Tetzlaff's relative coolness makes the music sound more like Sibelius and less like a violin concerto, which is all to the good. That doesn't mean he lacks anything in sheer technique: indeed, his first-movement cadenza impresses as one of the most impressively concentrated and musically satisfying on disc. Tetzlaff's slow movement sings but avoids panting and heaving, while the finale realizes the music's gentle melancholy as well as its more thrusting elements. He's nicely accompanied by Thomas Dausgaard, whose gentle support perfectly suits the overall interpretation.
What makes this disc truly special, though, is the inclusion of the charming and sadly neglected later pieces, especially the characterful Humoresques and the charming Two Serenades. There's no question that Tetzlaff's approach represents a thoroughly idiomatic realization of this curious and subtle music (whereas in the concerto some may prefer a more barn-burning perspective). Here, with no barns to burn, we can enjoy Tetzlaff's elegant phrasing, winsome tone, and sheer musicality with no qualms whatsoever. Virgin's recording is well-balanced but somewhat low-level. Turning up the volume adds considerably to the music's presence and impact.—David Hurwitz