ViolinChristian Tetzlaff
© Giorgia BertazziArtist

"I think what ultimately moves people is the emotional openness and deep sincerity of Tetzlaff’s playing."

The Boston Globe
27 / 31

Biography

Christian Tetzlaff has been one of the most sought-after violinists and exciting musicians on the classical music scene for many years. “The greatest performance of the work I’ve ever heard,” Tim Ashley wrote in the Guardian about his interpretation of the Beethoven Violin Concerto with Daniel Harding. In the Frankfurter Rundschau Hans-Klaus Jungheinrich called it virtually a “rediscovery” of this frequently played work.

Concerts with Christian Tetzlaff often become an existential experience for interpreter and audience alike; old familiar works suddenly appear in an entirely new light. In addition, he frequently turns his attention to forgotten masterpieces like Joseph Joachim’s Violin Concerto, which he successfully championed, and attempts to establish important new works in the repertoire, such as the Violin Concerto by Jörg Widmann, which he premiered. He has an unusually extensive repertoire and gives approximately 100 concerts every year. Christian Tetzlaff served as Artist in Residence with the Berlin Philharmonic, participated in a concert series over several seasons with New York’s Metropolitan Opera Orchestra under James Levine and appears regularly as a guest with such ensembles as the Vienna and New York Philharmonic Orchestras, the Concertgebouw Orchestra and London’s leading orchestras, working with leading conductors like Andris Nelsons, Robin Ticciati and Vladimir Jurowski.


 

Apart from his tremendous expertise on the violin, there are three things that make the musician, who was born in Hamburg in 1966 and now lives in Berlin with his family, unique. He takes the musical text literally, he understands music as language, and he sees great works as narratives which reflect existential experiences. What sounds so obvious is an unusual approach in the everyday concert routine.

Christian Tetzlaff tries to follow the musical text as closely as possible – without regard for “performance tradition” and without allowing himself the customary technical simplifications on the violin – often making well-known works appear in new clarity and richness. As a violinist Tetzlaff tries to disappear behind the work – and that paradoxically makes his interpretations extremely personal.

Secondly, Christian Tetzlaff “speaks” with his violin. Like human speech, his playing comprises a wide range of expressive means and is not aimed solely at harmoniousness or virtuosic brilliance. Above all, however, he regards the masterpieces of music history as narratives about existential matters. The great composers have focussed on intense feelings, great happiness and serious crises in their music, and as a musician Christian Tetzlaff also explores the limits of feelings and musical expression. Many works deal with nothing less than life and death. Christian Tetzlaff’s goal is to convey that to the audience.

Essential to this approach are the courage to take risks, technical brilliance, openness and alertness to life. Significantly, Christian Tetzlaff played in youth orchestras for many years. His teacher at the Lübeck University of Music was Uwe-Martin Haiberg, for whom musical interpretation is the key to violin technique – not the other way around. Christian Tetzlaff founded his own string quartet in 1994, and chamber music is still as important to him as his work as a soloist with and without orchestra. The Tetzlaff Quartet has received such awards as the Diapason d’or, and the trio with his sister Tanja Tetzlaff and pianist Lars Vogt was nominated for a Grammy. Christian Tetzlaff has also received numerous awards for his solo CD recordings.

He plays a violin made by the German violin maker Peter Greiner and teaches regularly at the Kronberg Academy.

In the 2016/17 season Christian Tetzlaff can be experienced on four continents, among others in New York with the Met Orchestra, with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and as artist of residence with the Netherlands Philharmonic in Amsterdam. With the Tetzlaff Quartet or in trio with Tanja Tetzlaff and Lars Vogt, he will be in Paris, London, Amsterdam, Berlin and other European cities.

SEASON 2016/2017

Quotes

“Tetzlaff’s focus on the long line and, for example, the smoothest possible transition between the first movement and the adagio, gives the piece an exceptional feeling of unity for all the passion; and the finale truly dances, with crisper than usual articulation supported by Storgards’ firmly rhythmic accompaniment.”

ClassicsToday.com, 27 March 2016 David Hurwitz

“I’ve always loved the playing of German violinist Christian Tetzlaff for its chiselled, slightly austere beauty; his approach is totally unsentimental, with no concern for dazzle. So the romantic grandeur with which he opens Suk’s Fantasy in G Minor came as a bit of a shock. So much vibrato! But then, he’s the kind of musician who gets under the skin of a piece and gives what the music needs, rather than applying his own house style no matter what. His performance of Dvořák’s Concerto in A minor is glorious and questioning: full-throttle in the chunky octaves and with a heavy bounce to the finale. But the real brilliance is in the vulnerability and tenderness he reveals in quiet melodies.”

The Gurdian, 10 March 2016 Kate Molleson

“[...] The Philharmonia’s strings brought warmth and intimacy to the Largo second movement before Tanja Tetzlaff entered with a highly expressive, heartfelt melody. Vogt played the meandering piano figurations with enormous sensitivity while Christian Tetzlaff and his sister sustained the melodic line beautifully. In the polonaise finale I particularly enjoyed the boisterous sense of gusto which Christian Tetzlaff brought to the dance rhythms. The dizzying scales were passed between the soloists in a seamless way and the Tetzlaff siblings combined to produce some highly imaginative textures. Orchestra and all three soloists joined forces to great effect in the exciting coda to drive this sterling performance to its conclusion.[...]”

Seenand heard-international.com, 04 February 2017, Robert Beattie

“[...] Beethoven’s Triple Concerto was given a lyrical outing within Järvi’s symphonic approach. There was none of the alltoocommon relaxation at the arrival of calmer melodies, but the elegant way in which the soloists yielded to one another as each in turn repeated or decorated the themes showed great rapport. The cello is generally the first to expound the opening ideas and Beethoven develops them in different ways – the first movement in Sinfonia concertante style but in the central Largo Tanja Tetzlaff announced the tune with utmost gentility before Christian Tetzlaff and Lars Vogt expanded it in their different ways. The subtle entry of the Finale alla polacca has another subtle difference, each solo instrument commenting on the theme rather than varying it.[...]”

Classicalsource.com, 02 February 2017, Antony Hodgson

“The Tetzlaffs deftly negotiated every one, revealing, in the process, one of their most winning traits: an ability to give themselves up completely to a piece, regardless of its mood, message or duration.”

Financial Times, 06 January 2016 Hannah Nepil

“The players make declarations, pose questions, give answers, thrust and parry, chase each other, proceed in lockstep; there are moments of tender lyricism and of furious aggression – I’ve never seen string players subject their instruments to such apparently extreme maltreatment - but the Tetzlaffs encompassed it all with wit and impeccable virtuosity. This was a heroic performance.”

The Independent, 04 January 2016 Michael Church

“Dass dieses (Konzert) so rauschhaft geriet, war ein Verdienst (…) des Geigers Christian Tetzlaff. Spielerische Intelligenz und urmusikalischer Spieltrieb sind bei Tetzlaff trefflich vereint.”

Rhein-Necker-Zeitung, 29 December 2015 Rainer Köhl

“In Aufmachung und Auftreten zeigte sich der Ausnahmegeiger als dezidiert inhaltlich orientierter Mensch. Er verzauberte natürlich mit seiner Virtuosität und dem Klang seiner Geige. Aber auch mit seiner vollendeten Einigkeit mit dem begleitenden und dialogisierenden Orchester.”

Wiesbadener Tagesblatt, 23 November 2015 Doris Kösterke

“[...] Der Geiger scheut im temperamentvoll ausgelebten Ausdruckswillen kein Risiko und keine Kratzer in der Politur. Dabei nimmt er den Hörer mit auf eine fesselnde, oft rasant beschleunigte Gratwanderung durch eine weite Klanglandschaft, in der neben markanten Trillerketten und ruppig-zerklüfteten Doppelgriffen liebliche Piano-Inseln wie kollektiv erkundetes Neuland warten [...] Das Resultat ist der seltene Glücksfall einer Interpretation, die Staub vom Werk bläst und dieses als ganz Gegenwärtiges wiederentstehen lässt. [...]”

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, April 2015 by Volker Milch

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Discography

Schubert HaydnSCHUBERT | HAYDNMar. 2017, Ondine, CD, Available on: iTunes Amazon
Brahms: The Violin SonatasAug. 2016, Ondine, CD, Available on: iTunes Amazon
Dvořák - SukJosef Suk Fantasy in G minor, Antonin Dvořák Violin Concerto in A Minor, Romance, Op. 11Mar. 2016, Ondine ODE 1279-5, CD, Available on: iTunes AmazonSpotify
Mahler Symphony No 4 (Erwin Stein Edition)Festival Ensemble Spannungen Mahler Record Prize 2015Jun. 2015, CAvi-music, CD
Brahms The Piano TriosMay. 2015, Ondine, CD, Available on: iTunes Amazon
Mendelssohn BergMENDELSSOHN · Streichquartett Nr. 2 a-Moll BERG · Lyrische SuiteOct. 2014, CAvi, CD, Available on: iTunes
Shostakovich Violin Concertos 1&2Christian Tetzlaff with the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra and John StorgårdsSep. 2014, Ondine, CD, Available on: Amazon
Schumann Violin SonatasSep. 2013, Ondine, CD, Available on: Amazon
WidmannJörg Widmann: Violinkonzert, Antiphon, Insel der SirenenApr. 2013, Ondine, CD, Available on: Amazon
Mozart: Sonatas for Piano and ViolinNov. 2012, Ondine, CD, Available on: iTunes Amazon
Karol Szymanowski: Concerto for Violin and Orchestra No. 1Song of the Night: Violin Concerto No. 1 & Symphony No.3 by SzymanowskiNov. 2011, DG, CD, Available on: iTunes Amazon
Mendelssohn & Schumann: Violin ConcertosChristian Tetzlaff plays Violin Concertos by Mendelssohn and SchumannNov. 2011, Ondine, CD, Available on: iTunes Amazon
Schumann: Complete Works For Piano TrioComplete Works For Piano TrioApr. 2011, EMI, CD, Available on: iTunes Amazon