Revealing new cadenzas in the Beethoven concerto

Revealing new cadenzas in the Beethoven concerto

Why Beethoven

norman lebrecht

March 25, 2023

From the press release for Maria Duenas’ DG debut album;

“You can’t rely on virtuosity in Beethoven’s concerto; you have to reveal yourself,” says María Dueñas. And that can only be done through sound.” The supremely talented Spanish violinist will launch her Deutsche Grammophon career in bold fashion by delivering an intriguingly individual interpretation of the Beethoven Violin Concerto, one of the most musically demanding and emotionally profound works in the repertoire. The concerto was recorded live during a recent run of three acclaimed performances at Vienna’s Musikverein with the Wiener Symphoniker and Manfred Honeck. Featuring her own newly written cadenzas for each movement, the recording reveals María Dueñas as both performer and composer. To complement these works and the concerto, Dueñas has recorded a companion disc of cadenzas written for the first movement of the Beethoven by five famous composers. Beethoven and Beyond is scheduled for release on 5 May 2023


  • Samach says:

    At her best, she can play with a gorgeous beguiling tone. Her musical sensibility is to wallow in beautiful moments.

    But it’s hard to discern what her musical logic is, why she wallows where she does, the overall impression is that she settles on a moderate andante-ish tempo, accelerates in easier passages, slows down on harder passages, even within the same phrase, and wallows more and more as she plays along, across the repertory from classical to romantic indiscriminately.

  • mel says:

    An extremely talented musician, she absolutely owned the Lalo she has been playing in North America the past few months (spectacular in Chicago) with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. I am looking forward to hearing this.

  • This concerto is so LOOOOOONG says:

    That’s the first Beethoven Violin Concerto release in half a year with a new cadenza…at least this one is written by the violinist herself (or is it?)….hopefully doesn’t feature solo double bass and timpani like the other two…

  • This concerto is so LOOOOOONG says:

    Sorry the third *

  • Serge says:

    Yes, I’m an old and grumpy man. But a 20-year old (yes, the age is of importance here) with a revelation of Beethoven violin concerto? No, I don’t believe it, and neither do you. What is the rush here! Give her good advisors, patience, and I hope she will blossom.

    • Adam Stern says:

      For what it’s worth: from the film “The Competition”.

      >> If we lived in a world of sanity, no one would even expect you to start concertizing until you were in your late ‘20s so you could keep studying and enlarging [your]repertoire and deepening as a person and growing up to be a national treasure. But if you waited that long, no one would ever book you. They want you fresh out of the egg or not at all. They must waste five hundred good pianists a year that way.

      — Piano teacher Lee Remick to her student Amy Irving

  • Harry Collier says:

    After Mozart and Beethoven, composers learned to write their own cadenzas, often with an expert violin advisor (David, Joachim). Some first movement cadenzas for the Beethoven concerto seem to go on for hours, with a violinist’s ego trip. Violinists should not try to compete with Mozart or Beethoven. Short, succinct, virtuoso, but with a limited time span. Just a short showing-off.

  • Mystic Chord says:

    Record labels just love new artists recording the classics before they are ready – take a bow DG; they just can’t help themselves. Anne-Sophie Mutter recorded the Beethoven age 17 I believe for DG. A few years ago I heard her play it at the RFH and there was just no comparison of course in the performance. Maturity and experience counts for a lot in this concerto – the depth of feeling and nobility she brought to it was really very moving indeed. Record labels really need to be more imaginative, they are not helping the development of new talent with these releases.

  • Herbie G says:

    Sounds like much hype over nothing. Who in their right mind would pay to hear loads of cadenzas for the same concerto end to end? Is this going to displace Neveu, Heifetz, Grumiaux, Szeryng, Oistrakh and Perlman – to mention just a few?

    ‘You can’t rely on virtuosity in Beethoven’s concerto; you have to reveal yourself.’ She certainly does that! Maybe she could play the Kreutzer Sonata with Yuja Wang – a universally revelatory experience. I’d rather she stuck to revealing Beethoven.

    …”reveals María Dueñas as both performer and composer”. ‘Really? Sadly (or maybe mercifully), I never learned how to write music. But I am sure that I could invent a few cadenzas for the Beethoven Violin Concerto, pick them out with one hand on the keybord, capturing them on a USB stick, and get someone to notate them. If they are any good, and if I could get someone to record them, would that count as my debut as a composer?

    • trumpetherald says:

      Sounds like someone babbling on without having listened to the subject he adds his two cents on,like 70 percent of the “commentators “here….Just BTW,send us your cadenzas on USB stick! We are dying of curiosity.

  • David K. Nelson says:

    Some thoughts on age, the Beethoven Violin Concerto, and cadenzas to same. It can I hope be commonly agreed that the “standard” cadenzas for this Concerto are those by Fritz Kreisler and Joseph Joachim.

    Kreisler wrote his when he was all of 19 years old. The cellist in his little Tyrolean band admired them greatly particularly the combining of the two first movement themes (his name being Arnold Schoenberg). But of course, Kreisler at that age had been a composition student of Leo Delibes and a counterpoint student of Anton Bruckner so he had those advantages.

    As for Joachim’s cadenzas for the Beethoven Concerto, we know he played cadenzas written by himself at the famous 1844 concert conducted by Mendelssohn which essentially resurrected the Concerto from a couple of decades of relative neglect. Both his performance and his cadenzas were highly praised at the time. He was a little under 13 years old at that concert. And we know from a letter of Ferdinand David that Joachim had written a cadenza for the concerto the prior year, 1843 — when Joachim was 12 years old. An 1852 manuscript has been found suggesting that Joachim continued to revise them. His cadenzas were not published until years later but the evidence suggests that the 1840s material survived in them.

  • Adam Stern says:

    I once heard an anecdote about an orchestra whose concertmaster was a good leader, but not a particularly great solo player. In spite of this, the conductor would sometimes feature the concertmaster as soloist when the orchestra would play a runout concert. More often than not, the concertmaster’s concerto of choice was the Beethoven. When they got to the finale, the orchestra members would sing under their breath, “Thank GOD it’s O-ver, thank GOD it’s O-ver…”

  • Tony Sanderson says:


    You have featured two recordings on of the Beethoven violin concerto, this one and one with the LSO with candezas by Jorg Widmann, I think it was.

    Are you willing to express a preference?

  • Tamino says:

    “There are two kinds of fools, those who say something is young and therefore better, and those who say something is old and therefore better.”

    Certainly age brings experience and knowledge, ideally improving the depth of an interpretation.
    But look at the age of many classical composers when they wrote some of their master pieces. Often in their twenties or even younger!