Rodolphe Kreutzer was renowned both as a violinist and a composer. As the former, he was famous for his technical skills and his musicality in executing them. As the latter, he was known for his 19 concertos and 40 operas.

Laurent Albrecht Breuninger is renowned as both a violinist and a composer. As the former, he’s famous for his technical skills and musicality in executing them. As the latter, he’s known for his prize-winning chamber music (most featuring the violin).

Breuninger playing Kreutzer seemed the perfect match. And after auditioning this recording, I believe it was. Kreutzer’s concertos (like many of the day) were written primarily to showcase the skill of the soloist — Rodolphe Kreutzer. What elevates these works is the lyricism of the melodies. Kreutzer had a gift for melody (hence the operas).

Breuninger seems to understand that. Yes, there are lots of technical fireworks in these concertos. Rapid passagework (with and without double stops), extreme register hops, and so on. But in Breuninger’s performances, these tricks seem to further rather than interrupt the music.

Breuninger performs with a warm, beautiful tone that often seems to just sing. Cascading 32nd notes are plays with amazing clarity. And their phrasing is impeccable, too. Breuninger never loses sight of the melodic structure of his solos and ensures the listener doesn’t either.

The Südwestdeutsches Kammerorchester Pforzheim, directed by Timo Handschuh provides excellent support. But really, these concertos are all about the solo violin. And Breuninger’s inspired reading — from one composer/violinist to another — make this recording a joy to listen to.

Rodolphe Kreutzer: Violin Concertos 1, 6, & 7
Laurent Albrecht Breuninger, violin
Südwestdeutsches Kammerorchester Pforzheim; Timo Handschuh, conductor
CPO 555 206-2