María Dueñas Beethoven and Beyond
The Spanish violinist María Dueñas presents her debut album with one of the most musically demanding and emotionally profound works in the repertoire – Beethoven’s Violin Concerto. “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.” Recorded live at Vienna’s Musikverein with the Wiener Symphoniker and Manfred Honeck it is now the opening work on her Deutsche Grammophon debut album, Beethoven and Beyond. Featuring her own newly written cadenzas for each movement, the recording reveals María Dueñas as both performer and composer.
As noted by Spanish music magazine Codalario in a review of one of her January 2023 performances at the Musikverein, Dueñas’s strength of personality emerged to the full when, during the first movement, she stepped away from tradition to offer her own cadenza. “It was like a breath of fresh air,” wrote the critic, “revealing her beautiful sound, with double and triple stops, rich trills and, above all, despite its modernity, an enormous respect for the essence of Beethoven.”
Fascinated by the process of composition, not content with writing and recording cadenzas for all three movements herself, Dueñas has recorded five other Beethoven first-movement cadenzas. These demonstrate five very different approaches to the concerto by composers of various periods and cultural backgrounds. They range from that of Beethoven’s contemporary Spohr, with its Mozartian touches, to the virtuosity of Kreisler’s famous cadenza, via the immense technical demands made by Wieniawski and Ysaÿe and the Romantic spirit of Saint-Saëns’s version.
Adding further depth to her debut album, the artist has chosen to include another work for violin and orchestra by each of the five. Among her selections are three well-known favourites: Kreisler’s Liebesleid, Saint-Saëns’ Havanaise and Wieniawski’s Légende. Less familiar are the sublime Adagio from Spohr’s Symphonie concertante No. 1 and Ysaÿe’s Berceuse.
María Dueñas, who has been studying in Vienna with the world-renowned Professor Boris Kuschnir for several years, won first prize with her interpretation of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto at the final of the Viktor Tretyakov International Violin Competition in September 2021. By then, DG had already invited her to record the work on the strength of a performance given earlier that year with the Dresdner Philharmoniker and Marek Janowski. “Beethoven’s Violin Concerto has accompanied me during the most important moments of my life,” notes Dueñas. “The move from Germany to Vienna on the recommendation of my mentor Maestro Vladimir Spivakov, my education, and now the recording – Beethoven has always played a part.” She is particularly pleased to have recorded the work with Manfred Honeck, another of her mentors.
“[Dueñas’s] combination of tautness and elasticity, of drive and sensitivity, was as enchanting as the focused, luminous tone of her violin.”
Der Standard, reviewing Dueñas’s Beethoven performance at the Musikverein, January 2023
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN (1770–1827)
CONCERTO FOR VIOLIN AND ORCHESTRA IN D MAJOR op. 61
Cadenzas: María Dueñas
1 I. Allegro ma non troppo
2 II. Larghetto
3 III. Rondo. Allegro
LOUIS SPOHR (1784–1859)
4 ADAGIO WoO 13/II
2nd mvt. from Symphonie concertante No. 1 for violin, harp and orchestra in G major
EUGÈNE YSAŸE (1858–1931)
5 BERCEUSE op. 20
CAMILLE SAINT-SAËNS (1835–1921)
6 HAVANAISE op. 83
HENRYK WIENIAWSKI (1835–1880)
7 LÉGENDE op. 17
FRITZ KREISLER (1875–1962)
CADENZAS FOR THE 1ST MVT. OF BEETHOVEN’S VIOLIN CONCERTO BY:
1 LOUIS SPOHR
2 EUGÈNE YSAŸE
3 CAMILLE SAINT-SAËNS
4 HENRYK WIENIAWSKI
5 FRITZ KREISLER
MARÍA DUEÑAS violin
MANFRED HONECK conductor