Christian Tetzlaff, Snape Maltings/Queen Elizabeth Hall, Suffolk/London

The violinist who set his Prom alight
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The Independent Culture

The violinist Christian Tetzlaff has been around for a long while, but it was only when he played a Prom in August that we British clocked him. It was partly his immaculately pure tone, partly the daring that intermittently broke through his modest façade, and particularly the off-the- wall cadenza he gave to Beethoven's Violin Concerto. Whence that?

"I played it first when I was 15," he says. "It's the only one by Beethoven we have, so it gives the clearest impression as to what his improvisation was like. He just went crazy, and I felt that if he allowed himself to do that, maybe we should follow suit.'

Born 40 years ago into a musical family in Hamburg, Tetzlaff says that, while he always assumed he would become a professional, he didn't take it seriously until he was 14. "I'm a very good sight-reader, so my teachers were too easily satisfied. The most practice I ever did was just two hours a day."

Things changed when he went to Lübeck conservatoire, and fell into the hands of a professor who pushed him to the limit. At 18, he entered his first big competition and came second, "but that didn't change anything. My career developed gently. There was no point when it kicked off like crazy".

Since then, he has been steadily performing and recording, and has now come round to rerecording his beloved Bach Sonatas. How will the new recording differ from the one he did 12 years ago? "Wilder and freer, I hope."

He attracts students like the Pied Piper when he tours - some follow him around the world - and what he's doing this weekend is also, in its way, didactic: as mentor to the Borletti-Buitoni Trust's latest budding stars, he's heading them in concerts in Suffolk and London. This scheme goes for the slow burn, too. "Because young meteors burn out," says Tetzlaff.

Snape Maltings Concert Hall, Snape (01728 6871 10), 30 September; Queen Elizabeth Hall, London SE1 (08703 800 400), 1 October

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