The Musical World, Vol. XXII, No. 20 (May 15, 1847), p. 313.

Philharmonic Concerts

Beethoven Concerto, Herr Joachim

[…] This concerto — like the pianoforte concerto in G, played by Dr Mendelssohn at the last concert — should only be attempted by an artist who is equally a musician and a finished executant. The general complaint that it is not written for the display of the violinist’s peculiar powers, abounding rather in passages and tours de force than in canto — the latter being principally developed in the orchestra — is not altogether without truth. But the zealous musician will bear in mind that Beethoven should be interpreted at any sacrifice, and that in giving expression to his immortal inspirations the egotism of self-display is irrelevant and unartist-like. What Beethoven has written must be performed as it is written, and that in faith and humbleness. Joseph Joachim is one of those who best understand and most willingly accept this condition. He knows and feels that in giving a tongue to Beethoven’s thoughts he is glorifying his art, and he has too much modesty to regard himself at such a moment. But he has the secret of so interpreting the great master as to produce more effect than the most practised performer of fantasias could arrive at in the execution of never-so-brilliant and flighty a bravura-piece; and this he proved triumphantly on Monday night. It was a great and noble and artistic performance in every respect. To speak of the excellencies of the young violinist were to catalogue almost all the perfections that result from long and arduous study, facilitated by a rare and natural aptitude. The fullness and beauty of his tone, the correctness of his method, the rapidity and evenness of his scale passages, the sweeping grandeur of his arpeggios, the closeness and equality of his shake, the crisp lightness and energy of his staccato, and the healthy vigour of his style, which lends itself easily and unaffectedly to every variety of expression, from the most energetic to the most tender, are alike worthy of praise. These were exhibited to singular advantage, albeit he had to manifest them on a violin (a Guarnerius), which, though sufficiently good for an ordinary player, was scarcely capable of resisting the energy of his attack, or of answering all the exigencies of his tone. His cadenzas, of which there were two (in the allegro and the finale), were admirable as musical conceptions, and astonishing displays of mechanical force. Formed upon the themes of the respective movements in which they were introduced, they appeared as natural episodes in the work, rather than as superogatory demonstrations of executive skill. The applause was warm and frequent without, and at the end quite enthusiastic. Since he last performed this concerto at the Philharmonic, three years ago, Joachim has made great progress, although even then, as a mere child, he caused some of the first violinists to tremble for their reputation. How much farther he may go it is impossible to guess, for it is not easy to put bounds to the aspirations of such extraordinary genius and energy.