Nemanja Radulović Puts a New Spin on Two Classics on ‘Beethoven, Violin Concerto, Op. 61, and “Kreutzer” Sonata, Op. 47’

At 32 players, the orchestra is not especially small, but going conductor-free gives their performance an active, energetic quality.

By Miranda Wilson | From the March-April 2024 issue of Strings Magazine

This pairing by violinist Nemanja Radulović of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto and the “Kreutzer” Sonata puts a new spin on two much-recorded canonic works: both are accompanied by a chamber orchestra. The Double Sens ensemble, founded by Radulović, performs the orchestral accompaniment to the concerto and Radulović’s own arrangement for violin and strings of the “Kreutzer.” It is an ambitious, even daring, plan and one that works well for the concerto. At 32 players, the orchestra is not especially small, but going conductor-free gives their performance an active, energetic quality. Radulović’s opening solo rises out of the chamber-like texture with ease and naturalness. While the microphone placement has him sounding very bright and direct, this does not detract from the lightness of his tone or his sparkling phrasing. A particularly effective moment is his interaction in the second movement with clarinetist Veljko Klenkovski, which comes across as a touching dialogue of equals.


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Beethoven, Violin Concerto, Op. 61, and “Kreutzer” Sonata, Op. 47, Nemanja Radulović, violin and direction, Double Sens (Warner Classics)
Beethoven, Violin Concerto, Op. 61, and “Kreutzer” Sonata, Op. 47, Nemanja Radulović, violin and direction, Double Sens (Warner Classics)

For the “Kreutzer” Sonata, the ensemble is less convincing. It cannot have been easy to arrange a work for strings whose original version is so carefully conceived for the violin-piano dyad, since many idiomatic nuances for the piano require adaptation to be playable on a stringed instrument. Even taking this into account, it is surprising to hear an introspective turn for the pianist’s left hand translated into a cadenza-like flourish for the principal cellist. Some sections of the first movement work well, but others begin to sound disconcertingly like one of Brahms’ Hungarian dances for orchestra. 

The second and third movements of the sonata fare better, and Radulović’s decision to juxtapose solos by smaller groups of string players against tutti sections cleverly recalls the technique of the Baroque concerto grosso. Throughout, Radulović’s playing is effortlessly clean and light. Even if his arrangement may raise some eyebrows, his performance sells it well.