Christian Tetzlaff. Photo by Giorgia Bertazzi.

By Marie Louise James

On Jan. 23, German violinist Christian Tetzlaff performed a solo violin concert in Richardson Auditorium in Alexander Hall on the Princeton University Campus. His performance was phenomenal, and its brilliance completely erased the fact that he was replacing Julia Fischer, who was unable to perform due to family reasons.

Tetzlaff’s varied program featured Eugène Ysaÿe’s Sonata for Solo Violin in G Minor, Bach’s Sonata for Violin Solo No. 3 in C Major, György Kurtág’s Signs, Games and Messages, and Bartók’s Sonata for Unaccompanied Violin. The program of the concert showcased the full range of Tetzlaff’s talents as both a virtuoso technician and a lyrical artist.

Christian Tetzlaff has it all: musical integrity, superb technique, and freshness in interpretation. He bewitched the audience with his powerful performance, playing with mastery and virtuosity. Because of the diverse repertoire, Tetzlaff molded to each piece with expertise and precision.

He performed with breathtaking intensity and accuracy, and his stage presence was hypnotic. He cast a spell over the audience with the intensity of the pianissimo passages especially in Ysaÿe’s Sonata. During certain phrases, Tetzlaff played with moving delicacy, and in other passages, such as those in Bartók’s Sonata, he played with such ardor and force that the hairs on his bow split, needing to be carefully plucked before the next movement.

Tetzlaff received a standing ovation and responded with two encores: Paganini’s 16th Caprice and Andante from Bach’s Violin Sonata No. 2 in A minor. His performance of Paganini’s Caprice displayed his nimble fingering technique, while Bach’s Andante displayed Tetzlaff’s lyrical gifts. He played amazingly complex double-stops and maintained expressive phrases with smooth and effortless bowing.

It is no wonder that Tetzlaff is internationally known as one of the most talented violinists of his generation. His concert at Richardson Auditorium was memorable and captivating.

The next concert at Richardson Auditorium, a concert including selections from Hugo Wolf’s Spanisches Liederbuch, will be performed by Angelika Kirschlager, Ian Bostridge and Julius Drake tonight, Thursday, Feb. 7, at 8 p.m. The concert series at Richardson Auditorium runs until May 9. More information is online at

Marie Louise James is a freshman at Princeton High School and a member of the PHS Symphonia Orchestra.