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The Freiburg Baroque Orchestara and soloists inject spirit and innovation into Mendelssohns's immature early works
Repertoire: Double Concerto for violin and piano; Piano Concerto in A Minor
Artists: Kristian Bezuidenhout (fp), Freiburg Baroque Orchestra/Gottfried von der Goltz (vln)
Label: Harmonia Mundi HMC902082
The Music: A child prodigy to rival Mozart, these two concertos are convincing examples of Mendelssohn’s remarkable talent and ambition, aged 15! The earlier A minor Piano Concerto hints at contemporary works Felix would have heard, but the Double Concerto completed six months later shows greater originality and a more mature writing style.
The Performance: There’s a tendency for Mendelssohn’s early music to be performed with an earnest briskness, underlining that this is a teenager in a hurry! There is verve and spirit in these performances, but only where the composer demands it. By contrast, the soloists in the Double Concerto relish the Romantic intensity of the Adagio although pianist Kristian Bezuidenhout does deliver some flashy fingerwork in the finale in the A minor Concerto. In both concertos the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra brings out all that is new and innovative in these immature works.
The Verdict: This is ‘a must’ if you love Mendelssohn and want to hear his early works given a polished, characterful performance, always remembering these are youthful compositions not to be compared with his later compositions.
Want More? Mendelssohn’s string symphonies, written at the same time, are equally delightful, especially the recordings by Amsterdam New Sinfonietta (BIS BIS-SACD-1738). Jane Jones