Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto; Piano Trio No. 1; Violin Sonata in F

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COMPOSERS: Mendelssohn
LABELS: DG
WORKS: Violin Concerto; Piano Trio No. 1; Violin Sonata in F
PERFORMER: Anne-Sophie Mutter (violin), Lynn Harrell (cello), André Previn (piano); Gewandhausorchester Leipzig/Kurt Masur
CATALOGUE NO: 477 8001

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This disc may upset Mendelssohn devotees – that is, devotees of the Classical, well-behaved Mendelssohn of legend. The truth is, he was always trying to do something new and different, and in the Concerto Mutter takes the opening Allegro molto appassionato at face value and goes on from there. Tempos are variable, but always with reason, and bowing likewise.

In the cadenza, she suddenly moves into spiccato at the point where the main tempo resumes, as if to say ‘Stand back from the platform edge – recapitulation approaching’, and towards the end of the finale a burst of almost Bartókian roughness betokens impatience to get everything done and dusted. But as always, the basic sound is beauty itself and of course the technical challenges are met with total ease. Masur is with her all the way, and if she is recorded a little too closely for some tastes, I was not worried by it.

The Trio has a few inelegant moments, Previn missing one note altogether in an otherwise fleet performance, but the F major Sonata of 1838 comes over with great élan, my only reservation in both works being that the Bösendorfer in the Musikverein sounds a little thin.

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Of the DVD presentations, the less said the better. The relentlessly fast cutting led me to close my eyes in self-defence, and the image of Previn’s head reflected in the piano lid, upside down, must be a candidate for my Loopiest Shot of 2009. But the Concerto sweeps all before it. Listen and learn. Roger Nichols