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Felix Mendelssohn • Sinding: Violin Concertos etc

Lea Birringer (violin); Hofer Symphoniker/Hermann Bäumer (Rubicon)

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

Felix Mendelssohn • Sinding
Felix Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto in E minor; Sinding: Violin Concerto No. 1; Romance in D, Op. 100
Lea Birringer (violin); Hofer Symphoniker/Hermann Bäumer
Rubicon RCD1081   60:34 mins

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Sinding is remembered almost exclusively for one work: Rustle of Spring, which once graced the music stands of many a piano, and shows that the composer had a flair for the character piece. Given a broader canvas, he tends to sprawl. The opening of this concerto has a superficial resemblance to the finale of Bruch’s First Concerto, which is wrong-footing, leading to expectations which aren’t fulfilled. Although they’re never unattractive, themes are rarely memorable, and the use of sequence, often changing key with unseemly rapidity, leaves an unsettled feeling. The most effective of the three movements is the central Andante, where the slower pace allows the music to unfold in a more organic fashion. It also brings out the best in Lea Birringer, who plays with intensity and a sense of the ebb and flow of the music, but could employ a greater tonal range. That also applies in the Romance, whose title gives away the overall feeling of the music – but it is just that: an overall feeling.

What a contrast with the acknowledged mastery of Mendelssohn’s Concerto, where the musical direction is always clear, and the melodic and rhythmic profiles have real strength. Birringer brings out the lightness of the textures, but sometimes risks skating over the surface of the music. The finale in particular has a rushed feeling, not helped by some lapses of ensemble and, once again, the Andante shows the greatest sympathy in its pacing. In a crowded field, there are more involving versions available.

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Martin Cotton