Violin Concerto in E minor; Octet
Chouchane Siranossian (violin); Anima Eterna Brugge/Jakob Lehmann
Alpha Classics ALPHA 410 59:46 mins
This coupling of the Octet and Violin Concerto, in the versions dated 1825 and 1844 respectively in which they were first performed, before Mendelssohn’s mania for revision took over, is something of a revelation. True, the differences in the Concerto are mostly in the solo part: variations in figuration, a different version of the first-movement cadenza, and so on. But the accomplished Chouchane Siranossian has also gone back to the phrase-markings of the original soloist, Ferdinand David, which are often in variance with the published version. Accordingly, the very opening of the work already comes as a shock, not only in the impetuous speed with which Jakob Lehmann launches the Bruges-based period instrument orchestra Anima Eterna, but in the vibrato-less shaping of the opening melody with many a sliding portamento.
Mendelssohn’s revisions of the youthful Octet were far more radical. Only the Scherzo escaped his urge to tighten up by snipping not just odd bars here and there, but whole sections. Elsewhere, as at the beginning of the first movement development, long passages were drastically recomposed or replaced with different music. As heard in this fervent, closely recorded performance led by Siranossian, the original emerges as a longer, richer, even wilder version of what is, arguably, the greatest work ever composed by a 16-year old.