Liza Ferschtman performs Mendelssohn’s ‘best-loved works’

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Mendelssohn
LABELS: Challenge Classics
ALBUM TITLE: Mendelssohn
WORKS: Violin Concerto; Octet
PERFORMER: Liza Ferschtman (violin); Itamar Zorman, Elina Vähälä, Corina Belcea (violin), Krzysztof Chorzelski, Marc Desmons (viola), Sebastian Klinger, Antoine Lederlin (cello); Het Gelders Orkest/Kees Bakels
CATALOGUE NO: CC72748 (hybrid CD/SACD)

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Two of Mendelssohn’s best-loved works are paired here in performances that could make you fall in love with them afresh, if you needed to. In the Violin Concerto the Dutch violinist Liza Ferschtman proves a flexible soloist with an interpretation that is strongly emotional in the best sense. Her playing seems to focus first and foremost on colour, nuance and expression, rather than powerful tone for the sake of it, and she is alive to the rapid progression of Mendelssohn’s ideas, the playfulness and moments of introversion as well as the passion. She uses portamento quite fulsomely, which might not be to everyone’s taste, yet there is nothing about it that could be regarded as unidiomatic or gratuitous. Kees Bakels and the Gelders Orchestra prove sympathetic accompanists and their textures are delivered with suitable lightness of touch and a welcome transparency. 

The Octet – composed when Mendelssohn was all of 16 – is always a joy, and the live performance here, recorded in summer 2016 at the Delft Chamber Music festival, of which Ferschtman is artistic director, is a case in point. The fizz and verve of the piece jump off the page most gratifyingly, with the full complement of driving energy, intimacy, tenderness, humour and bounce. That probably won’t come as a surprise if you look at the line-up of performers – though this critic was thinking ‘gosh, this is terrific’ without having looked at the booklet first to find out who they were. Sound quality throughout the disc is bright, clear and reasonably warm.

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Jessica Duchen