LABELS: Naxos Historical
ALBUM TITLE: Mendelssohn, Bruch
WORKS: Violin Concerto in D minor
PERFORMER: Yehudi Menuhin (violin); RCA Victor String Orchestra; BPO/Wilhelm Furtwängler; Boston SO/Charles Munch
CATALOGUE NO: 8.110991
This 1952 recording of Mendelssohn’s youthful D minor Concerto is the first where Yehudi Menuhin acted as soloist and conductor. Not that there are any problems of ensemble: the orchestra follows him through every twist and turn, and, in the outer movements, with an energy almost bordering on aggression. This impression is reinforced by the harsh and reverberant recording, which also gives Menuhin’s tone an edge in louder music. But when things are calmer, there’s vibrancy of sound and sophistication in the phrasing, giving distinction to essentially slight music.
The recording quality is more muffled in the Bruch – an account recorded in 1951 which, like the Mendelssohn, hasn’t been available for years. Menuhin has a few problems in the finale, but the adagio nicely balances sweetness with a determination not to allow the music to get mired in sentimentality. Most familiar is ‘the’ Mendelssohn Concerto with Furtwängler, a weighty performance that’s an essential in Menuhin’s discography. Martin Cotton