Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64; Violin Concerto in D minor; The Fair Melusine Overture

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COMPOSERS: Mendelssohn
LABELS: Black Box iClassics
WORKS: Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64; Violin Concerto in D minor; The Fair Melusine Overture
PERFORMER: Mayumi Seiler (violin); City of London Sinfonia/Richard Hickox
CATALOGUE NO: BBM 3005
Black Box’s iClassics series is presented as a step forward in the recording industry. No longer need the accompanying information be limited to a small booklet. Instead, an iClassics disc, when inserted into the CD-ROM player of a computer, sets up an internet link to a dedicated set of pages on Black Box’s own site. This of course can contain as much information as the record company likes, including, in some cases, supplementary tracks. The disc plays normally in a standard audio CD player, which is just as well for real hi-fi buffs since most computers, especially laptops, fall short of the very highest audio standards. Unfortunately, for this release Black Box has thus far provided little that one would not find in a normal CD booklet, apart from a list of tour dates. It’s also only in English, and the link to an article on a third party’s site was not functioning when I tried it. What’s more, the booklet is just a single folded sheet, giving minimal information.

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To the music. The young Japanese violinist Mayumi Seiler is a real find, and her performances of Mendelssohn’s two concertos are exquisitely beautifully moulded and recorded. The D minor work, written at the age of 13, is an astonishing achievement and here it feels a good deal more mature than the printed note concedes, while the more famous, later piece comes across with a youthful and innocent freshness. Seiler’s sound is glorious, though perhaps she is recorded a shade too much in the foreground, and Richard Hickox and the City of London Sinfonia accompany with acute empathy and subtlety throughout. Stephen Pettitt