Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto in E minor; Symphony No. 4 in A (Italian); The Hebrides Overture

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COMPOSERS: Mendelssohn
LABELS: Claves
WORKS: Violin Concerto in E minor; Symphony No. 4 in A (Italian); The Hebrides Overture
PERFORMER: Daniel Röhn (violin); Capella Istropolitana/David Heer
Mendelssohn’s finest and most popular overture, concerto and symphony – if choice of works were everything, this would have made an excellent introduction to this composer. But although the Capella Istropolitana sounds like an alert and disciplined band, there isn’t a lot of excitement or inner life to be found in these polished, well-mannered performances. The only point in the Violin Concerto when the music-making rises above a gentle simmer is towards the end of the finale – thanks mostly to soloist Daniel Röhn’s agile, taut playing. The first movement is generally too laid-back – not a hint of Mendelssohn’s marking ‘appassionato’. Things improve a bit in the Italian Symphony, and yet it still tends to sound calculated – ‘cultivated’ in the pejorative sense. As for the Hebrides Overture, there’s nothing elemental about this seascape – it’s a safely cosseted pretend sea-journey at a well-regulated theme park, not in any sense the real thing. The recording tends to boom in full orchestral fortes, with upper strings and woodwind not immune from hardness. Stephen Johnson