Mendelssohn: Piano Concerto in A minor; Concerto for Violin, Piano and Strings in D minor

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COMPOSERS: Mendelssohn
LABELS: Teldec Das Alte Werk
WORKS: Piano Concerto in A minor; Concerto for Violin, Piano and Strings in D minor
PERFORMER: Andreas Staler (fortepiano), Rainer Kussmaul (violin); Concerto Köln
CATALOGUE NO: 0630-13152-2
Mendelssohn’s A minor Piano Concerto of 1822, composed when he was, amazingly, only 13, responds well to Concerto Koln’s very well-prepared period-instrument treatment, which serves to underline the work’s antecedents by Beethoven, Hummel and, above all, Mozart. Some alluring detail emerges — including a whispering, Weber-derived figure in the middle strings, several magical transitions, and eerie, drumming pizzicati punctuating the rapid mood swings of the engaging finale.

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Andreas Staler produces a Resourceful range of dynamic from a Fritz fortepiano of comparable date. The Adagio, which prefigures other song-like Mendelssohn slow movements, emerges as a mesmerising blend of Mozartian reverie, Baroque melancholy and operatic scena.

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Mendelssohn’s equally precocious D minor Concerto for Violin and Piano dates from just a year later. Staier and Concerto Köln bring crispness once more to the opening Allegro, which is soon uplifted by the pure, succulent Stradivarius tone of Rainer Kussmaul (concert master of the Berlin Philharmonic). Some cheerful dialogue between soloists and a spirited, toccata-like joint cadenza contrast colourfully with more staid passages of violin recitative. The lulling Adagio is sustained by some especially warm string colouring from this adroit ensemble, whose buoyancy lends precision, vigour and excitement to the lively last movement. Roderic Dunnett