Mendelssohn Violin Concertos

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Felix Mendelssohn
ALBUM TITLE: Mendelssohn Violin Concertos
WORKS: Violin Concertos in E minor, Op. 64, and D minor, Op. post.; Violin Sonata in F minor, Op. 4
PERFORMER: Tianwa Yang (violin), Romain Descharmes (piano); Sinfonia Finlandia Jväskylä/Patrick Gallois


This disc is not perfect. In the F minor Sonata, the middle register of the piano is unappealing and the acoustic rather dry, making it hard for the pianist to inject any real passion into this early work, which is accomplished (let alone for a 14-year-old) but at times pedestrian; and in the even earlier D minor concerto violinist and conductor have not really resolved their differences over the tempo of the first movement, so that there are two uncomfortable moments when conductor Patrick Gallois recalls the opening ritornello at a suddenly faster speed.

But I would rather set these reservations aside, because in Tianwa Yang (above) we find an artist of exceptional technique and musicianship. Above all, her tone, particularly at the extremes, on the G and E strings, is heart-meltingly beautiful, so that even what look on the page to be the dullest of scales and arpeggios take on a luminous glow. You could argue that her tone lacks that peculiarly Russian and mid-European undertow of melancholy (what Chopin used to refer to as ‘zal’), but instead it is positive and life-affirming – the finale of the D minor Concerto even starts with a hint of swing. The E minor Concerto is unreservedly splendid: tasteful rubatos in the first movement, a purposeful flow in the second, captivating high spirits in the finale, and impeccable technique throughout.


Roger Nichols