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Mendelssohn: Violin Concertos in E minor & D minor; Violin Sonata, Op. 4 / Tianwa Yang, violin; Romain Decharmes, piano

Album Summary

>Mendelssohn, Felix : Concerto for Violin in D minor
>Mendelssohn, Felix : Sonata for Violin and Piano in F minor, Op. 4
Performers Conductor Ensembles Composer

Notes & Reviews:

Following on from her recent highly acclaimed recording of the complete works for violin and piano of Wolfgang Rihm (8.572730), Tianwa Yang turns her attention to one of the great 19th century violin concertos, coupled with two of Mendelssohn's youthful yet astonishingly mature works.

BBC Music Magazine, March 2013
In Tianwa Yang...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...The E minor Concerto is unreservedly splendid.

Gramophone Magazine, March 2013
Yang manages to reveal the early work neither as merely a disposable confection by a precocious child nor as a masterpiece in its own right...Where the concertos showcase Yang's presence of sound and lyrical grace on a grand scale, the sonata offers her fluid phrasing a more intimate though less interesting canvas.

American Record Guide, July/August 2013
In fact, it's a very good classical-era work for violin solo and string orchestra, here made to sound exceptionally interesting and exciting. In this early concerto Chinese soloist Yang and Gallois show their chops. The fluid flow is exciting because of the alert pacing and spiky articulation in fast passages. The dialog between soloist and orchestra is tight and supportive, and their full range of expression is exhilarating. The middle movement is very lyrical, with Yang giving her line full expression and Gallois nicely drawing the harmonic movement out of the orchestra. The finale is really brisk and buoyant, a furious delight, with Yang making the cadenza, which occurs half-way through the movement, facetious and very playful.


Low Key Mendelssohn
In this recording of the beloved E Minor Concerto textures are invariably light and airy. Tempos are moderate and those pesky dynamic contrasts have been minimized. The orchestra stays respectfully in the background at all times. Herr Mendelssohn may not have been the most passionate composer in history, but he was a skilled dramatist who left his performers--especially the soloist in this concerto--plenty of room for expression. Yet Ms. Yang glosses over all these opportunities and ignores the score's intense lyricism. Her lackluster reading makes this enchanting music seem trivial.

There have been countless recordings of the Mendelssohn Concerto, dating back to the legendary Eugene Ysaye at the turn of the 20th century. For me the most consistently satisfying has been the Mercury disc by the great Polish virtuoso, Henryk Szeryng. In Szeryng’s hands Mendelssohn's gossamer melodies soar and sparkle, and his flair for the score's inherent drama is a thing of wonder. His accompanist, conductor Antal Dorati, supports him enthusiastically at every turn, and Szeryng’s tone has a luster and richness that puts Yang's thin, reedy sound to shame.

The remainder of Naxos’s program is devoted to the earnest, if unremarkable efforts of the teenaged Mendelssohn. These pieces lack the assurance and melodic riches of his youthful masterworks: the Midsummer Night's Dream Overture and Octet. The D Minor Concerto dates from Mendelssohn's 13th year and finds him to be a dutiful pupil who recently studied the violin concertos of Vivaldi. The Red Priest's presence permeates the outer movements, while the central andante sounds like an homage to Beethoven. Yang's understated approach is more suited to this music, which she delivers with considerable enthusiasm, panache, and good humor. Her elegant performance is certainly worth an occasional hearing, if you can tolerate the rather bland music.

Yang is less compelling in the Sonata, which was written a year after the D Minor Concerto. Once again Beethoven was the inspiration for this score. Alas the 14 year old Mendelssohn was no Beethoven. Here Yang and pianist Descharmes appear to be sight-reading. Their performance lacks purpose or direction, and the violinist's tone is wiry and devoid of warmth. Tempos are moderate, and the result is utterly joyless. The pianist’s attacks are far too percussive, and her playing lacks the charm this delicate music requires.
Submitted on 10/05/13 by Tom Godell 
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Works Details

>Mendelssohn, Felix : Concerto for Violin in D minor
  • Performer: Tianwa Yang (Violin)
  • Conductor: Patrick Gallois
  • Ensemble: Sinfonia Finlandia Jyvaskyla
  • Notes: Hankasalmi Church, Jyväskylä, Finland (09/01/2010-09/03/2010)
  • Running Time: 27 min. 12 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Form: Concerto
  • Written: 09/16/1844

>Mendelssohn, Felix : Concerto for Violin in D minor
  • Performer: Tianwa Yang (Violin)
  • Conductor: Patrick Gallois
  • Notes: Hankasalmi Church, Jyväskylä, Finland (08/30/2010/08/31/2010)
  • Running Time: 20 min. 30 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Form: Concerto
  • Written: 1822

>Mendelssohn, Felix : Sonata for Violin and Piano in F minor, Op. 4
  • Performers: Tianwa Yang (Violin); Romain Descharmes (Piano)
  • Running Time: 18 min. 51 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Written: 06/03/1823