Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto; Hebrides Overture; Symphony No 5 review: bringing Mendelssohn back to basics

MENDELSSOHN: VIOLIN CONCERTO; HEBRIDES OVERTURE; REFORMATION SYMPHONYIsabelle Faust (violin), Freiburger Barockorchester/Pablo Heras-Casado *****Harmonia Mundi HMM 902325

Mendelssohn Violin Concerto
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Artist: Isabelle Faust; Pablo Heras-Casado; Felix Mendelssohn
Genre: Classical
Label: Harmonia Mundi

You may be surprised by the recessed, almost faint profile of the solo violin at the start of Isabelle Faust’s new recording of Mendelssohn’s E minor Violin Concerto. That balance and her unusually fine-spun tone are a harbinger of a performance that, more than most, seeks to draw the music back to its mid-19th-century roots.

Vibrato is sparing, the sliding between notes of expressive portamento is more to the fore than usual. And the fresh thinking extends fully to the orchestral contribution of the Freiburger Barockorchester under Spanish conductor Pablo Heras-Casado.

You'll find it, too, in both the Hebrides Overture and Reformation Symphony. But the standout performances is undoubtedly the Violin Concerto.

Michael Dervan

Michael Dervan

Michael Dervan is a music critic and Irish Times contributor

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