Sunday, April 29, 2012

Mintz & Abbado play Mendelssohn and Bruch

Sometimes different works of different composers are related and complementary. Felix Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E Minor Op. 64 and Max Bruch’s Violin Concerto No 1 in G Minor Op. 26 are such pair of works, thus often are connected in programs of many albums. Both are very popular in violin repertoire, both belong to German romanticism highlights and both are best known works of their composers. These works are similar to each other in many formal ideas and strong romantic lyricism. Of course the style of orchestration is different but it is worth to remember there was at least a 22 year gap between them. The economics of artistic meanings and methods of creating again are the same, making these works even closer than it can be expected. Both were composed with supervision of violin virtuosi. First was consulted with Ferdinand David, concertmaster of Gewandhausorchester in Leipzig who was also premiered the work. Second is connected with celebrated 19th century violinist Joseph Joachim who was serving with advice for Bruch and performed it as first. Max Bruch and Felix Mendelssohn, both where versatile composers with clear romantic attitude and classical discipline. From the immense wealth of recordings featuring these concertos one of the more obvious is the album released by DGG in 1981 (2531 304) with Israeli virtuoso Shlomo Mintz and Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by Claudio Abbado.

Shlomo Mintz / Claudio Abbado - Violinkonzerte (1981)

The great feature of this recording is excellent cooperation between soloist, conductor and orchestra. Confidence and mutual understanding between artists flourished with perfect balance of solo violin and orchestral parts. Mintz plays freely and lightly, with deep, saturated sound. Abbado is able to bring out the most subtle dynamic and articulation nuances. Chicago Symphony Orchestra, one of top class symphonic bands, gave here phenomenal performance. Orchestra plays with virtuoso perfection and with marvelous sound that is class for itself. Artists recorded more in forcomming years, three years later in 1984 Shlomo Mintz with Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Claudio Abbado recorded phenomenal renditions of both Violin Concertos by Serge Prokofiev.
This session was second time Abbado made recording of Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto – for the first time he recorded this composition in 1973 with Nathan Milstein and Wiener Philharmoniker. In Bruch’s Concerto Abbado’s work is astonishing. Traditional renditions are more dramatic while Abbado’s idea leads rather to expressive emotionalism of more comprehensive musical rethorics. Sometimes he is very close to the ridge of overreaction but he is justified because thirty years after recording the sound and expression are still as fresh as they could be performed now. And this is amazing how much capacity found conductor for this emotions in Bruch’s and Mendelssohn’s classically balanced works. It was also the time of his great renditions of Mahler’s Symphonies with Chicago Symphony Orchestra, with which he was recorded every year since 1978 and where in 1982 he became the principal guest conductor.
Shlomo Mintz’s performances are unbelieveably melodious. This compositions are enough melodically rich they do not need much more than clear sound and accurate performance. But Shlomo Mintz playing one of most beautiful sound ever, gave here samples of genuine sublimity and spirituality. His phrasing, his steady melody drawing gives listener feeling of strongest and the most common emotions. The question is how artist can be so mature in manifestation of his emotions when he is still so young. And this in fact does not refer solely to the performer. Mendelssohn started writing this Concerto when he was 29 years old. Max Bruch was 28 when composed his Violin Concerto No. 1. Maybe this is prerogative of romantic music or maybe we should redefine criteria of maturity, but it’s meaningful how often age has nothing to do with human powers.

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