Harmonia Mundi, , Freiburger Barockorchester, Isabelle Faust, Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy
After the mystical 'Hebrides' Overture and the masterly ‘Reformation’ Symphony, Mendelssohn embarked on his second violin concerto. After a long gestation in which he polished the orchestration and meticulously revised the solo part, the work was finally premiered in Leipzig in 1845. From David to Joachim, virtuosos honed the violin part with the composer over successive revivals, leaving to posterity traces of their playing style: fingering, bowing and score markings. This precious heritage has been scrutinised by Isabelle, as she did for her Brahms Violin Concerto recording, as a previously unexploited expressive resource. Isabelle Faust, accompanied by the Freiburger Barockorchester, in top form, under the direction of Pablo Heras-Casado, offers us a miracle of purity and lyricism in a freshly-minted interpretation that fulfils Mendelssohn’s promise of ‘a concerto to make the angels rejoice in heaven’!
“Faust’s research infuses the sound-world of the piece from the very first phrase...Her treatment of the plaintive E minor melody at the opening showcases two of the main stylistic innovations which result from her mining of the archives: very little vibrato, with the sound warmed instead by liberal but judiciously-applied portamento...There’s always the sense that the music’s being well-served rather than short-changed by these choices.” PRESTO Classical.
“[Faust] takes the radical decision to perform the work as scholars now think mid-19th-century violinists would have done: with minimal vibrato, but lots of slides between the notes and very different bowings, making the piece sound far spikier and febrile than the suavely efficient readings one usually hears today. Some may think her tone is too parched; I loved it.” The Times.