This week I am focusing on the recordings of the Violin Concerto of Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847), conceived in 1838 and completed and first performed by the composer’s concertmaster, Ferdinand David, of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, where Mendelssohn was music director from 1835 to 1847. David also proved invaluable with his advice on many aspects of scoring.
The Concerto has been performed and recorded innumerable times. This week, I would like to briefly comment on recordings that have given much pleasure over the decades and particularly emphasize the work’s rich catalog of different individual violinists who have their own styles, yet have conveyed the beauties of the Concerto itself.
Several historic recordings are worth searching out. Fritz Kreisler recorded a Victor 78 set back in the ‘30s, with the very competent Sir Landon Ronald, that was warmly expressive in its aristocratic framework. During the same decade, Joseph Szigeti gave a reading with the most exquisite bowing and phrasing, with Sir Thomas Beecham’s elegant, vibrant conducting of his own carefully formed and meticulously rehearsed London Philharmonic, then at its peak as possibly the finest recording orchestra in the world and creating a catalog of pristine Columbia
Mischa Elman did an RCA Victor album in the mid-’40s with the Chicago Symphony, under the Belgian conductor, Desire Defauw, in a style best described as that of tasteful reserve and nicely matching Defauw’s own interpretive worldview . Within a couple of years, Beecham’s elegant, vibrant conducting, provided for Szigeti more than ten years earlier, would rev up his recording with the then newly-formed Royal Philharmonic into a riveting collaboration with the dashing Jascha Heifetz, also an RCA Victor release.
To be continued next week!
Responsible journalism is hard work!
It is also expensive!
If you enjoy reading The Town Line and the good news we bring you each week, would you consider a donation to help us continue the work we’re doing?
The Town Line is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit private foundation, and all donations are tax deductible under the Internal Revenue Service code.
To help, please visit our online donation page or mail a check payable to The Town Line, PO Box 89, South China, ME 04358. Your contribution is appreciated!
- REVIEW POTPOURRI – Writer: George Meredith
- REVIEW POTPOURRI: Rudy Vallee
- REVIEW POTPOURRI: The Bronte sisters poetry
- REVIEW POTPOURRI: Lee Marvin
- REVIEW POTPOURRI: Dame Cleo Laine & Nat King Cole
- REVIEW POTPOURRI: Beethoven’s 4th Piano Concerto in G Major
- REVIEW POTPOURRI: Poet Isaac McLellan
- REVIEW POTPOURRI — Composer: Pietro Mascagni; TV: Perry Mason; Singer: Neil Sedaka
- REVIEW POTPOURRI: Romanian Christmas Carols
- REVIEW POTPOURRI: Christmas classics