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Mendelssohn: Double Concerto, Piano Concerto / Bezuidenhout, von der Goltz

Mendelssohn / Bezuidenhout / Von Der Goltz
Release Date: 08/09/2011 
Label:  Harmonia Mundi   Catalog #: 902082   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Felix Mendelssohn
Performer:  Kristian BezuidenhoutGottfried Von der Goltz
Conductor:  Gottfried Von der Goltz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Freiburg Baroque Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

MENDELSSOHN Piano Concerto in a. Double Concerto for Piano, Violin, and Orchestra Kristian Bezuidenhout (fp); Gottfried von der Goltz (vn, cond); Freiburg Baroque O HARMONIA MUNDI 902082 (71:40)

At the ripe old age of 13 Felix Mendelssohn wrote the first composition on the current recital, the Concerto in A Minor for Piano and Strings, specifically for his older sister Fanny. Though the influences of his youth can clearly be heard here as in many of his early works—Weber, Mozart, and Hummel most notably in Read more this example; Bach, Handel, and Beethoven in others—the most remarkable aspect of the piece is that Mendelssohn’s own voice shines through. This is clearly the composer’s music in development, but his music nonetheless. In contrast, the Concerto for Piano and Violin, written just one year later, in 1823, was premiered by the composer himself along with his good friend the violinist Eduard Rietz (1802–32). Stylistically Mendelssohn was making headway and liked this second concerto well enough to revise the original accompanying forces of just strings, adding both winds and timpani in the newly written-out score.

Though these are early works, they are written with virtuosos in mind. Kristian Bezuidenhout, a young South African pianist born in 1979, has studied with an impressive list of musicians from Arthur Haas (harpsichord) and Malcolm Bilson (fortepiano) to Paul O’Dette (continuo and performance practice). He brings with him not only a formidable technique, but very fine taste and musicality as well. His tempos are always upbeat in the faster sections, where his runs and arpeggios are crystal-clear and his articulation crisp. He never loses sight of the lyrical nature of the composer, however, and his slow movements contain some very fine nuanced aspects. His tempos are always spot-on: His playing never suffers from being too slow in the adagios (Mendelssohn was the first to say that a slow movement was always better being performed too fast than too slow), nor too fast in the allegros. Though I am not personally enamored of the fortepiano as an instrument, the copy of the Conrad Graf 1824, built by Rodney Regier in 1989, which Bezuidenhout plays here has quite a lovely sound: light and bouncy, yet able to sustain melodies well in the treble and articulated with an almost timpani-like reverberation in the bass. Bezuidenhout’s partner in the Double Concerto, violinist Gottfried von der Goltz, has a crisp sound in the passagework, a sweetness and roundedness in the more lyrical sections. In general his playing matches the piano well. In addition, the two musicians play off of each other nicely, handing the thematic material back and forth through much of the composition. More importantly, they breathe well together, investing those moments especially when the orchestra does not play with a true feeling of chamber music. The Freiburg Baroque Orchestra provides very fine accompaniment throughout, often sounding as though it is excited to be playing this music. In turn, this makes the listener excited to be listening.

With performances of this caliber, along with some very fine sound engineering done by the staff at Harmonia Mundi, this is one not to miss—especially if you, just like I am, are more accustomed to hearing this music performed by modern ensembles. This is one of those period-instrument recordings that is so focused on bringing the music to life that you will soon forget whether the piano comes before the forte or after it. Grab it and enjoy!

FANFARE: Scott Noriega
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Works on This Recording

Concerto for Piano in A minor by Felix Mendelssohn
Performer:  Kristian Bezuidenhout (Piano)
Conductor:  Gottfried Von der Goltz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Freiburg Baroque Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1822; Germany 
Concerto for Piano and Violin in D minor by Felix Mendelssohn
Performer:  Kristian Bezuidenhout (Piano), Gottfried Von der Goltz (Violin)
Conductor:  Gottfried Von der Goltz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Freiburg Baroque Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1823; Germany 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Mendelshon at his best December 4, 2012 By M. Hereish (Chandler, QC) See All My Reviews "Very nice recording, love it" Report Abuse
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