The young Mendelssohn's imaginative energy and technical skill are dazzling, especially when played with the exuberance of the present performance.
Ronald Thomas's performance of Mendelssohn's youthful Violin Concerto in D minor on Chandos is coupled with one of the early string symphonies (No. 9 in C major); Frank Peter Zimmermann's on EMI is coupled with the much more famous E minor Violin Concerto. Neither version is really recommendable above the new issue: Gidon Kremer gives a fresher, more assured, lighter account of the D minor Concerto than either of the other two, and Zimmermann is, of course, up against a very large number of versions of the E minor Concerto, to several of which most listeners would giveRead more preference.
The new coupling is of another interesting work of Mendelssohn's astonishing youth. The score is dated May 6th, 1823, when he was 14 and its precocity shows in various ways. There are the expected influences. In the opening movement, the running counterpoint at the start suggests Mendelssohn's well-learnt lessons from old Zeller (who within the year made his famous declaration welcoming the boy into the brotherhood of Bach, Mozart and Haydn). The Adagio has a note of Weber, as does the 'brilliant' finale, though here the pace and dexterity are more vividly in the manner Mendelssohn was already making his own. The precocity also shows in the work's length: he had not yet learnt to temper the abundance of his imagination, and both outer movements are a little long for themselves (they are played here without the cuts sometimes adopted on the work's rare outings). But the imaginative energy and the technical skill are dazzling, and especially when played with the exuberance of the present performance, the piece is enormously enjoyable.
The recording is quite close, and deals skilfully with the problems of balance between the two soloists on the rare occasions when they have not already been brilliantly solved by Mendelssohn.