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CD Review

Felix Mendelssohn

ReDiscovery 72

Overtures

  • Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage
  • Fingal's Cave
  • The Fair Melusina
  • Ruy Blas
  • Double Concerto for Violin, Piano & Strings in D minor
Eugene List, piano
Carroll Glenn, violin
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Adrian Boult
Vienna Chamber Orchestra/Ernst Maerzendorfer
ReDiscovery RD072 ADD monaural/stereo 77:04

In Third Ear's Classical Music: The Listener's Companion (Backbeat Books), reviewer Timothy Lovelace writes, "This [concerto] would be remarkable for a composer of any age, but Mendelssohn was 14 when he wrote it. [Carroll] Glenn and [Eugene] List unearthed it in 1964, and we await a CD transfer of their exciting performance." Lovelace and others need wait no longer, because here it is. The old Westminster LP has been digitally remastered with loving care by David Gideon, and released on his interesting ReDiscovery label.

The Double Concerto has been recorded several times since then, most notably by Martha Argerich and Gidon Kremer. Glenn and List are understandably a collector's favorite, however. They play it with the enthusiasm of pioneers coming upon uncharted and unclaimed land. List, who specialized in frilly Romantic repertoire, is in his element here, tossing off Mendelssohn's taradiddles with grace and charm. His wife's playing isn't quite on his level, but this is affectionate musicianship, and the interplay between the soloists is fun. Maerzendorfer and the Vienna Chamber Orchestra offer dependable support. The young Mendelssohn gave even less for the orchestra to do in this score than Chopin did in his two concertos, however. The stereo sound has held up well, only hardening up a little in the climaxes.

Boult's plain-spoken, sympathetic readings of the four overtures are a bonus. Here he is conducting the Beecham-era RPO, and the results are reminiscent of Sir Thomas's work. Monaural sound doesn't put a damper on the engineering, which remains impressive, particularly in terms of its frequency range.

This CD may be purchased from the ReDiscovery website, www.rediscovery.us, for $15, and that includes shipping and handling. Production values are basic. These are blank-label CDRs; the catalog number has been handwritten near the disc's center hole. There's a cover page with artwork, and no booklet, per se, but there is an inlay card with track listings and a few brief paragraphs of notes concerning the performance and the recordings. These releases might get even the most hardened vinylphile to surrender his treasured LPs.

Copyright © 2004, Raymond Tuttle

Trumpet