MENDELLSOHN & GADE: Violin Concertos – Thomas Albertus Irnberger (violin) – Jerusalem Sym. Orch./ Doron Salomon – Gramola multichannel SACD 9905, 51:45 (7/10/15) [Distr. by Naxos] ***1/2:
I can’t think of two more divergent musical views of the romantic than the styles of Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy and Niels Gade. Although they were roughly writing in the same era, Mendelssohn (as he is commonly known) was German, Gade was Danish. The Mendelssohn Violin Concerto, heard here, is one of the most popular concertos in the world, Gade’s works, mostly symphonic, are not nearly as well-known or as popular. The concerto on this disc is Gade’s only violin concerto, but it has much to recommend it.
The Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in E minor was the composer’s last large orchestral work. Mendelssohn worked on the piece for 6 years, and it premiered in 1845. Although it followed the standard concerto form, it was innovative in many ways, including a very early entrance of the violin, not typical of the romantic concertos of the period.
Gade has a connection to Mendelssohn, because the two composers were friends and each had conducted the other’s music. In fact, upon Mendelssohn’s death Gade succeeded him as conductor of the Gewandhaus Orchestra.
The Gade Violin Concerto in D minor is a fine work. While unfamiliar to many listeners, it’s very worthy of an audition. Gade was a violinist himself, and his affinity to the instrument is obvious.
The performances on the disc are excellent, and soloist Thomas Albertus Irnberger has an obvious connection to both works. He plays with precision and deep emotion. The Jerusalem Symphony under the baton of Doron Salomon also serves the music well.
The recording, a 5.1 & 2.0 disc, is in fine form. Recorded at the Henry Crown Auditorium in Jerusalem, it has a nice balance between the orchestra and soloist. The surround channels are used mainly for light ambiance.
While both Mendelssohn and Gade come from different musical places, this is an appropriate pairing, especially because of the relationship of the two composers. Although I’ve head the Mendelssohn numerous times, this new recording is a treat. The Gade is an excellent bonus, and probably the part of the disc I will listen to the most because I am so unfamiliar with the concerto.