Berlin Classics Basics 0185512BC, 68:35 (Distrib. Albany) ****:
“Authentic” Mendelssohn when you think about it, given the orchestra is the composer’s very own ensemble, here recorded 1957 (Scotch Symphony) and 1958 (Concerto). The art of Franz Konwitschny (1901-1962) has enjoyed a modest renaissance through the CD medium, a romantic, slightly heavy style that often plays more like Schumann than the demure, effete Mendelssohn; but the strings and tympani waft lovingly through the North Country of the symphony. The storm section of the first movement enjoys a power that salutes both Beethoven and Weber. The highlands shimmer with national; heraldry in the Vivace non troppo, the tripping figures and woodwind colloquys pointing no less to Shakespeare‚s Midsummer Night’s Dream. Some visceral ferocity an passion in the Adagio make the performance worth seeking, especially for the bass line textures and breadth of line, quite reminiscent at times of the classic Otto Klemperer inscription. Nice flute work throughout. The martial chants that open the last movement threaten and dance their way to the Allegro maestoso assai, a magisterial song rife with elegant colors from the Gewandhaus Orchestra.
I first acknowledged the individual power of violinist Igor Oistrakh (b. 1931) as more than a mere clone of his illustrious father when I auditioned his performance of the Prokofiev D Major Concerto under Rozhdestvensky that appeared for a short time on the Music & Arts label. A hard-driven Allegro molto appassionata yields to sugary fire and a fierce cadenza. A terrific tension brings the last stretti that flow into the haunted Andante. Strong tympani four-beat work to accompany Oistrakh’s trilled scales. Solid trumpet, flute, and woodwind work to weave itself around the violin’s deft moto perpetuo last movement, shades again of fairy music. No liner notes of any kind grace this no-frills packaging, but the music speaks for itself.
— Gary Lemco