Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto, Symphony No. 3 - Swensen
Linn Records CKD 216
Classical - Orchestral
Mendelssohn: Hebrides Overture, Violin Concerto in E minor, Symphony No. 3 in A minor "Scottish"
Scottish Chamber Orchestra
Joseph Swensen (conductor)
This beautiful recording features of some of Mendelssohn's loveliest music.
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Review by John Broggio - December 17, 2007
This is a strange disc, with an orchestral conception that is wonderfully taut, light and vivacious whilst retaining the longer line and soulful elements that are woven into the music. This gives us delightful accounts of both the "Hebrides" overture and the "Scottish" symphony which leave the listener completely sated. The playing (ably abetted by Linn's superb recording) reveals much that the ear can usually only seek out by having a score and/or a period instrument performance and is thoroughly convincing with a lack of (bad) mannerisms that firmly place the spotlight, as any performance should, on the music itself. A great deal of credit must also go to Joseph Swensen for his sensitive directions on the podium.
When Swensen takes up his fiddle though, a different picture emerges. For while the orchestra are still fantastically well coordinated with the same glowing but lean textures, Swensen's account of the solo part is harking back to another age altogether. Even relatively big-boned, heart-on-sleeve Romantic accounts on Mendelssohn, Bruch: Violin Concertos - Midori owe little to the style of violin playing that Swensen exhibits, much less the ice cool line on Beethoven / Mendelssohn: Violin Concertos - Mullova / Gardiner. Indeed, Swensen seems to adopt the HIP school for the orchestra, the Kriesler for the violin and then promptly fails to marry the two.
A great shame really because the recording faithfully reveals many inner details and the loving playing of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, who deliver very enjoyable accounts of the overture and the symphony (of which there unaccountably few versions on the market). If you want these works, then I thoroughly recommend the disc but warn that you might the remote to skip past the concerto...
Copyright © 2007 John Broggio and HRAudio.net