It is with great pleasure that Keld Ensemble present this pairing of concertos
written by a very young Felix Mendelssohn. It is appropriate that both works
were completed by the age of 13, very nearly 200 years ago.
The piano concerto in the key of a minor, demonstrates how exceptional
Mendelssohn was as a young prodigy, both as a composer and a pianist. The piano
part is difficult but effective, the music well balanced and clear, containing
moments of beauty and excitement, and the work bearing many hallmarks of the
mature composer. Closely following both structure and themes, Mendelssohn
observes the examples of older, contemporary composers, Hummel and Dussek. In
particular, in both the first and last movement finales, Mendelssohn interrupts
the fast flowing momentum with adagio passages, in anticipation of a frenetic
conclusion. For all the virtuosic piano writing, Mendelssohn includes a lively
dialogue with the strings, who are given a strong supporting role, far beyond
the subordinate orchestral scoring for the piano concertos of Chopin.
Initially, the violin concerto, also from 1822, this time in d minor, sets out
in a baroque-style exposition with unison strings, yet the young Mendelssohn
hints at a more classical style to come with adventurous modulations and
searing, captivating violin melodies. The ‘rondo’ finale bristles with energy
from the outset. The character is that of a concerto grosso as Mendelssohn
demands meticulous clarity with the running semiquaver detail, which is achieved
in some style. But don’t just take my word for it. These are the words of Yehudi
Menuhin in 1952, ‘the Concerto in D minor is full of invention and not in any
way inhibited by too-strict traditional concepts. It exhibits a remarkable
freedom and elasticity of form, confirming the incredible genius and
prodigiousness of the 13-year-old master.
Both of these two works were neglected for well over a century and are now
happily restored to the classical repertoire.
Click here to hear excerpts from the Piano Concerto:
Click here to buy for £12.90 incl.