Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

"Music, both vocall and instrumental, so good, so delectable, so rare, so admirable, so super excellent, that it did even ravish and stupifie all those strangers that never heard the like." - Thomas Coryat, after hearing 3 hours of music at the Scuola di San Rocco in Venice, 1608.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

The beautiful spirit in Mozart and Mendelssohn

The first concerto disc by Danae Dörken is definitely a winner; a strong personality emerges in both of these great works, which is impressive for such a young musician. Lars Vogt and the Royal Northern Sinfonia give strong support, and the Ars Produktion surround sound is outstanding.

The C major concerto K.467 has always been one of my favourites; there's so much vitality and drive here - this is Mozart at the peak of his powers. Dörken and Vogt keep things going at a rolling boil, and their keynote is appropriately dramatic and operatic (the concerto was written in the year before The Marriage of Figaro). Here's an example of their dramatic shading: in the middle of the first movement (just after 6:30), there's a hesitation that reads almost as a full stop. It's a light that shines on a moment of high drama, and the exquisite filigree that follows.

Meanwhile, Daniel Barenboim (just after 7:00, in a much more relaxed version) passes the moment by almost nonchalantly:

There's the same nimble precision in the 2nd Mendelssohn Concerto. Dörken and Vogt are serious when they need to be, but the music is never fraught. Matching it with the Mozart definitely brings out the clean lines and serene mood in Mendelssohn's beautiful piece. In a really interesting discussion between Dörken and Daniel Knaack in the liner notes comes this quote of Schumann on Mendelssohn:
Music is the outflow of a benign spirit, whether it flows in the presence of hundreds or in solitude; but let it always be that beautiful spirit which expresses itself. That is why Mendelssohn's compositions are so irresistible when he plays them himself.... I often think that Mozart must have played like that.
The beautiful spirit is heard loud and clear in this fine recording. I look forward to more projects with these talented musicians!

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