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Concerto for violin, piano and strings in D minor

composer
1823

 
It was in 1823 that Mendelssohn composed the Concerto for violin, piano and strings in D minor. Following the composition of the D minor Violin Concerto and the A minor Piano Concerto composed earlier in 1822 this may have seemed to him like a logical next step (he probably envisaged Rietz and himself as soloists), though there were few earlier examples to which he could have looked as models. He may have had in mind Beethoven’s Triple Concerto for violin, cello, piano and orchestra; he would certainly have known that Mozart began such a work only to abandon it (leaving a tantalizing fragment, K135f anh. 56). Laid out on an altogether larger scale than the D minor Violin Concerto, this Double Concerto is one of Mendelssohn’s most brilliant adolescent works. Superficially the two solo instruments would seem to be almost incompatible, though of course the pianoforte of Mendelssohn’s day was a gentler, lighter beast than today’s concert grand: but he uses them with such resource and knowledge of their respective qualities that there is never a sense of incongruity. They dialogue with one another, they mimic each other, the piano accompanies the violin (and vice versa) and they are also given solo spots of their own.

The piece clocks in at nearly 40 minutes, and every one of them is entrancing. The grand first movement Allegro, a spacious concertante sonata form with double exposition for soli and orchestra and cadenzas for both soloists, takes up more than half the piece and displays precisely that perfect command of form which Mendelssohn seems to have been born with. The Adagio opens with an orchestral introduction setting out the main theme, which is then taken up by the piano, the violin only entering later, after which the orchestra has little to contribute while the two soloists engage in an extended, almost operatic dialogue. The effervescent Allegro molto finale, in sonata form with a pell-mell first and a sweetly lyrical second subject, is an utter delight of post-Mozartian charm and tremendous energy, culminating in a breathtakingly brilliant conclusion.

from notes by Malcolm MacDonald © 2013

Recordings

Mendelssohn: Violin Concertos
Studio Master: SIGCD342Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available

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