After the mystical ‘Hebrides’ Overture and the masterly ‘Reformation’ Symphony, Mendelssohn embarked on his second violin concerto. After a long gestation in which he polished the orchestration and meticulously revised the solo part, the work was finally premiered in Leipzig in 1845. From David to Joachim, virtuosos honed the violin part with the composer over successive revivals, leaving to posterity traces of their playing style: fingering, bowing and score markings. This precious heritage has been scrutinised by Isabelle, as she did for her Brahms Violin Concerto recording, as a previously unexploited expressive resource. Isabelle Faust, accompanied by the Freiburger Barockorchester, in top form, under the direction of Pablo Heras-Casado, offers us a miracle of purity and lyricism in a freshly-minted interpretation that fulfils Mendelssohn’s promise of ‘a concerto to make the angels rejoice in heaven’!
Presto Recordings of the Year, Finalist 2017
International release: 25 August 2017
“The Symphony No 5, the “Reformation”, labours over its Lutheran connections, but a performance as ardent as this one by the Freiburger Barockorchester under Pablo Heras-Casado has something of an evangelist’s fiery rhetoric.”
“Isabelle Faust, accompanied by the Freiburger Barockorchester, in top form, under the direction of Pablo Heras-Casado, offers us a miracle of purity and lyricism in a freshly-minted interpretation that fulfils Mendelssohn’s promise of a concerto to make the angels rejoice in heaven!”
“Heras-Casado conducts a refreshingly transparent account of the Hebrides Overture in which you can almost feel the sea spray, and an exhilarating, ultimately jubilant performance of the Reformation Symphony, all high-church veneer stripped away.”
“…the fresh thinking extends fully to the orchestral contribution of the Freiburger Barockorchester under Spanish conductor Pablo Heras-Casado.”
“The striking cover says it all. There’s no avoiding the piercing eyes of conductor Pablo Heras-Casado and violinist Isabelle Faust, challenging us to experience their revelatory take on one of the world’s most popular violin concertos.
The Hebrides Overture has its surprises, too. If Wagner was correct in hailing it as a masterpiece of landscape painting, then here it has undergone a major restoration where the musical palette shines anew. Check out that marvellous moment when time itself seems to pause, as the clarinets luxuriate in one of the composer’s most beguiling melodies.
The Reformation Symphony is far from first-rank Mendelssohn and only a very simpatico performance can illuminate these too often uninspired pages.
Freiburger Barockorchester achieves wonders with an impossible task, from the organ-like swell of its launching to an innocent Allegro vivace that might be looking wistfully over the Alps to sunny Italy.”