This 2017 Challenge Classics release presents two popular works that practically bookend the career of Felix Mendelssohn, since the String Octet in E flat major, Op. 20 marked one of his earliest successes as a 16-year-old wunderkind, and the Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64 was his last major orchestral work. Yet this hybrid SACD also showcases violinist Liza Ferschtman in two capacities, first as the virtuoso soloist in the Violin Concerto, then as the first violinist in the live performance of the Octet. Ferschtman has played the Violin Concerto since she was 15, so her interpretation as an adult reflects her close familiarity with the score and her attraction to Mendelssohn's music, which has developed and deepened over her career. The exciting performance of the Octet was part of the opening night concert of the 2016 Delft Chamber Music Festival, of which Ferschtman is artistic director, and the joy of playing with her colleagues is apparent in her spirited leadership and their energetic playing. The superb engineering places Ferschtman front and center in the Violin Concerto, while making the accompaniment of the Het Gelders Orkest vibrant and audible, and the string players in the Octet are well-balanced and easily distinguishable in the multichannel recording.
AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Violin Concerto, Op. 64|
|String Octet, Op. 20|