Mendelssohn: Piano Concertos; Capriccio Brillant

Lars Vogt / Orchestre de Chambre de Paris

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Mendelssohn: Piano Concertos; Capriccio Brillant Review

by James Manheim

For pianists to conduct concertos from the keyboard is not uncommon, but for a conductor to be hired on that basis is more unusual. Thus a certain interest attends this recording by Lars Vogt, with the Orchestre de Chambre de Paris, where he has become permanent conductor. The early indications are very, very good. Vogt sculpts distinctive readings of Mendelssohn's two piano concertos. These works have never been considered to be at the pinnacle of the 19th century concerto repertory, but in Vogt's hands, they make a strong bid for a climb to that point. The Piano Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Op. 25, is especially good. Vogt takes it at a quick clip with very high energy in the outer movements, seemingly urging the orchestra along and then racing ahead. He even sacrifices some of the usual calm in the first movement's second subject, leaving real repose to the slow movement. The two slow movements show him fully capable of lyricism; he says he considers them piano-and-orchestra "Songs Without Words" and delivers tuneful readings accordingly. The Piano Concerto No. 2 in D minor, Op. 40, is not quite as striking as the First. This dramatic work fits a bit less well with Vogt's approach, but it's certainly an exciting performance. The final Capriccio brillant, Op. 22, not so often played, also works very well as Vogt sharply differentiates its sections and keeps the whole structure moving. With the Ondine label providing fine sound from the Philharmonie de Paris, this is an unusually good Mendelssohn release.

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