Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto; Brahms: Double Concerto

Itzhak Perlman / Yo-Yo Ma / Daniel Barenboim

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Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto; Brahms: Double Concerto Review

by Mike D. Brownell

Perennial crowd pleasers and listener favorites, the Brahms "Double" Concerto and Mendelssohn Violin Concerto are also popular with record companies for reissues. In the case of the Apex album, performances previously released on the Teldec and Erato labels are brought back for this 2011 release. Both are live performances featuring the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under Daniel Barenboim joined by violinist Itzhak Perlman and cellist Yo-Yo Ma. Perlman's 1993 Mendelssohn plays well to listeners who appreciate Perlman's nimble, dazzling technique. Both outer movements are quite speedy, even for Mendelssohn, but this does not deter Perlman's technical accuracy whatsoever. The sense of urgency and spontaneity that comes with a live performance makes for an especially thrilling Finale. Yo-Yo Ma played the Brahms "Double" with Isaac Stern and the Chicago Symphony some six years before this 1996 live performance was recorded with Perlman. For his part, Ma's playing is virtually identical to the earlier performance: pacing, articulation, and phrasing are all reliably similar. Perlman's playing is, in general, a bit more polished and exacting than Stern's was. The main difference is in the connection between the two soloists. Ma and Stern seemed to have a fluid, organic performance together while Ma and Perlman seem to be somewhat less connected when playing together. Still, this album is a reasonable choice, especially for those just beginning a collection.

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