Recordings of Felix Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64, are abundant, and even the pairing with the rarer Robert Schumann Violin Concerto, WoO 23, of 1853 are not as infrequent as they used to be. The thorny Schumann concerto has undergone a reevaluation upward, and plenty of players now concur with the judgment of Yehudi Menuhin: "This concerto is the historically missing link of the violin literature; it is the bridge between the Beethoven and the Brahms concertos, though leaning more towards Brahms." Violinist Carolin Widmann who (like the ECM label on which the album appears) has focused mostly on contemporary music, takes up the challenge of providing something new here, and she meets it. The central fact of the recording is that Widmann conducts the Chamber Orchestra of Europe from the violin. Others have done this before, but few have pursued the implications of the technique as far as Widmann has: the performances are unusually light and transparent, and they are perhaps thus in accord with the sounds an orchestra of the middle 19th century might have produced. Sample the unusually lively, sprightly reading of the Mendelssohn concerto's finale.
Hermann Goetz's lifespan was no longer than Mozart's, and though much admired by contemporaries, as a tragic genius his music became almost forgotten, and the domain of but a few connoisseurs such as Gustav Mahler. Goetz's style remained closer to schumann and Mendelssohn, preferring lyricism and clarity to the more radical approaches of Liszt and Wagner. The virtuoso First Piano Concerto was a student work, its lovely central adagio sharing a use of colorful wind parts with the freshly optimistic Second Piano Concerto composed six years later.
Composer portrait of Jörg Widmann (b 1973 in Munich) with two major orchestral works bridged by Fünf Bruchstücke for clarinet and piano. The Messe was composed in 2006, Elegie in 2005 while the Bruchstücke are amongst Widmann’s earliest published pieces, composed in 1997. On the Bruchstücke he is joined by another great composer/performer, Heinz Holliger, heard here in a recording debut as pianist. Widmann’s astonishingly agile clarinet dominates the Elegie with a range of expression embracing trills, multiphonics and microtones. Christoph Poppen directs the Deutsche Radio Philharmonie with customary élan.