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.
The King's Consort was founded at Cambridge University in England by Robert King, at the time a 20-year-old student. At first, the King's Consort consisted only of a small choir and band, but its concerts attracted such acclaim and positive critical notices that by 1982, King was able to establish the Consort as a full-time professional orchestral ensemble based out of London.
Jennifer Pike, who won the BBC Young Musician of the Year competition at the tender age of 12, appears to have survived the perils of prodigyhood and entered her early twenties with musical intelligence intact. Here she offers a terrific program of music from the middle of the 19th century; all of it is abstract, but it brings vividly to mind the crucial trio of creative figures who met in the early 1850s: the ailing Robert Schumann, his musically frustrated wife Clara, and the young Johannes Brahms, mooning over the latter.
Il a d’abord été un fils, soucieux de briller aux yeux de son puissant père, l’Ambassadeur. Il fut aussi un frère, qui dédia la première partie de sa vie à la carrière de l’aîné adoré, « Jack ». Mais Robert Kennedy fut surtout un politique atypique, dernier espoir d’une génération traumatisée par les morts de JFK et Martin Luther King. …