This CD conveniently provides my `building a collection' versions of both Beethoven's Violin Concerto in D Major and Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto in E Minor. It is a must too for any collection of Viktoria Mullova's recorded works.
The order on the CD is Beethoven first, then Mendelssohn, but I often play the Mendelssohn first, the emotional journey provided by the Mullova/Gardner interpretation of Beethoven's D Major Violin Concerto being such that to immediately follow it with anything else is just too much.
The Beethoven opens conventionally enough, with music that is instantly recognisable as stablemate to several of his great symphonies. Mullova first comes in at 3:12, immediately announcing that this is going to be something different and very special. Listening at home (for the umpteenth time, it has to be said), I can usually manage during the opening minutes to continue with some other occupation, so long as it is not seriously demanding mentally. Then Mullova gets to a point, 10:22 into the first movement, where I just have to drop even the most trivial chore and give her my full attention. To do anything else is impossible. Then she has got me, and holds me right through all three movements. Sublime.
The break between the Beethoven and Mendelssohn provides an opportunity to get up and continue with whatever task has been dropped. But to do that is unfair to both player and composer - not to mention the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique and its Director, John Eliot Gardiner - for this too is an inspired performance of a very fine piece of music.
Much praise is due to all the musicians performing here, and all involved in the recording and packaging of the CD as we receive it. To the 16 page booklet (3 languages, English, French and German), music writer, lecturer and broadcaster Richard Wigmore contributes a learned and thoughtful consideration of the two concertos.
If Beethoven, Mendelssohn and/or Mullova are in your line, you are not likely to be disappointed by this CD.
Total running time is 68:14, with the Beethoven coming in at 41:05 and Mendelssohn 27:09.