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Mendelssohn Violin Concerto - Audiophile Audition

04 November 2002
Audiophile Audition
Laurence Vittes

This exceptionally beautiful new release of some of Mendelssohn's loveliest music, recorded in the Usher Hall, Edinburgh, combines state-of-the-art HDCD sound with playing of unusual grace. It underlines Linn's commitment to audiophile standards that are as musical as they are stunning, and made me curious all over again about their loudspeakers and electronics.

Whether conducting or playing the solo violin, Swensen has patience and lovely sense of line and phrasing that brings out the nobility in Mendelssohn without the slightest hint of sad or droopy. The Hebrides Overture is a miracle that unfolds with understated cumulative power, one of the great performances on record. Swensen's playing in the Violin Concerto has an unusually sexy swing to it. And while Swensen's Scottish may fall just slightly short of the greatest performances by Peter Maag (with the London Symphony on Decca) and Leonard Bernstein (with the Israel Philharmonic on DG), it has a unique radiant grandeur about it.

The superb Scottish Chamber Orchestra, well known for its many recordings under Charles Mackerras for both Hyperion and Telarc, also makes a strong showing. Its strings are supple and silky, its woodwinds, led by clarinetist Maximiliano Martin, are eloquent and full-bodied, and its brass are more elegant than brass have a right to be.

Of course, the sound Linn's production team have provided is a large part of the CD's success. Seemingly laid back, it contains reservoirs of power and detail which become increasingly telling and, although the sound is admirably smooth, it hints at the rough edges that only truly natural recordings possess.

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Related Links

Scottish Chamber OrchestraScottish Chamber Orchestra
Mendelssohn Violin ConcertoMendelssohn Violin Concerto
Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto No. 2 & 'Scottish' SymphonyMendelssohn: Violin Concerto No. 2 & 'Scottish' Symphony