The Strad Issue: June 2017
Description: Searching musicianship yields some satisfying answers
Musicians: Lisa Ferschtman (violin), Het Gelders Orkest/Kees Bakels
Catalogue Number: CHALLENGE CLASSICS CC72748
Does the world need another recording of Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto? Liza Ferschtman bravely asks the question herself in the CD booklet, before telling us of her new insights and her desire to share her discoveries. These don’t leap out at you, but this is certainly an attractive performance. She has a focused, silvery tone, and her playing has constant energy.
In the first movement there are moments of real power and drama to balance her elegant lyricism. The second movement flows forwards with a sense of purpose underpinning its beauty, the phrases subtly but firmly shaped, both in the outer sections and in the urgent A minor centre. She dances lightly though the finale. The balance between violin and orchestra is excellent.
The String Octet was recorded live at the 2016 Delft Chamber Music Festival with ‘a star-studded cast of wonderful colleagues and friends’, including three quarters of the Belcea Quartet. The playing is muscular, with the orchestral heft that Mendelssohn requested, but the textures are clear, allowing plenty of detail from the inner parts, and there is meaty support from the two cellists. The great shape of the slow movement is crafted with arching graduations of dynamics and the last two movements are exhilarating.