Tianwa Yang’s Smart Mendelssohn Program

Review by: David Hurwitz

Artistic Quality: 9

Sound Quality: 9

Young violinist Tianwa Yang has exceptional technique, and her vision in the great E minor concerto is unfailingly intelligent. The first movement is taken a touch on the slow side, giving the music added weight and seriousness. In the finale, too, Yang refuses to rush or indulge in empty showmanship, while the Andante’s singing melodies do just that. If there is any down side to her interpretation, it is this: older, wiser violinists such as Nathan Milstein shape the many moments of passagework to more purposeful effect, just as a masterful singer understands that coloratura expresses virtuosity but also can be phrased and articulated so as to heighten the emotion and intensity of the phrase. Yang isn’t quite in that league yet, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with the playing as such. The accompaniments, similarly, won’t compare to the best versions featuring major orchestras, but they offer distinguished contributions nonetheless.

What makes this disc such a smart one, though, is the inclusion of the youthful D minor concerto and the F minor violin sonata. Most Mendelssohn discs couple another major violin concerto (usually Bruch’s or Tchaikovsky’s), and God knows we don’t need another recording of those works any more than we need another Mendelssohn E minor concerto. Both youthful works are vintage early Mendelssohn, and he was not a composer who invariably got better with age. Yang plays them very well indeed, and there’s far less competition here than in the more famous companion pieces. Pianist Romain Descharmes accompanies very sympathetically, and both in the concertos and the sonata the engineering is very clean and well-balanced. In sum, the couplings make this disc worth acquiring even if you’d never think of buying another version of the E minor concerto. As for Yang, she remains an artist to watch.



Buy Now from Arkiv Music

Recording Details:

Reference Recording: Concerto in E minor: Milstein (DG)

  • MENDELSSOHN, FELIX:
    Violin Concerto in E minor; Violin Concerto in D minor; Violin Sonata in F minor

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