...there's a lightness, a crystalline sparkle and sheer zest about these performances...
John Armstrong 2002-11-20
Sometimes you'd think 'that violin concerto' was the only concerto Mendelssohn wrote - or at least the only decent one. Yet the two piano concertos have charms in abundance, winning melodies, and plenty of glittering passagework, even though Mendelssohn was never going to embrace the dramatic showmanship of the new school of Liszt.
In fact Liszt himself played Mendelssohn's brand new First Piano Concerto, sight-reading the far-from legible manuscript in the Erard piano showrooms in Paris, much to Mendelssohn's amazement. He was no mean pianist himself, of course, as plenty of contemporaries tell us...and what one of them admired was Mendelssohn's 'adroitness, sureness, strength, fluency, and tone.'
Thibaudet has all of these things, and ok, the tone's bound to be different on today's concert grands, but there's a lightness, a crystalline sparkle and sheer zest about these performances that makes them bubble like chilled champagne.
Chilled? Well, emotionally Thibaudet's on the cool side, so if you want your Mendelssohn romanticised maybe you should look elsewhere, but Blomstedt and the Leipzig orchestra bring warmth and assurance to the works, and nothing is over-heated, everything is just so.
If you're not sure about the works or performance, just test the opening of the first concerto; if it doesn't sweep you up with its exhilarating introduction, then you needn't bother...but after Thibaudet's disappointing Grieg Concerto with Gergiev and co, this is a welcome return to form.
Andrew McGregor - presenter of CD Review on Radio 3