Felix Mendelssohn’s concerto is one of the most cherished violin works of all and its brooding majesty and heroic bravura sum up the ideals of the Romantic movement in one effortless package.
But this piece didn’t come easily to the composer, who spent six years capturing the soul of the instrument. From the restless opening to the sparkling high-spirits of the finale, the violin sings and dances. It’s the perfect vehicle for the ‘immaculate and rapturous’ music-making of soloist Augustin Hadelich.
The Italian Symphony is a painted-from-life portrait of Italy made while the young Felix holidayed in Rome. Soaked in brilliant sunlight and overflowing with melody, this symphony is an expression of pure joy. Richard Strauss’s Serenade for a mellow wind ensemble is Mendelssohnian in mood and in prodigious youthfulness (he was 17).