MENDELSSOHN Violin Concerto (Siranossian)
Chouchane Siranossian and Anima Eterna present not the familiar versions of these two evergreen masterpieces but instead go back to the original versions. That means a solo line in the concerto with occasional departures from the one we know and some rather radical (and wonderful) extra music in the Octet, most ear-catchingly in the first movement. Matters of 19th-century performance practice come into play too, with straighter tone – vibrato used as shading rather than colour – and, most noticeably, a greater reliance on portamento.
Isabelle Faust took a similar approach in her recording of the concerto and Siranossian’s compares well with that earlier disc. One may even prefer the sound of the new version: slightly more closely miked with a keener focus on the violin which, in Faust’s case, sounded a touch more spindly than here. The orchestra, too, sound excellent in this live performance – so much so that, in the best way possible, you realise that you have barely noticed them.
Siranossian takes the lead in the magnificent Octet of Mendelssohn’s teenage years, possibly to the extent of being rather more than primus inter pares, her individual voice and style clearly in the spotlight as compared with her chamber companions. The Eroica Quartet and friends took on this early version of the Octet to launch the Resonus label in 2011 in download-only format, so it is a worthwhile exercise making Octet Mk I available on disc.
Does the portamento become something of an issue? On first hearing, it may make one a little seasick but the ear soon adjusts, so closely woven is the style into the character of the music and this particular player. All the same, there’s a reason we don’t (usually) do it this way any more. Gone, for example, is the cut-crystal accuracy of the concerto’s finale, in favour of a rather more ‘skaty’ approach to its filigree. But the music’s sheer élan is barely compromised, making this a vividly enjoyable presentation.