MENDELSSOHN: Concertos for Two Pianos in A Flat Major and E Major (Benjamin Frith/ Hugh Tinney/ Paul Myers/ Proinnsias O Duinn/ RTE Sinfonietta) (Naxos: 8.553416)
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Don't be fooled by the back inlay to this disc, which simply lists the two works as the Piano Concerto in A Flat and the Piano Concerto in E Major. Both are, as the general title of the album would suggest, Concertos for Two Pianos.
Mendelssohn was just thirteen when the family set out on a long trip to Switzerland, which over the next two years was to produce four more string symphonies, a violin sonata, a piano quintet, the early C Minor Symphony, a double concerto for violin and piano and the two concertos for two pianos included on this disc. Even the precocious young Mozart could not quite match at this early stage, the sophistication that Mendelssohn brought to his music.
The two concertos were probably written with his sister and himself in mind, and certainly they gave the first private performance of the E Major Concerto at one of the Sunday concerts in the Mendelssohn house in Berlin.
They are sparkling works full of youthful vivacity, thought even by this stage the young man knew how to bring the darker colours into music to give good contrast in the slow movements.
This recording is part of the piano music series being recorded by Benjamin Frith, already completed are the solo piano works (with the exception of the Songs Without Words) and the Piano Concertos, and for release later this year will be the Concerto for Violin and Piano. Frith himself was an infant prodigy winning, at the age of fourteen, the British National Concerto Competition.
He is joined by the Irish pianist Hugh Tinney, who shot to international prominence as a prizewinner in the 1987 Leeds International Piano Competition. Since then he has played with all of the major orchestras in Great Britain, and has toured extensively abroad.
They are accompanied by the RTE Sinfonietta, the enlarged version of the RTE Concert Orchestra used for symphonic recordings.
The recording was made in the National Concert Hall, Dublin, in October 1995.