SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews

FERDINAND DAVID: Salon-Duett; Suite; 12 Salon Pieces; 3 Impromptus – Stephan Schardt, violin/ Philipp Vogler, p. – MD&G

Mendelssohn’s great friend and champion in some intimate chamber pieces of his own.

Published on March 8, 2013

FERDINAND DAVID: Salon-Duett; Suite; 12 Salon Pieces; 3 Impromptus – Stephan Schardt, violin/ Philipp Vogler, p. – MD&G

FERDINAND DAVID: Salon-Duett, Op. 25; Suite, Op. 43; 12 Salon Pieces, Op. 24; 3 Impromptus in Waltz Form – Stephan Schardt, violin/ Philipp Vogler, piano – MD&G multichannel SACD (2+2+2) 903 1774-6, 76:00 [Distr. by E1) ***1/2:

It was at the age of 15, after David had completed studies with Ludwig Spohr, that he met the one-year-older Mendelssohn on a concert tour. It was a fortuitous meeting that had lasting consequences for both musicians. By 1835 Mendelssohn had become conductor of the famous Gewandhaus Orchestra, and a year later appointed the 25-year-old David as concertmaster. David held on to this position for another 37 years until his death, and the son of a Hamburg merchant could rest easy on a career that included education, concert performances, and probably least, composition. He was greatly influenced by Mendelssohn, and though competent, lacked true genius when it came to the composer’s art.

When Mendelssohn died David lost his inspiration, and the other composers in his circle, including Schumann, drifted away as well. Though he did finish over 50 opus numbers, including five violin concertos and a host of other pieces for varied ensembles, even the accusations about anti-Jewish sentiment that surfaced at the time of Mendelssohn’s death cannot account alone for the demise in the popularity of his work. As good as some of the pieces are, and all are in the style of Felix, they simply don’t hold their own when compared to the master. This does not mean they should be abandoned, far from it; but some works are much more interesting than the others.

This album offers, unfortunately, some of the less interesting works. Each has a strong whiff of the parlor, and even though Mendelssohn trod through this field as well he always brought something extra that separated him from the rest of the pack. Even some of the titles betray this concentration, though it must be admitted that as salon pieces they are of exceptional quality. David’s music simply didn’t have enough punch or time to succeed; the romantic era blew past like a whirlwind, and the Mendelssohnian lightness and grace-filled atmosphere was soon to get trampled by the heavier and more substantial fare that would come towards the end of the 19th century.

A word should be said about the Op. 43 Suite for solo violin. Few such things existed at the time, and so it is interesting to see how David treats the instrument within his own genre. This is easily the best work on the disc, and of much value. Performances are excellent, with nicely captured surround sound.

—Steven Ritter




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