Key Points:

Mendelssohn is composer of the week on Radio New Zealand Concert and every day the network plays a selection of music by this much-maligned Romantic.

British violinist Daniel Hope feels a certain kinship with the composer. He is descended from Mendelssohn's teacher and proud to have arranged the three lieder that conclude his new Deutsche Grammophon album. A Witches' Song may be demure by Berlioz's standards, but Hope rustles up a storm with pianist Sebastian Knauer.

Suleika was a favourite of Hope's great-great-grandfather - the words of Goethe's original poem were inscribed on the old man's photograph - and it is played with the immediacy of a Jewish folksong. The hackneyed On Wings of Song is as fresh as a new song.

To many, these little gems will be fillers. The drawcard for most must be Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto, here in its original version. And the changes come thick and fast, from the very opening bars when we are dealing with an Allegro that is con fuoco rather than molto appassionato.

Flames flicker and even come close to raging. Hope and the musicians of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe hold nothing back.

There is so much to savour here, such as the marvellous rushes to climaxes in the first movement, with Hope immaculately shadowed by the orchestra. The breath is quite taken away although, a few minutes later, there is barely time for breath in the exultant finale.

Hope then moves from the concerto arena to that of chamber music. The octet is one of Mendelsson's loveliest works, written when he was 16. Here is all the impetuosity of youth in its hesitations and surges of emotion.

Hope and his players catch the sweet simplicity of its Andante, written in a style that would become arrant sentimentality in later Mendelssohn works. The Scherzo, one of Mendelssohn's swiftest and sleekest, is a gossamer delight.

This first-rate Deutsche Grammophon recording is Mendelssohn to cherish.