Mendelssohn: Symphonies 1-5
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2017 marks the 500th anniversary of the European Reformation, started by Martin Luther in 1517. To honor this occasion, Deutsche Grammophon is releasing a new interpretation of the complete Mendelssohn symphonies, crowned by a recording of the Reformation Symphony No. 5.
The symphonies were recorded in February 2016 during a celebrated Mendelssohn festival over the course of two days at the Philharmonie de Paris - all under the baton of young, exciting conductor, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, the Music Director of the Philadelphia Orchestra and Music Director Designate of the Metropolitan Opera New York.
This release is the first complete symphonic cycle to be recorded at the new Philharmonie de Paris, which opened in January 2015!
For this recording, Christopher Hogwood's editions of the symphonies were chosen because of their particular importance for the Reformation symphony:
Mendelssohn, the often self-critical (and self-revising!) composer, who in the process of trying to reduce the work to a length suitable for its celebratory function, he cut out one entire movement preceding the Finale, a passage that expands on the flute cadenza and prepares the arrival of the chorale theme with more engaging musical drama. (Christopher Hogwood)
The original version of the work may now be listened to in its entirety!
This release underlines a strong ongoing collaboration with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe that already culminated in a successful release of the complete Schumann symphonies (March 2014) and the continuing Mozart Opera Cycle. Two instalments of the latter have been nominated for a Grammy: Le Nozze di Figaro and Die Entführung aus dem Serail.
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As per usual, the short-of-breath Chamber Orchestra of Europe is a reminder that vanilla is the most godless of colours – you won’t find it among de la Tour’s late pigments. Listen to the slow movement of the Reformation: this is music without magic. In any number of instances, YNS pars back on vibrato; no doubt an elephant-stamp will be forthcoming from the Ringwraiths of the Gramophone.
I’d never thought that I would say this, but Abbado’s DG from the early Eighties has more personality to its name, to say nothing of Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic. Choose ye, therefore!