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Mendelssohn: Symphonies Nos. 3 & 4

4.3 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Audio CD, October 25, 1990
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

This coupling of Mendelssohn's two most popular and musically important symphonies has always been one of Solti's better orchestral recordings. Although typically hard-driven, Solti's approach doesn't preclude lightness, and the virtuosity of the orchestra isn't in doubt for a second. Curiously, Mendelssohn himself withheld publication of the Italian Symphony, claiming he wished to revise the work before sending it to the printer. Those revisions have now been recorded (by Gardiner with the Vienna Philharmonic), and they demonstrate that Mendelssohn's first thoughts were best. In any event, this disc can be recommended without hesitation.

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This coupling of Mendelssohn's two most popular and musically important symphonies has always been one of Solti's better orchestral recordings. Although typically hard-driven, Solti's approach doesn't preclude lightness, and the virtuosity of the orchestra isn't in doubt for a second. Curiously, Mendelssohn himself withheld publication of the Italian Symphony, claiming he wished to revise the work before sending it to the printer. Those revisions have now been recorded (by Gardiner with the Vienna Philharmonic), and they demonstrate that Mendelssohn's first thoughts were best. In any event, this disc can be recommended without hesitation. --David Hurwitz
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 25, 1990)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Decca
  • ASIN: B0000041QW
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #220,397 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A. Braid on March 6, 2003
Format: Audio CD
These are top notch-recordings.
Recorded in 1985, after Solti had already been with the CSO for 15 years, the Orchestra is playing in top form under the direction of a world-class maestro at the peak of his career. The Orchestra plays with precision and verve: fast movements like the Italian's first and last movements, and the scherzo of the Scottish are unbelievably crisp without any sacrafice of energy. At the climax in the scerzo of the Scottish, when the orchestra is playing at the loudest, you can still hear every note and every rhythm and thus fully appreciate the genius of Mendelssohn's incredible counterpoint and orchestration skills. You get the feeling that the members of the orchestra are playing on the edge of their seats, something that one hardly hears any more on recordings and a virtue that is often lacking in live performance, even from the best orchestras.
In the slow movements, the Orchestra sustains the lines wonderfully even at soft dynamics and paces the phrasing (crescendos and diminuendos) wonderfully. I must say, however, that the orchestra often seems to be playing on the loud-and-fast side throughout. If I had to put forth a critique, I would say that the recording doesn't ever maintain those mystical soft textures in the quietest and most reserved sections and often is a bit too fleet in the grand tutti sections. The first criticism is more directed at the recording engineering than anything else, as the room sounds quite live, while the second can only be attributed to the conductor.
These are great overall performances; you will not be disappointed. They are performances that are amazingly crisp and full of details and, at the same time, the orcehstra does not lose sense of the big picture. And you get to hear both pieces on the same disc--two truly great symphonies played by a great orchestra. Highly recommended.
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Format: Audio CD
Stunning sound, from top to bottom of the orchestral spectrum here, and what surprised me was the quality of the performance. I hadn't associated Solti with Mendelssohn, and I might not even have picked this up if it wasn't going for $3.00 at my local indie store. I have to disagree with Santa Fe Listener here -- there's nothing cautious about the playing, and yet there's nothing tense or driven either. Solti seems at ease with the idiom, and he lets the richness of Mendelssohn's orchestration come through without any sacrifice of the forward motion. In the "Scottish," his willingness to give full weight to the near-dissonant fortissimos in the slow movement AND to the tenderness of the phrasing of the main themes (thus creating a sense of drama in the movement) was winning. He finds the vivacissimo for the fourth movement, and he cuts loose in the coda (great brass!) in a way worthy of Klemperer and Maag. All in all, an invigorating account. The "Italian" is similarly lively, again with the brass and woodwind distinguishing themselves. Altogether a most pleasant surprise.
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Format: Audio CD
I personally love this CD. The tempos are brisk and the execution is meticolous. I like Solti's fast tempos for the Scottish Symphony. The sound is the best of all the Mendelssohn recordings I own(Abbado LSO, Karajan BPO, Haitink LPO). I like Karajan very much as well, but I do not particulary like the balance of his recording. The violins are very well present but the lower registar is very muddy and I believe Mendelssohn dramatic and exciting music needs crystal clear base. Like what Decca offers us here. I highly recommend this very poweful and exciting Chicago/Solti version of the Scottish and Italian Symphonies
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Format: Audio CD
Sir Georg Solti did a magnificent job conducting the two popular pieces. The sound is wonderful...it's Chicago what else do you expect. The pieces are interpreted well. The quick tempos are played comfortably and the slows are lyrical and beautiful. This is an excellent choice for a music collection. I just wish The Hebrides was added to this recording.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This recording of the Mendelssohn symphonies #3 & #4 is by far the best available. Solti and the Chicago are at their best. I can't recommend it highly enough.
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