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Mendelssohn: 5 Symphonies, 7 Overtures / Abbado, London SO

Album Summary

>Mendelssohn, Felix : Symphony no 1 in C minor, Op. 11
>Mendelssohn, Felix : Octet for strings in E flat major, Op. 20
>Mendelssohn, Felix : Midsummer Night's Dream Overture, in E major Op. 21
>Mendelssohn, Felix : Hebrides Overture, in B minor Op. 26 "Fingal's Cave"
>Mendelssohn, Felix : Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage Overture, in D major Op. 27
>Mendelssohn, Felix : Symphony no 2 in B flat major, Op. 52 "Lobgesang"
>Mendelssohn, Felix : Symphony no 3 in A minor, Op. 56 "Scottish"
>Mendelssohn, Felix : Overture for orchestra in F major ("Fair Melusina"), Op. 32
>Mendelssohn, Felix : Overture for orchestra in C major ("Trumpet"), Op. 101
>Mendelssohn, Felix : Ruy Blas Overture, Op. 95
>Mendelssohn, Felix : Symphony no 4 in A major, Op. 90 "Italian"
>Mendelssohn, Felix : Symphony no 5 in D major, Op. 107 "Reformation"
>Mendelssohn, Felix : Overture for wind instruments in C major ("Harmoniemusik"), Op. 24
Performers Conductor Ensembles Composer

Notes & Reviews:

Claudio Abbado makes a welcome appearance in Collectors Edition at last, with his classic recording of the complete Mendelssohn Symphonies and selected Overtures - now made available at budget price for the first time. This set is regarded as the reference recording of Mendelssohn symphonies by many critics (including Gramophone magazine, for the "Italian" and "Scottish" Symphonies). The four-CD box is further enhanced by the inclusion of four overtures otherwise only available at high price and NOT available in the previous reduced price box set: Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage, the Ruy Blas Overture, the Trumpet Overture and the Overture for Wind Instruments.

Gramophone Classical Music Guide
It is in the choral Second Symphony that the advantage of the wide-ranging digital sound comes out most strikingly, in clarifying the big tuttis with choir, at the same time providing extra weight of sound, notably in the way that pedal notes on the organ come over in a rich and realistic way. As to interpretation, Abbado in the first instrumental movement conveys a keener sense of joy with a wide expressive range. The yearning 6/8 movement is the more haunting too at Abbado's much slower speed, and though Abbado's slower speed for the Andante religioso brings obvious dangers of sweetness and sentimentality, he manages to avoid them completely with his warm but unmannered phrasing. Again, in the choral finale Abbado's speeds tend to be a degree more relaxed and the sense of joyful release is all the keener. His three soloists are very fine and their tonal beauty and natural feeling for words and phrasing are a delight. So too is the singing of the London Symphony Chorus, particularly beautiful in the chorale, 'Nun danket alle Gott'. Abbado's expansiveness and his more luminous choral sound has one forgetting the obvious shortcomings of the work with its unavoidable element of Victorian blandness.

It is that avoidance of Victorian blandness which is striking in Abbado's accounts of Nos 1 and 5. In No 1 he is tough and biting, slower and simpler in the second movement, returning to a tough, dark manner for the Minuet and finale. This is a performance which has one marvelling that Mendelssohn could have ever have countenanced the idea of the Octet Scherzo as substitute, a piece so different in mood. The first movement of the Reformation finds Abbado in dramatic mood, and crisper and again quicker in the second movement Allegro vivace. (For individual comments on the Scottish and Italian symphonies see following review.) As for the overtures they too bring fresh and attractive performances, very fast and fleet in the fairy music of A Midsummer NightsDream and with the contrast between first and second subjects of The Hebrides underlined.

This was one of Abbado's biggest recording projects with the orchestra of which he was music director, and remains a richly rewarding legacy.



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Works Details

>Mendelssohn, Felix : Symphony no 1 in C minor, Op. 11
  • Conductor: Claudio Abbado
  • Ensemble: London Symphony Orchestra
  • Running Time: 31 min. 44 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: 03/31/1824

>Mendelssohn, Felix : Octet for strings in E flat major, Op. 20 :: Scherzo in G minor
  • Conductor: Claudio Abbado
  • Ensemble: London Symphony Chorus
  • Running Time: 4 min. 2 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Form: Chamber Music
  • Written: 10/15/1825

>Mendelssohn, Felix : Midsummer Night's Dream Overture, in E major Op. 21
  • Conductor: Claudio Abbado
  • Ensemble: London Symphony Orchestra
  • Running Time: 12 min. 7 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Written: 08/06/1826

>Mendelssohn, Felix : Hebrides Overture, in B minor Op. 26 "Fingal's Cave"
  • Conductor: Claudio Abbado
  • Ensemble: London Symphony Orchestra
  • Notes: Composition written: 12/11/1830.
  • Running Time: 10 min. 29 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: 12/11/1830

>Mendelssohn, Felix : Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage Overture, in D major Op. 27
  • Conductor: Claudio Abbado
  • Ensemble: London Symphony Orchestra
  • Running Time: 13 min. 7 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: circa 05/1828

>Mendelssohn, Felix : Symphony no 2 in B flat major, Op. 52 "Lobgesang"
  • Performers: Hans-Peter Blochwitz (Tenor); Elizabeth Connell (Soprano); Karita Mattila
  • Conductor: Claudio Abbado
  • Ensemble: London Symphony Orchestra
  • Running Time: 37 min. 57 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Form: Choral
  • Written: circa 1840

>Mendelssohn, Felix : Symphony no 3 in A minor, Op. 56 "Scottish"
  • Conductor: Claudio Abbado
  • Ensemble: London Symphony Orchestra
  • Notes: Composition written: 01/20/1842.
  • Running Time: 42 min. 30 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: 01/20/1842

>Mendelssohn, Felix : Overture for orchestra in F major ("Fair Melusina"), Op. 32
  • Conductor: Claudio Abbado
  • Ensemble: London Symphony Orchestra
  • Running Time: 10 min. 55 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: 11/14/1833

>Mendelssohn, Felix : Overture for orchestra in C major ("Trumpet"), Op. 101
  • Conductor: Claudio Abbado
  • Ensemble: London Symphony Orchestra
  • Running Time: 9 min. 14 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: circa 1825

>Mendelssohn, Felix : Ruy Blas Overture, Op. 95
  • Conductor: Claudio Abbado
  • Ensemble: London Symphony Orchestra
  • Running Time: 8 min. 20 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: 03/08/1839

>Mendelssohn, Felix : Symphony no 4 in A major, Op. 90 "Italian"
  • Conductor: Claudio Abbado
  • Ensemble: London Symphony Orchestra
  • Notes: Composition written: 03/13/1833.
  • Running Time: 27 min. 44 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: 03/13/1833

>Mendelssohn, Felix : Symphony no 5 in D major, Op. 107 "Reformation"
  • Conductor: Claudio Abbado
  • Ensemble: London Symphony Orchestra
  • Running Time: 30 min. 20 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: 05/12/1830

>Mendelssohn, Felix : Overture for wind instruments in C major ("Harmoniemusik"), Op. 24
  • Conductor: Claudio Abbado
  • Ensemble: London Symphony Orchestra
  • Running Time: 9 min. 46 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: 07/1824