Mendelssohn Symphonies

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MaestroDJS
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Mendelssohn Symphonies

Post by MaestroDJS » Thu Oct 13, 2005 11:33 am

All this discussion about Bach has made me want to listen to -- you guessed it -- Felix Mendelssohn! Kurt Masur has made excellent recordings of the 5 mature symphonies with the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig. This is appropriate because Mendelssohn was associated with this orchestra. His "Scottish" and "Italian" Symphonies are well known, but the other 3 are well worth getting to know. Many pleasant surprises.

The 5 Symphonies: No. 1 in C Minor, No. 2 in B-Flat Major "Lobgesang", No. 3 in A Minor "Scottish"; No. 4 in A Major "Italian"; No. 5 in D Minor "Reformation". Gewandhausorchester Leipzig / Kurt Masur. Eurodisc 69237-2-RV (3 CDs)

I also have recordings of Nos. 1 and 2 by Wolfgang Sawallisch and the New Philharmonia Orchestra, Nos. 3, 4 and 5 by Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic, and Nos. 4 and 5 by Arturo Toscanini and the NBC Symphony Orchestra.

The string symphonies are fascinating early works, and the Naxos CDs by Nicholas Ward and the Northern Chamber Orchestra are quite good.

String Symphonies, Vol. 1: No. 1 in C Major; No. 2 in D Major; No. 3 in E Minor; No. 4 in C Minor; No. 5 in B-Flat Major; No. 6 in E-Flat Major. Northern Chamber Orchestra / Nicholas Ward. Naxos 8.553161

String Symphonies, Vol. 2: No. 7 in D Minor; No. 8 in D Major; No. 9 in C Major. Northern Chamber Orchestra / Nicholas Ward. Naxos 8.553162

String Symphonies, Vol. 3: No. 10 in B Minor; No. 11 in F Minor; No. 12 in G Minor; No. 13 in C Minor (Sinfoniesatz). Northern Chamber Orchestra / Nicholas Ward. Naxos 8.553163

Dave

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Barry
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Post by Barry » Thu Oct 13, 2005 12:02 pm

I've long felt that Mendelssohn's first symphony is an often overlooked gem; and especially remarkable considering his age when he composed it. The Haitink cycle (with Chailly subsitituting for the 2nd) on Philips was my starter set and it's a good one for those looking to get to know these symphonies. It comes as two two-for-one sets.

The Scottish is a big favorite of mine and Maag's LSO account is still tops for me. I picked up the Sawallisch/New Philharmonia set in a used CD shop a few months back. Overall, I'd rate it behind the Haitink set, but the Italian from the Sawallisch set is outstanding, up there with Sinopoli/Philharmonia as my two favorite recordings of the work.
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Haydnseek
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Post by Haydnseek » Thu Oct 13, 2005 12:14 pm

I purchased this box set not too long ago:

Image

I haven't listened to all 6 discs yet but the very good reviews some of these recordings received in Gramophone seem well merited so far:

"Flor has an excellent feel for Mendelssohn's music. Most importantly he never drives it too hard, and even when he chooses a swift tempo there is an engaging lightness of touch and a quicksilver quality in his conducting. And he understands the paradox that while Mendelssohn's scores should never be made to sound too heavy they often contain more emotional depth and expressive weight than is immediately apparent."

Only the disc of the Piano Concertos played by Sergei Edelmann has been a disappointment.

I also enjoy very much Haitink's 1970's Philips recordings with the London Philharmonic.

For the string symphonies I have only the Nieuw Sinfonietta Amsterdam conducted by Lev Markiz. A very fine young chamber orchestra, I think, outstandingly recorded by BIS. I haven't wanted another set.
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Gary
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Re: Mendelssohn Symphonies

Post by Gary » Thu Oct 13, 2005 4:19 pm

MaestroDJS wrote:All this discussion about Bach has made me want to listen to -- you guessed it -- Felix Mendelssohn! Kurt Masur has made excellent recordings of the 5 mature symphonies with the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig. This is appropriate because Mendelssohn was associated with this orchestra. His "Scottish" and "Italian" Symphonies are well known, but the other 3 are well worth getting to know. Many pleasant surprises.

The 5 Symphonies: No. 1 in C Minor, No. 2 in B-Flat Major "Lobgesang", No. 3 in A Minor "Scottish"; No. 4 in A Major "Italian"; No. 5 in D Minor "Reformation". Gewandhausorchester Leipzig / Kurt Masur. Eurodisc 69237-2-RV (3 CDs)


The string symphonies are fascinating early works
Dave
Since my signature quotes the motto of the Leipzig Gewandhaus, I think I will recommend a few Mendelssohn recordings made by that orchestra, out of obligation, if for no other reason.

The Masur recordings above were made in the early 70s when he had just become the orchestra's kapellmeister. In the late 80s he recorded the complete mature symphonies for the second time with the same forces for Teldec/Warner Classics. Those seem to be available only as special import items in the U.S. The two mature piano concertos and the Capriccio brillant are included as well; Katsaris performing.


http://www.warnerclassics.com/release.php?release=3325


Here are the rest.

Note: The links below are all from Amazon.com because I happened to have made a Listmania List of Mendelssohn recordings. It's out of convenience--that's all. I don't make a cent off of this.

Masur/LGO: String Symhonies.

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/de ... 5?v=glance

Masur/LGO: Overtures

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/de ... 5?v=glance

Masur/LGO/Vengerov: Violin Concerto in E minor

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/de ... 5?v=glance

Franz Konwitschny/Igor Oistrakh: Violin Concerto in E minor & Helmut Koch/Berlin Chamber Orchestra/Gustav Schmahl: Violin Concerto in D minor

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/de ... 5?v=glance

Here are the Katsaris recordings by themselves (minus the Capriccio): Masur/LGO & Janos Rolla/Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra: Piano Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Op. 25, Piano Concerto No. 2 in D minor, Op. 40, Piano Concerto in A minor:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/de ... =classical


Masur/LGO: A Midsummer Night's Dream

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/de ... 5?v=glance

Masur/LGO:Die erste Walpurgisnacht

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/de ... 5?v=glance

Masure/LGO: Paulus

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/de ... 5?v=glance

Wolfgang Sawallisch/LGO:Elias

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/de ... 5?v=glance

DVD--Masur/LGO: Mendelssohn Gala Concert From the Gewandhaus Leipzig


1. Overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream op. 21
2. Concert for Vilin and Orchestra in E minor
3. Symphony No. 3 A minor "Scottish Symphony"
4. Wedding March from A Midsummer Night's Dream

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00005 ... 0&v=glance
Barry Z wrote:The Scottish is a big favorite of mine and Maag's LSO account is still tops for me.
That one is for the ages!

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/de ... =classical
Last edited by Gary on Mon Feb 27, 2006 11:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Jack Kelso
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Post by Jack Kelso » Fri Oct 14, 2005 5:29 am

Mendelssohn's symphonies are enjoyable works if performed properly. They can suffer at the hands of conductors who have a passion for rubato.

The 4th ("Italianische") plays itself; the 3rd ("Schottische") shouldn't ever drag, even a little bit. Mitropoulos/NY Phil keeps up a good, slightly wild pace.

The joyful outburst following the woodwind chorale "Ein' feste Burg ist unsre Gott" between the 3rd and 4th mvts of the 5th Symphony ("Reformation") is taken by most conductors far, far too fast---and Maazel and Masur are no exceptions. It's a wonder to me why such renowned conductors would whiz right through this marvelous section!

Only Ernest Bour (SW German Radio Sym., Baden-Baden) does it right for me in stereo.

Of course, Toscanini's is the one to have----if one cannot record from German radio stations!

Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

RebLem
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Mendelssohn performances

Post by RebLem » Fri Oct 14, 2005 7:53 am

Gary has already pointed out something which I fear many will miss because of his exposition style. Kurt Masur and the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orch have recorded not only the 5 mature Mendelssohn symphonies, but also the youthful string symphonies, and they are head and shoulders above all the others in performance quality. They are available in a 4 CD set from Berlin Classics, 0091432BC, recorded in 1971. I want to thank Gary for telling us about their recodings of other works by Mendelssohn, esp. Paulus, of which I was previously unaware.

I heartily endorse the recommendations of the last three symphonies by Bernstein and of the Scottish by Peter Maag. My favorite recording of anything by Mendelssohn, though, has not been mentioned--the Italian symphony recording by George Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra.

In the spirit of Gary, who cited all sorts of performances of works by Mendelssohn other than the symphonies, I would like to point out that Naxos has available an excellent set of Mendelssohn's complete chamber music. This is particularly important since, in my opinion, much of Mendelssohn's chamber music and Schumann's choral music are among the most underappreciated works by great composers in the literature.
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Jack Kelso
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Re: Mendelssohn performances

Post by Jack Kelso » Fri Oct 14, 2005 8:38 am

RebLem wrote:This is particularly important since, in my opinion, much of Mendelssohn's chamber music and Schumann's choral music are among the most underappreciated works by great composers in the literature.
You have made a very astute point which even many musicologists have failed to note.

Mendelssohn's writing for string ensembles was brilliantly idiomatic, more so than even the "heavier" string quartets of Schumann and Brahms.

Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

MaestroDJS
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Post by MaestroDJS » Fri Oct 14, 2005 8:44 am

Jack Kelso wrote:The joyful outburst following the woodwind chorale "Ein' feste Burg ist unsre Gott" between the 3rd and 4th mvts of the 5th Symphony ("Reformation") is taken by most conductors far, far too fast---and Maazel and Masur are no exceptions. It's a wonder to me why such renowned conductors would whiz right through this marvelous section!
Now I'm curious. What is the tempo Mendelssohn marked in his score, and what are the tempi used by Maazel and Masur? Mendelssohn lived in the age of the metronome, so maybe he indicated it. (This reminds me that Leopold Stokowski was once asked why he zipped so quickly through the final pages of Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 in his 1929 recording with the composer. He replied that it was what Rachmaninoff specifically requested during rehearsals.)

Dave

David Stybr, Engineer and Composer: It's Left Brain vs. Right Brain: best 2 falls out of 3
http://members.SibeliusMusic.com/Stybr
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PS. Well, I'll be darned. Mendelssohn + Maazel + Masur = MMM, which renders this music delicious to Homer Simpson: "Mmm, Mendelssohn."

I'll also look at my roll of Scotch tape (made by 3M) in a new light. No wonder this music "sticks" in my mind. :)

Gary
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Post by Gary » Fri Oct 14, 2005 5:55 pm

Here's another Gewandaus recording of the mature piano concertos with Herbert Blomstedt at the helm and Jean-Yves Thibaudet at the piano. Also included on the disc are a couple of solo piano pieces: Variations sérieuses, op. 54 · Rondo capriccioso, op. 14.

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/de ... 8?v=glance

A DVD of the Gewandhaus Orchestra and the Thomas Choir (yes, Bach's own) performing excerpts from Elias. Herbert Blomstedt conducting.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00004 ... 0&v=glance
Last edited by Gary on Mon Feb 27, 2006 10:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by jserraglio » Fri Oct 14, 2005 6:54 pm

I like Louis Lane in Symphony 1, Masur and Dohnanyi for the cycle.

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