Edward Gardner and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra present Volume 2 in their series Mendelssohn in Birmingham; this time they perform Symphonies Nos 1 and 3 and the Overture to Ruy Blas. The impressive first volume was roundly praised, International Record Review commending the ‘powerfully engaging and alert performances’, while The Sunday Times made it their ‘Album of the Week’.
Among the fruits of his prodigiously gifted youth were thirteen string symphonies, which Mendelssohn composed privately as ‘practice’ pieces. At age fifteen he returned to the last of these, expanded the orchestration, and published it as the first of his mature numbered symphonies. As heard here, this energetic work, bursting with youthfulRead more high spirits, shows the influence of Mozart, Beethoven, and Weber, but that influence is always absorbed in a personal way.
Although numbered as the third of five, the ‘Scottish’ Symphony was actually the last which Mendelssohn composed. Inspiration for it had come while Mendelssohn was visiting Edinburgh in 1829. He was immediately moved to compose the brooding melody that begins and ends the work, but not until 1842 did he actually finish this masterpiece.
No such time span was needed to complete the Overture to Victor Hugo’s tragedy Ruy Blas, which was commissioned only three days before the production’s opening night. Mendelssohn loathed Hugo’s drama and though the opening is suitably sombre, the rest of the overture disregards the play’s form and character, concluding in celebration where Hugo’s story culminates in murder and suicide.
Gardner conducts these pieces with a highly satisfying blend of freedom and discipline. In some of Mendelssohn's more lyrical moments you need a metronome to judge his rhythmic flexibility, so naturally does he apply it, and throughout the disc the strings articulate with splendid vigor.
Ruy Blas Overture, Op. 95by Felix Mendelssohn Conductor:
City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic Written: 1839; Germany Date of Recording: 02/16/2014 Venue: Town Hall, Birmingham Length: 7 Minutes 29 Secs.
Symphony no 1 in C minor, Op. 11by Felix Mendelssohn Conductor:
Period: Romantic Written: 1824; Germany Venue: Town Hall, Birmingham Length: 29 Minutes 25 Secs.
Marvelous MendelssohnOctober 28, 2014By Joseph Lieber, MD (Great Neck, NY)See All My Reviews"What a great follow up to the first volume in this series.The First and Third symphonies played beautifully by th CBSO under the control of Edward Gardner. There are many sets of these symphonies available, but the Gardner adds lilt and great sonics to these works.The Overtures, Ruy Blas here and the Hebrides on volume one are great.Eagerly waiting the next installment!!"Report Abuse