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Andrew Manze and the
North German Radio Philharmonic on Pentatone:
Mendelssohn: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 3
Sensuously Mediterranean sounds and Northern solemnity shake hands on this recording of Mendelssohn’s Italian and Reformation symphonies (Nos. 4 and 5). This is the second release in a series of recordings in multi-channel surround sound for Pentatone by the conductor Andrew Manze and the NDR Radiophilharmonie. It’s no wonder that Robert Schumann dubbed Mendelssohn the “Mozart of the nineteenth century”; with his felicitous gift for melody and meticulous craftsmanship, his music positively brims with youthful spontaneity and
exuberance, blending dreamy poetic flights with moments of affecting tenderness and serenity. All this comes together in his Italian symphony, that is so full of joie de vivre, so sparkling with energy and esprit, so full of Mediterranean gaiety. Far beyond the picturesque, the piece offers Mendelssohn’s profoundly personal reflection, transformed into music, on the impressions made on his senses by the landscape, architecture, lifestyle, and people of Italy. Equally personal is Mendelssohn’s Reformation symphony, in which the devoutly Christian composer aimed to combine elements and traditions of sacred instrumental music with those of an autonomous symphony. The result is highly original: a so-called finale symphony, in which the programmatic destination of the entire work is oriented towards the finale, based on the Lutheran chorale “A mighty fortress is our God”.
The results are exhilarating: a fresh, dynamic “Italian” Symphony, bursting with life and light, is followed by a “Reformation” Symphony that is transparent, not weighty but deeply eloquent, its “Dresden Amen” so uplifting that Wagner would directly copy it.
– Observer (UK) Read less
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