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Mendelssohn: Symphonies No 3 & 5 / Haitink, London Philharmonic

Release Date: 04/08/2010 
Label:  Philips   Catalog #: 420884   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Felix Mendelssohn
Conductor:  Bernard Haitink
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 7 Mins. 

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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

The sheer beauty of the sound of the new Philips recording of the Scottish Symphony is overwhelming. Not only does the LPO provide some marvellously luminous timbre (the upper strings ravishing in their cantilena after the sombre introduction on the wind), but the recording itself produces an impressively sumptuous body of tone. Yet the balance is admirable, inner detail is excellent and the delicate blending of flutes and clarinets with the violins at the appearance of the enchanting second subject is an aural delight. From the opening of the Allegro Haitink sets a swifter pace than Muti and at the Assai animato he presses on strongly. Without in any way losing the music's lyrical feeling, and with the help of the resonant recording, he Read more achieves a greater symphonic breadth, and in the final, vigorous climax he draws obvious parallels with the 'storm' sequence in Fingals Cave. In the remaining three movements the readings are remarkably alike, and the easy freshness of the Muti version is emphasized by the HMV recording which is less weightily massive in texture. Yet the warmth and bloom of the Philips recording is ever telling. There is a magical glow at the opening of the Scherzo (lovely clarinet playing) and the violins dance seductively in their vivacissimo theme which leads the finale after creating a feeling of gracious repose in the Adagio (the wind playing in the coda no less bewitching). The one black mark against this new recording is the omission of the first movement exposition repeat, which Muti allows to great effect (so you get three extra bars of music—only chords it is true—on the excellent HMV disc). At the opening of the overture Haitink evokes a magical feeling of atmosphere, but at the ingenuous but delightful brass entry at the end—shades of Three blind mice—Muti's faster tempo is more effective.

For the symphony I would place Haitink at the top of a distinguished list alongside Abbado whose London Symphony Orchestra coupling with the Italian Symphony remains a first-class recommendation, and Maag who gave us the first decent stereo version in 1960—also with the LSO—which still sounds as fresh as the day it was originally issued.

-- Gramophone [1/1982, reviewing Symphony no 3 on LP]


The Reformation Symphony has been described as a 'problem child' among Mendelssohn's symphonies and the temptation for conductors is to take a relatively free view, helping it along with persuasiveness. Bernstein (DG) provides an admirable example, Karajan (also on DG) too in his less passionate way. Haitink by contrast takes an unusually direct view in a reading that is characteristically crisp and fresh. In the Scherzo, for example, with its staccato dotted rhythms for woodwind Haitink's literal reading has less fun in it than those of the three rival versions, but in compensation he brings out what might be described as an innocent Schubertian quality, not just there, but elsewhere as in the simple melody of the brief song-like slow movement. The finale too brings a refreshing performance, not so infectiously sprung as by Bernstein, Muti (HMV) or Karajan but with extra incisiveness to make it seem a more taut conclusion than it usually does.

-- Gramophone [6/1981, reviewing Symphony no 5 on LP]
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Works on This Recording

Symphony no 5 in D major, Op. 107 "Reformation" by Felix Mendelssohn
Conductor:  Bernard Haitink
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1832; Germany 
Symphony no 3 in A minor, Op. 56 "Scottish" by Felix Mendelssohn
Conductor:  Bernard Haitink
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1842; Germany 

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