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Mendelssohn: Symphony no 2 "Lobgesang" / de Vriend, Netherlands Symphony Orchestra

Mendelssohn / Netherlands So / De Vriend
Release Date: 02/12/2013 
Label:  Challenge   Catalog #: 72543   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Felix Mendelssohn
Conductor:  Jan Willem de Vriend
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Netherlands Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Mixed 
Length: 1 Hours 2 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

MENDELSSOHN Symphony No. 2, “Lobgesang” Jan Willem de Vriend, cond; Netherlands SO; Concentus Vocalis; Judith van Wanrolj (sop); Machteld Baumans (sop); Patrick Henckens (ten) CHALLENGE 72543 (62:36)

Although Mendelssohn’s “Hymn of Praise” bears the number 2, its proper place in the chronology of his symphonies is No. 4 (the proper order is 1,5,4,2,3). Will musicologists with nothing better to do, eventually and unnecessarily renumber them? Stay tuned. It was written in Read more celebration of the 400th anniversary of Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press (i.e., moveable type). Although Gutenberg is never specifically mentioned in the generally religious text, his contribution to civilization is alluded to. One melody from the symphony was adapted after Mendelssohn’s death to fit Charles Wesley’s verse, Hark, the Herald Angels Sing . Mendelssohn apparently used Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony as a model, but his choral finale is considerably longer than the first three movements put together and some have complained that it’s the weakest part of the symphony; in fact, Dennis Russell Davies made an otherwise good recording that omits the last movement. I happen to have a weakness for the piece and enjoyed listening to several recordings of it in preparation for this review of the Challenge Classics issue which does, indeed, challenge the other recordings of which my favorite is that of Wolfgang Sawallisch from an excellent complete set with the (New) Philharmonia Orchestra. Unfortunately, it is currently available only in a budget, really complete CD set that even includes the 13 String Symphonies (with the Sinfonietta Amsterdam led by Lev Markiz). Sawallisch also recorded the symphony with the Berlin Philharmonic but that one, I have not heard.

I suppose some will say that this recent release by Jan Willem de Vriend isn’t actually in competition with the ones I auditioned (De Waart, Hickox, Sawallisch, Schwarz) since it uses period practices but they actually make very little difference one way or the other and the performance bristles with energy and, to make it more appetizing, the sound is super-vivid, striking on its own account. Some may think he rushes the music and I personally would prefer a slower tempo in some of the sections—De Waart and, especially, Sawallisch and Schwarz, give the music a bit more weight and, sometimes, more solemnity. On the other hand, it can easily be argued that most of the text is celebratory rather than solemn and one certainly senses it with this conductor’s enthusiastic, energetic approach. Only the German text is provided in the booklet. If I were purchasing a single-disc of the Lobgesang , this would be my choice of the ones I have heard.

FANFARE: James Miller
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Works on This Recording

Symphony no 2 in B flat major, Op. 52 "Lobgesang" by Felix Mendelssohn
Conductor:  Jan Willem de Vriend
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Netherlands Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1840; Germany 
Venue:  Muziekcentrum Enschede 
Length: 24 Minutes 18 Secs. 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Marvelous Mendelssohn June 25, 2013 By Michael Gast (Wheeling, WV) See All My Reviews "Unlike most existing performances on CD, the tempi here are brisk and life-affirming. Not ponderous and darkly profound. Lobgesang was written by the composer for a momentous anniversary in Germanic cultural history and this performance makes it seem like a grand festival piece -- which it really, certainly is. Inspired music throughout performed with love and conviction. Mendelssohn and the Netherlands Symphony Orchestra, chorus and soloists are at the top of their game here." Report Abuse
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