Notes and Editorial Reviews
Written in 1840 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the invention of printing, this work is basically a symphony with a cantata where a symphonic finale usually belongs. The text is German, and taken from the Bible. Unfortunately, like most of the competition, EMI Classics has omitted both the text and a translation, preferring instead to devote two panels of the foldout booklet to “minis” of other “Encore” CDs the label would like you to purchase! Anyway, as the symphony’s title suggests (“Song of Praise”), the mood is upbeat, and the music is strong enough to carry the gist of the text.
Sawallisch’s recording appears to have come from the late 1980s; I can’t remember having seen it before. It is very competitive. Both
Dohnányi (Decca) and Chailly (Philips) have recorded this symphony, and their versions have been released in two-fers with the First Symphony and other goodies. Those recordings are good, but not great. Sawallisch seems more excited by this music than they are, and his excitement is contagious. Furthermore, his single-disc release doesn’t force you to buy music you might not want. The two sopranos sing freshly (and are well contrasted), Seiffert only a little less so. There’s a tendency to sing this work like proto-Wagner (Rienzi also was completed in 1840), but Láki, Shirai, Seiffert, and the energetic Düsseldorf-based chorus fight the urge. Rather than turning this symphony into a long Lutheran mass, Sawallisch and friends keep it appropriately joyful. The recording venue is not identified, but the digital engineering is lively, with both heft and brilliance.
Need just this symphony? This CD should do you nicely.
--Raymond Tuttle, FANFARE
Works on This Recording
Symphony no 2 in B flat major, Op. 52 "Lobgesang" by Felix Mendelssohn
Krisztina Láki (Soprano),
Mitsuko Shirai (Mezzo Soprano),
Peter Seiffert (Tenor)
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,
Düsseldorf City Chorus
Written: 1840; Germany
Date of Recording: 09/1987
Venue: Live Philharmonie, Berlin
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