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 andRead more 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.
Good performance, but.....November 8, 2018By William D. (Yonkers, NY)See All My Reviews"The associated review of this recording of the 'Reformation Symphony' missed one major point. This is the first version Mendelssohn penned and it does NOT quote Bach's hymn "Ein Feste Burg..." The original version has some lovely playing from this orchestra and the engineering sounds good as well, but if you want to hear the version which DOES quote the Bach hymn, this ain't it. Kurt Masur, Leonard Bernstein, Claudio Abbado and Christopher von Dohnanyi all recorded the Reformation Symphony in the later 'Ein Feste Burg version. I prefer those versions to the 'original' which is included here."Report Abuse