1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 30 January 2014
Forget if you can that the composer was not even in his teens when some of these pieces were composed; imagine that Josef Haydn had been reincarnated with his musical skill and creativity intact, but in a younger more vivacious body. That's the image I have of the young Felix Mendelssohn: a child genius of mind-boggling talent, who built on the exemplary traditions of the baroque and helped create the era we now recognise as the "romantic" period of classical musicology.
The string symphonies are youthful and yet mature: he had already composed two operas,many songs, choral and instrumental pieces in the year or so leading up to string symphony number one, and the next five were dashed off in a whirlwind of creative genius within a year (1821). Number 7 onwards show the maturing of his own style, though it never became as distinctively different as, say, Berlioz.
Number 8 (my personal favourite) has a remarkable blend of inventiveness and micro-managed scoring, together with some unforgettable melodics. The scoring of the later string symphonies in particular is so comprehensive (you could say elaborate), that you can almost forget that there are only strings involved (plus a touch of timpani in places now and then).
As with Haydn and Mozart, it is the finesse of the performance that makes or breaks the listening experience, and with these works there is plenty of scope for getting little things a bit wrong. I am glad to say that the LFO are suitably polished, leaving the listener with a sense of wonder and admiration: very tight playing where the rapidity of the score demands precision and cohesion, yet seemingly effortless when the musical mood turns expansive.
The CD itself is DDD, the recordings are from the mid/late 1980s, and unless my hearing is deteriorating, they are a tad dull in texture, but nothing that a bit of treble boost won't sort out - hence my 4 star rating rather than 5. Clarity is otherwise good, and the relatively small orchestral forces make for a quite intimate feel and a precise sound stage.
A lot of very good music and excellent playing for your money in this 3 CD set!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Excellent, lively, beautifully finished performances of interesting Mendelssohn juvenilia. Very well recorded too. These discs will give a lot of pleasure.