on 26 August 2012
This wonderful boxed-set comprises a grand total of 4 CD's featuring Mendelssohn's entire Symphonic output (Nos. 1 - 5), whilst also managing to squeeze in his seven Overtures for good measure. Felix's third Symphony ("Scottish") and fourth Symphony ("Italian") are probably the most widely performed pieces nowadays, but nonetheless it has been quite interesting for me to familiarise myself with some of his lesser known works.
If you are reading this review, it is likely that you may well be familiar with some of Mendelssohn's more popular Overtures such as "A Midsummer Night's Dream" or "The Hebrides" (commonly referred to as "Fingal's Cave") for example, whilst not forgetting to mention "Ruy Blas" etc. At the time, the London Symphony Orchestra were at the top of their game under the masterful baton of Claudio Abbado and at no point during exhaustive listening sessions to these exceptional recordings can I find fault with the musical interpretations of these works.
Incidentally, the recording venues were especially chosen for their renowned acoustics by Deutsche Grammophon's exacting sound engineers and include those found at the respective churches of All Saints, Tooting, S.W. London and St. John's, Smith Square central London, as well as Walthamstow's Town Hall in east London. Personally, I would not hesitate for one moment to highly recommend these delightful discs to anyone considering the purchase of Mendelssohn's Symphonic output. In all honesty I regard this boxed-set of CD's as a genuine bargain, because the total cost amounted to just over £14.00 inc P&P, which works out at roughly £3.50 per disc. In conclusion I feel sure you will enjoy these recordings so purchase with absolute confidence.
on 29 February 2004
If youre looking for a set of Mendelssohn symphonies look no further. For your money you get wonderful performances of all the Mendelssohn symphonies plus you get the wondeful overtures, my favourites being the 'trumpet' and 'overure for wind instruments'. If youre not looking for a set of mendelssohn symphonies why not? These have to be some of the most under- rated symphonies in the repertoire. The 'Italian' is the most famous -and Abbado leads a cracking rendition here, however I prefer the superb No. 5 'Reformation'. Not forgetting No. 2 'Lobesgang (Hymm of praise) - a chilled version of Beethoven's Choral. I could go on - but money on this set will not be wasted.
on 31 December 2007
Look no further than this for an excellent set of Mendelssohn Symphonies and Overtures, superbly recorded and peformed. Always rather underestimated, in my opinion, compared to Beethoven and Schubert. Shame though, that the text for the "Hymn of Praise" (Symphony Nr 2)is not included in the notes..
Claudio Abbado and the London Symphony Orchestra offer exceptionally stylish and fresh performances of five symphonies by Mendelssohn. The whole set is beautifully recorded.
They had recorded these pieces before but this recording is the recording by Abbado and the LSO that really matters.
Here we get Mendelssohn's mature symphonies plus three overtures and the orchestral arrangement (in shortened form) of the Scherzo from his String Octet.
On this release we get the whole of Symphony No. 2, Lobgesang ("Hymn of Praise"), a few seconds short of 75 minutes.
It must be said that is in this choral symphony the advantage of the wide-ranging digital sound comes out most strikingly, in clarifying the big sound of the choir. At the same time providing extra weight of sound, notably in the way that pedal notes on the organ come over in a rich and realistic way. This is particularly impressive.
As to interpretation, Abbado conveys a keen sense of joy with a wide expressive range.
Abbado uses a slow speed for the Andante that creates a warm but unmannered phrasing. Again, in the choral finale Abbado's speed is a bit more relaxed and the sense of joyful release is strong. Elizabeth Connell is tenderly affecting by being placed slightly at a distance. Then the chorus comes in with even more impact to signal the arrival of day. Earlier, Connell and the second soprano, Karita Mattila, are nicely matched in the duet with chorus, "Ich harrete des Herrn"
The recording helps to give them sweetness just as apt for the music. Hans-Peter Blochwitz's (tenor) is very good with beauty and natural feeling for words and phrasing. And the singing of the London Symphony Chorus is particularly beautiful in the chorale.
In Symphony No.1 the interpretation is tough and biting in the C minor first movement, slower and simpler in the second, returning to a tough, dark manner for the Minuet and finale.
In both the Scottish and Italian Symphonies Abbado is on top form. They are both very good recordings of these popular symphonies. The added Overtures on this disc, bring a fresh and attractive performance here.
The whole package is excellent and this is a release that is good to have in any collection of music by Mendelssohn.
This is a great product. A strong performance and an excellent sound recording.
What an exhilarating box of treats! Firstly, what an amazing tribute to the man who accomplished so much in his youth! Practically, half of the contents of this box were written before Mendelssohn was out of his teens. This includes a really good symphony that outshines many mature composers' first efforts at symphonic writing. The Scherzo in G minor is a setting for orchestra of a movement of the Octet and Mendelssohn used this as an alternative movement in the First Symphony.The Trumpet Overture and the Overture for Wind Instruments deserve to be better known. They are very good and totally enjoyable. Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage is less well known than The Hebrides Overture but both are beautifully rendered here. There are two more overtures written in the 1830s - 'The Fair Melusina' which again has the sound of the sea, and the overture 'Ruy Blas' which has some undertones of Berlioz. Then there are the symphonies of Mendelssohn's mature years. He does not seem to have liked his 'Reformation' Symphony and it did not get published until after his death. However it has lot of music in it that is worth hearing. The 'Italian' and the 'Scottish' Symphonies are very popular works and Claudio Abbado with the London Symphony Orchestra play them fittingly beautifully. I particularly like the performance of the slow movement of the 'Scottish'. The pinnacle of this box set may well be the 'Hymn of Praise' (Lobgesang)- effectively both a cantata and a symphony - lasting more than seventy minutes - all the elements are brought effectively together - the London Symphony Chorus, the soloists and the orchestra - a fitting conclusion to this treasury of the works of Mendelssohn.
on 17 August 2010
Abbado is one of those conductors who will use all of his expertise and energy to deliver music exactly how the composer intended, rather than imposing his individual interpretation on the listener
The, Third ("Scottish"), Fourth ("Italian") and Fifth ("Reformation") are outstanding versions of some of the finest symphonies of the Romantic period. The Reformation, intended to celebrate the tercentenary of the central statement of faith of the Lutheran Church, is sublime - with its wonderful scherzo and the finale, which incorporates many of the thematic elements of the three earlier movements, is indeed Heavenly. Abbado's version of the third is authoritative and the scherzo and the climax to the final movement are particularly noteworthy. This version of the "Italian" has an invigorating freshness about it.
Of the seven overtures, the energy in the Hebrides and the wonderful climax to "Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage" are most memorable in terms of both composition and performance. The Overture for Wind Instruments is original, delightful and very well performed.
There is the bonus of the Scherzo from the Octet - Mendelssohn sometimes included this in performances of his first symphony, substituting for the third movement minueto.
To compliment the wonderful performances these are outstanding recordings.
I am confident that these are performances of which even Mendelssohn might have approved.
Four outstanding CDs, with an average of 72 minute's music on each , also represents outstanding value. This box set is one of my treasured possessions.
on 7 April 2013
I am not a great fan of the Mendelssohn symphonies but, at this price and with Abbado conducting the LSO, it was a bargain not be missed. In addition to the symphonies you get seven Mendelssohn overtures, some of which are not often heard but well worth listening to. Don't miss this compilation.
on 28 September 2006
As other reviewers have said, these symphonies are vastly underrated - the collection here is a must for classical lovers. The symphonies themselves are very different in feel, structure and mood, but are all excellent. The overtures too are very fine and again illustrate the variety and subtlety of Mendelssohn's orchestral composition.
Abbado and the London Phil are in great form, the sound and production are superb - never too near to be overbearing, but very clear and crisp. Buy it.
on 21 November 2008
Abbado's accounts of Mendelssohn are magnificent and beautifully crafted. He has a fine balance beween intelectual grasp of structure in each symphony and emotional involvement, which makes these performances eloquent and noble. A must-buy for anyone who loves Mendelssohn's music!
on 20 May 2009
this is a superb set..the sound is crystal clear and the playing is full of energy - i dont know this music that well so i cant comment in depth but this set is much better than other versions of this work i have heard.
a good booklet with plenty of detail comes with the cds