Gramophone Magazine Editor's Choice - October 2016
Constantly in the vanguard of enlightened interpretation, Sir John Eliot Gardiner stands as a leader in today’s musical life. His award-winning Mendelssohn cycle on LSO Live showcases his period performance expertise; the LSO muscians standing to play, highlighting their individual musicianship. As Gardiner notes: "It gives a different type of dynamism and energy... it means that the fiddles are freer in the way that they attack the extremely virtuosic lines and it gives a tremendous sense of occasion to the music making."
Dramatic and harmonically adventurous, Mendelssohn’s Symphony No 1 is presented here in a unique format, with both the original and revised versions of the third movement. As Gardiner said when introducing the work in concert: "It’s not every evening that you get to hear a symphony by a 14-and-a-half-year-old genius and there’s an intriguing complication to this piece. When Mendelssohn came to London in 1829, he performed the symphony and he wrote back to his parents saying: “well, I looked over my symphony and, lord, the minuet bored me to tears! So what I did was to take the scherzo from my Octet and I added a few airy trumpets and it sounded lovely.” Well, actually he did an awful lot more than that; he re-orchestrated absolutely brilliantly. And it’s so good, we thought you should hear that version. But what about the minuet and trio? Why, when he came to publish the symphony did he use that version and leave out the scherzo? I happen to think they’re both really remarkable, as is the whole symphony, and perhaps you’d let us know which you prefer...?"
The Fourth Symphony is inspired by the sights, sounds and atmosphere of Italy and is among the best loved of all the composer’s works. Mendelssohn himself described it as: "the jolliest piece I’ve written so far."
London Symphony Orchestra, Sir John Eliot Gardiner
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Mendelssohn: Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 11
I. Allegro di molto
III. Scherzo: Sempre pianissimo e leggiero
III. Menuetto: Allegro molto
IV. Allegro con fuoco
Mendelssohn: Symphony No. 4 in A Major, Op. 90 "Italian"
I. Allegro vivace
II. Andante con moto
III. Menuetto. Con moto moderato
IV. Finale (Saltarello). Presto
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21st August 2016
“Gardiner’s Mendelssohn is as genial as it gets.”
9th September 2016
“the LSO [is] at its most immaculate with Sir John Eliot Gardiner, through his completely fresh view of the [First Symphony, pretty much re-inventing it…this is a glorious disc, along with a breathtakingly all’aperto performance of the Italian Symphony…the best you will hear”
“Gardiner’s real competition is with himself, and the Vienna Philharmonic. But the strings of the LSO display unrivalled agility...Taken at a true presto, the finale [of the Italian] never quite spins out of control but sounds as though it might at any moment. Outstanding.”
“Gardiner keeps the LSO on its toes both in the C minor work and the Italian symphony, the winds producing crystal-clear articulation the hair-raisingly fast account of the latter’s concluding saltarello. He also effectively brings out the undercurrent of unease in the C minor work’s slow movement, and the final reprise of its theme is quite beautifully handled.”