RECENT: Find out about composers from unusual places, including Gerard Schurmann, Giya Kancheli, Nazib Zhiganov and Nodar Gabunia, about singing in cars, and meet Jim Hutton from the RLPO and some of our regular contributors in this eighty-minute February 2021 video.
Born into a hospitable family, Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847) was a child prodigy whose compositions have wooed millions during the last 180 years. Indeed, he is still one of Germany's most performed composers and amazingly, with the passing of time, his music seems to get more and more beautiful. No surprise really, as Felix's career started well before his teenage years, and by the time he was thirteen, his compositional technique and imagination were well beyond his age.
Some of his earliest works are the String Symphonies. But these delightful pieces were not written just for the sake of experimentation but because there was a reason for their creation. In the Mendelssohn household, Sundays at eleven were dedicated to musical entertainment of the most serious nature. A select circle were invited to attend, and an even smaller one stayed for lunch and for tea until evening. It was during these gatherings that the young Felix performed his works with his excellent orchestra of eight players, and he conducted with such youthful gusto that the audience never ceased to marvel at his inexhaustible yet childlike genius.
The two symphonies on this disc - Nos 8 and 9 - date from 1823 when Felix was just fourteen, yet both pieces amply display the wide spectrum of innovation that was later to come to full flourish in such works as the Scottish and Italian symphonies, the two Piano Concertos and the E minor Violin Concerto.
These are works brimming with melodic content, exciting harmonic invention and a dynamic timbre that keep the listener enthralled from start to finish. Their abrupt change of mood is also an element that lends a certain mysterious and mystic feeling to the music.
Listen — Mendelssohn: Menuetto (Sinfonia VIII in D)
(track 3, 0:00-0:50) © 2019 classic produktion osnabrück :
As in the previous two volumes, Michi Gaigg and his Baroque Orchestra deliver performances full of charm and beauty, and his intrinsic knowledge of this repertoire is all too evident in the exquisite pacing of these scores coupled with a vibrant predilection for colour and clarity.
Listen — Mendelssohn: Poco Adagio (Sinfonia IX in C)
(track 7, 0:01-0:58) © 2019 classic produktion osnabrück :
The programme is completed by a short, dramatic 'scena' - Che vuoi ... mio cor? - for alto and strings, superbly sung by Margot Oitzinger.
Listen — Mendelssohn: Scene for alto and strings
(track 5, 7:12-8:11) © 2019 classic produktion osnabrück :
A fine third helping in this short Mendelssohn cycle, in sumptuous sound and informative annotations.
Copyright © 20 January 2020