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Cat. No. CHSA 5132 Price: 11.5 No. of discs: 1
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CHSA 5132 - Mendelssohn: Mendelssohn in Birmingham, Volume 1
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Available From: 01 January 2014

Chandos CHAN 5132

Mendelssohn: The Hebrides; Symphony No. 5 ‘Reformation’; Symphony No. 4 ‘Italian’ – City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Edward Gardner

Mendelssohn in Birmingham is an exciting new recording project with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and its Principal Guest Conductor, Edward Gardner. It celebrates Mendelssohn’s special relationship with the city’s Town Hall and will feature the complete symphonies, recorded there. It was a venue much loved by Mendelssohn, which saw him conduct many of his own works there, including premieres. Mendelssohn in Birmingham also encompasses a major concert series at the Town Hall which will run alongside these recordings.

Inspiration for the Overture The Hebrides sprang from experiencing the seas and landscapes of the Scottish Western Isles. The famous wave-like repeated patterns of its opening set the scene for a vivid work that has been a template for composers of ‘sea’ music ever since. Symphony No. 5 ‘Reformation’ was completed in 1832, and although the last of his numbered symphonies, it was the second to be composed. Typically for him, Mendelssohn had doubts about its quality and soon wrote it off. This self-criticism is highly exaggerated, for it is a finely crafted and original work. Similarly, despite the success of its premiere in 1833, Mendelssohn significantly revised and eventually abandoned his ‘Italian’ Symphony, No. 4. Fortunately, the original score from the premiere was recovered and published, posthumously, in 1851. The symphony is relatively short and its pervasive lightness of touch lends it a unique character and charm.


                         **** - Excellent
Frederico Bianchessi – Musica magazine (Italy) – October 2014 

“…Opulently recorded in the city’s Town Hall (a venue where Mendelssohn conducted his own music), these are readings of delectable poise, tingling conviction and intrepid personality, full of fresh-faced poetry, crisp detail and many an illuminating touch that readily stoke the imagination – just listen to those gloriously evocative woodwind cries at the heart of The Hebrides overture… a notable achievement…”  ****
Andrew Achenbach – Classical Ear.co.uk -  May 2014


                  *** - Good Disc   ***Good Sound
Pierre Massé – Classica magazine (France) – May 2014

                Album Choice
“This first volume in Chandos’s ‘Mendelssohn in Birmingham’ series suggests that Gardner’s cycle of the symphonies will rsank with this of Sawallisch and Abbado…   Gardner drives the outer movements of the ‘Italian’ hard but the CBSO doesn’t sound fazed. And I like the way everything is balanced …”
Christopher Breunig – HI Fi News – 18 April 2014 

                                Performance ****      Recording *****

“Unsurprisingly, the quality of the playing here is very high …”


Roger Nicols – Gramophone magazine – April 2014

 "... production is astonishingly good: the dynamic range, spatial detailing and clarity make for an entralling listening experience, conveying with startling accuracy the natural ambience of the hall itself... Highly recommended, particuarly if you’re keen to experience fresh perspectives on these familiar works."
Michael Jameson - International Record Review - March 2014

“…He [Gardner] characterises the land and seascape of the “Hebrides” Overture with a good ear for storm , surge and serenity,  and the instrumental detail that he elicits is a vital factor, too, in the ‘Reformation’ Symphony. The depth of sonority at the start yields to a powerfully executed first movement, stirring in its drive and drama, with the scherzo light yet firm accent. The music’s essential seriousness, well defined here, contrasts with the airy exuberance of the ‘Italian’ Symphony, crisp, animated, warm and enchanting.”  ****
Geoffrey Norris – The Telegraph – 15 February 2014

                                  Performance ****½             Sonics ****

"...The Hebrides overture is given as good an account as one could wish for; plenty of freshness in the playing of all sections. The string passage work is played very cleanly indeed - all to the musics benefit - and it is apparent from the off that Gardner sought and obtained highly expressive woodwind playing. Gardner also is not frightened of pointing up the Romantic atmosphere; the timpani rolls are marvellously shaped to evoke stormy clouds ..."
John Broggio - SA-CD.net - 1 February 2014

                 Album of the Week
"...He [Gardner] and the Birminghamsters catch the hazy "Scottish" atmosphere of the Hebrides, and he is expansive in the outer movements of the Reformation, with its quotation of the Dresden Amen and Luther;s chorale, Ein feste Burg. The Italian Aymphony is exhilaratingly delivered - with poetic solos in the andante con moto - especially the breathless Saltarello presto finale."
Hugh Canning - The Sunday Times (Culture magazine) - 2 February 2014


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