It is rather mystifying to understand Cantelli's famous dissatisfaction with
this miraculous 1951 recording of the "Italian', it is to my mind even better
than his later mono remake, with freshness and vitality pungently to the
fore. Tempi are well-nigh ideal especially in the sunnily exuberant First
Movement and the harrowing Andante con moto, a picture postcard of a religious
procession. The Philharmonia play like angels throughout and the 1951 sound
is rather bewildering in its vividness, you could almost mistake it for forty
years later albeit there is some background hiss.
The Brahms Third is more famous, indeed it was briefly available on an EMI
label some years back but the Testament remastering is definitely the clearest
I've heard. Much has been written about this genial performance, it is rather
Klemperer-like in its retrospective beauty although there are none of the
defects that mar that particular recording. Cantelli is akin with Brahms'
mysterious scoring, the slow movement is a real gem and the concluding bars
of that Allegro are wonderfully magical, an almost spiritual touch with the
Philharmonia strings playing like angels led by the redoubtable Manoug Parikian.
As is usual with these splendid reissues, Alan Sanders provides informative
and eminently readable annotation that supplements the finished copy with
aplomb. It is good to have these splendid performances back in the catalogue,
the Mendelssohn is really an artistic treasure recovered from the deep.