was not yet a teenager when he began writing his symphonies for
string orchestra as composition lessons for his teacher Carl Friedrich
Zelter. That a mere child could produce music of such charm and
refinement is indeed amazing, but then again, most everything
came easily for this Mozart of the Romantic era. I have opined
before in these virtual pages that Mendelssohn was the greatest
melodist of the nineteenth century. These charming and witty pieces
serve to further reinforce my opinion.
are works that only the dourest could not enjoy. Just about every
serious record collector should have at least one disc of these
little gems in his collection. But one would do well to avoid
pressed for a general reaction to these performances, mine would
have to be "What’s the rush?" Concerto Köln seem
to be in a blind panic as they whiz through this music at a dizzying
pace. The intended result, of course, is for the listener to be
bowled over by this ensemble’s virtuosity. Alas, they do not possess
enough of it to pull off their own tempo choices. Elegant lines
become shapeless blurs, counterpoint from the inner voices is
lost, and cadences seldom settle. Because of this grand prix
mindset, the playing is often just plain sloppy, with the
players simply unable to execute the notes cleanly
so many "early music" ensembles seem to think that everyone
who wrote music before 1900 was late for his wedding is beyond
me. Goodness, it took as long as three days travel to attend a
live concert in Mendelssohn’s day. Something tells me that once
one arrived, one expected to get a fairly large dose of entertainment.
At the speeds applied here you could get through fifteen works
in a couple of hours.
movements fare a bit better, but I could not help but feel that
all of the pathos had been removed from them, and that we were
left with some sterile, albeit pretty, harmonious segments. If
attention was being paid to any kind of a singing line, it was
lost on me.
is nothing wrong with Teldec’s sound quality, and although the
packaging is pretty generic, the notes are adequate and in multiple
languages. So what to do? This is obviously a reissue, and so
it is most likely inexpensive. That is a plus. And, if you are
a fan of fellows like Roger Norrington, who seem to feel that
all music, regardless of style should sound like Vivaldi, well
then this might be a disc you would enjoy. As for me, however,
I think that I would be willing to shell out the big bucks for
the complete set of the string symphonies as performed by the
Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. If money is a concern, Naxos has a
set that although not sine qua non is still pretty darned
good and certainly worth the investment of seven dollars a disc.
as though I have been on a bit of a negative roll of late, but
this disc does not impress me, and I cannot recommend it in good
faith to our loyal readership.