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Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847)
String Symphonies

Symphony No. 12 in G minor
Symphony No.1 in C major
Symphony No.7 in D minor
Symphony No.4 in C minor
Symphony No.6 in E flat major
Concerto Köln
Recorded at Studio Deutschland Radio, Cologne, Germany. November 1995
ELATUS 2564-60353-2.
[67.46]


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Few composers, even the precocious young W.A.Mozart, reached musical maturity with greater speed and confidence sooner than Mendelssohn. The first six String Symphonies were written in a single year when he was 14 years old and the remaining six completed two years later. In all of them the influence of C.P.E.Bach, then highly respected in Germany as a master of early Classical forms, is evident. Yet, as a schoolboy, Mendelssohn shows the inventiveness and technical confidence that carried him forward to an illustrious, though sadly short, career as a leading European composer. Even more remarkable, despite their formal structure is the blossoming of the melodic and harmonic gifts he was to show in his five great symphonies. These works are not in any sense student compositions or pastiches, but adventurous essays in what was, for Mendelssohn, a new and flexible idiom, and the Concerto Köln (presumably without a conductor, since none is mentioned) treats them as such. No. 7 from the second set is ample evidence that Mendelssohn was not only relishing his craft, but also anticipating the inventive imagination that marks his later works.

Concerto Köln gives a lively, disciplined performance with careful attention to the early classical style reminiscent of C.P.E.Bach’s Hamburg Symphonies, rising effortlessly to the lyricism of the more romantic slow movements. Tempi are brisk, though not uncomfortably so. Together with the vivacity and technical accomplishment of the fugal passages it all adds up to a most attractive disc. It would be a mistake to regard these early works as curiosities.

Roy Brewer

 



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