One of the most grown-up review sites around
One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here


International mailing

Up to 40% off

  Founder: Len Mullenger


Some items
to consider

Yes we are selling
Acte Prealable again!
£11 post-free

we also sell Skarbo

and Oboe Classics


100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas

Book 1 Book 2 Book3
Mota The Triptych: -Website

WYASTONE releases

The Birth of Rhapsody in Blue
A superlative recreation

such a success

An outstanding performance

make acquaintance without delay

Violin Concerto
This is an impressive disc

Strong advocacy
for a British composer

Piano Music - Martin Jones
agreeably crafted

Piano Music 5CDs

Consistently fine

Rare and interesting repertoire

An excellent introduction

A Celebration on Record

An issue of importance

A splendid disc

both enlightening and rewarding
additional review


alternatively AmazonUK   AmazonUS



Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847)
Symphony No. 3 in A minor Op.56 Scottish [44:16]
Symphony No. 4 in A Op.90 Italian [29:13]
Symphony No. 5 in D Op.107 Reformation [32:06]
New Philharmonia Orchestra/Riccardo Muti
Overtures: The Hebrides Op.26 [9:32]; Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage Op.27 [11:27]; Athalie Op.74 [9:20]; Die Heimkehr aus der Fremde Op.89 [7:48]; Ruy Blas Op.95 [7:28]
New Philharmonia Orchestra/Moshe Atzmon
rec. Kingsway Hall, London 1-2 October 1975 (No 3), 18-19 January 1979 (No 5); No 1 Studio, Abbey Road, London 23 July, 9-10 September 1976 (No 4); 9-11 August 1974 (Overtures)
EMI CLASSICS GEMINI 3 81788 2 [76:27 + 74:52]


Mendelssohnís five symphonies are something of a mixed bag Ė the first is youthful and high-spirited, the second a big choral work. The last three are the essential works and are all very different in character. Collecting them together on a budget label and filling the second disc with overtures would seem to represent a plug at the starter collection market. Certainly I should say straight away that, if you already have satisfactory recordings of these works, there is no reason to add this set, despite its low price. Muti is an enthusiastic guide to the symphonies but, perversely, his Italian symphony is the weakest link. He appears to see this work as being on the same scale as its predecessor and the result is heavy-handed. He is not helped by the recording which was made in a different venue to the other symphonies - see heading for details - and tends to be congested. Interestingly, it has recently been pointed out in the correspondence columns of Gramophone that Boultís last recording of Elgarís first symphony was split between these same two venues and the correspondent thought the sound in the one movement recorded in Kingsway Hall - in same era as these recordings - to be superior. Overall, this is not a patch on DohnŠnyiís 1978 Vienna Philharmonic recording which sparkles brightly throughout albeit lacking the first movement repeat.

If Mutiís readings of Scottish and Reformation symphonies are much nearer the money Ė and sound better Ė I still enjoyed them less than Atzmonís readings of the overtures. Hardly a big name, he seems more sympathetic to Mendelssohnís cause than Muti in delivering generally dramatic and no-nonsense accounts. He was recorded in Abbey Road No. 1 but the sound seems less problematic. The choice of overtures is interesting. It was fair enough not to include A Midsummer Nightís Dream since most collectors will have or want the complete incidental music. The omission of The Fair Melusine is disappointing with Athalie and Die Heimkehr aus der Fremde being rather obscure by comparison. But I cannot imagine anyone is going to buy this primarily for the overtures.

There is no denying that EMIís budget twofer label has some real gems Ė for example Beechamís recordings of Haydnís London symphonies. Selling at well under ten pounds and well-presented, this is a catalogue which is well worth browsing. It might be worth stopping at this point if your shelves are virtually Mendelssohn-free and the budget is tight but otherwise, Ďpass oní would be my advice. Abbadoís 1980s LSO complete symphony set with fillers on 4CDs for DG remains available and costs about two and half times as much. That is surely a better bargain than the present offering and, when it returns, DohnŠnyiís excellent set will also be worthy of consideration.

Patrick C Waller



We are currently offering in excess of 52,000 reviews

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

a vibrant slice of life

stylistically assured

About Every Hill and Valley
Swedish Songs

Hallberg and Dente
interesting and most welcome

An inspired partnership
additional review

A valuable document

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Return to Review Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.