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Mendelssohn: Italian & Reformation Symphonies
     

Mendelssohn: Italian & Reformation Symphonies

by Charles Münch
 
All hail Alsatian conductor Charles Münch! The recordings of French orchestral repertoire he made during his tenure with the Boston Symphony -- his Debussy, his Ravel, and above all his Berlioz -- still stand as the standard recordings of the music. Unfortunately, it was not always so in other

Overview

All hail Alsatian conductor Charles Münch! The recordings of French orchestral repertoire he made during his tenure with the Boston Symphony -- his Debussy, his Ravel, and above all his Berlioz -- still stand as the standard recordings of the music. Unfortunately, it was not always so in other repertoire. Although a conductor with a strong feeling for line, color, and tempo, Münch was not at home in the heartland of Beethoven, Schumann, and Brahms and his Boston recordings of the central European repertoire were heavy-handed and phlegmatic with thick textures, odd balances, and apparently little understanding of the formal issues at stake. In these recordings of Mendelssohn's "Fourth" and "Fifth" symphonies plus the Scherzo from the "Octet" transcribed for orchestra, Münch and the BSO are wonderfully melodic, marvelously colorful, and powerfully driven and if that was all it took to succeed in Mendelssohn, these would be great performances. But Münch's "Italian Symphony" is more smoke than fire and more pasta than sauce: the outer movements smolder rather than blaze and the inner movements are weighty but tasty. And Münch's "Reformation" is more pride than wisdom and more mundane than sublime: the tone is fulsome rather than sincere and the outer movements' extended slow introductions plus the central Andante keep the music firmly earth-bound. The concluding encore of Mendelssohn's own arrangement of his "Octet"'s Scherzo is a lovely little thing, and unchallenged by metaphysical issues, Münch and the BSO shine bright and beautiful -- even if the music does sound more like Ravel than Mendelssohn. RCA's super audio transfers are loud but harsh.

Product Details

Release Date:
02/07/2006
Label:
Rca
UPC:
0828767161624
catalogNumber:
71616
Rank:
40118

Tracks

  1. Symphony No. 4 in A major ("Italian"), Op. 90
  2. Symphony No. 5 in D major/D minor ("Reformation"), Op. 107
  3. Octet for strings in E flat major, Op. 20: III. Scherzo: Allegro leggierissimo

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