- Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 11
- Sinfonia (String Symphony) for string orchestra No. 8 in D major
- Sinfonia (String Symphony) for string orchestra No. 13 in C minor (one movt only)
The remarkable string of recordings released by conductor Thomas Fey and his Heidelberger Sinfoniker is in no way broken by this Mendelssohn release, which has many of the virtues of Fey's widely hailed recording of the first two Beethoven symphonies. In a way this recording comes as even more of a revelation than Fey's recordings of Haydn and Beethoven works that have of course received other exciting readings -- here Fey brings an intensity to these three youthful Mendelssohn works that many listeners will hardly have suspected was present at all. Here as elsewhere, Fey offers modern-instrument interpretations shaped by his encounter with the historical-performance movement, with a sharp, high-energy approach throughout. The winds and horns are allowed to shine clearly through the texture in the "String Symphony No. 8 in D major," performed in a version (by the young Mendelssohn himself) with wind instruments. This work has often been played as a fragile Mozartian holdover, but here Mendelssohn seems to be a young genius coming fully into possession of his powers for the first time and spilling over the boundaries of the Classical style. Likewise, the single-movement "String Symphony No. 13 in C minor," a slow introduction followed by a triple fugue, seems less an academic exercise than as an early adumbration of Mendelssohn's ambitious romanticization of Bach counterpoint. Fey makes clear the links between Mendelssohn's "Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 11" (a work not much later than the string symphonies) and the "Symphony No. 5, Op. 67," of Beethoven. Fey's talents and those of his orchestra are a perfect match for the ebullient young Mendelssohn, and the result is what may become a standard recording of this music.