- The Hebrides, overture for orchestra in B minor ("Fingal's Cave"), Op. 26 (09:53)
Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 11
Symphony No. 4 in A major ("Italian"), Op. 90
Internal alarms should probably go off anytime you pick up an album that doesn't allow you to see what the orchestra is performing until after you've bought it and opened it. In the case of this RCA album of Mendelssohn's "First" and "Fourth" symphonies, we have a re-release (originally on the Arte Nova label in 1995) of the London Festival Orchestra conducted by its founder, Ross Pople. While Pople and the LFO are not a total blindside to unsuspecting listeners, the performances heard on this album definitely do not live up to the accolades RCA printed on the jacket. For starters, the LFO is a much smaller orchestra than listeners might expect and the sound reflects this. The slightly less powerful sound is more acceptable in the very early "First Symphony," but by the time listeners reach the fervor and intensity of the "Fourth Symphony," balance issues caused by the insufficient string section become quite obvious. This is most apparent in the basses and cellos, who struggle mightily just to be heard over the brass. Pople's choice of tempos tend to be on the conservative side, particularly in the rather leisurely pace set in the Saltarello of the "Fourth Symphony." Other aspects of the performance are inconsistent, as well, including spotty intonation among the winds, mismatched articulation across the string sections, and occasionally mushy rhythm. While there are far worse recordings of these symphonies on the market, there are also far better, and listeners may wish to pass up this mediocre offering in favor of one of them.
|Label:||Bmg Special Product|