Mendelssohn / Schumann
conducted by Sir John Eliot Gardiner
The London Symphony Orchestra present Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 3 'Scottish' and his Overture: The Hebrides alongside a performance of Schumann's Piano Concerto, featuring Maria João Pires.
Inspired by his travels to the British Isles and full of the influence of the rolling Scottish landscape, both Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 3 'Scottish' and his Overture: The Hebrides are amongst the composer's most popular and admired works. The London Symphony Orchestra create inspiring performances of these pieces, as well as a performance of Schumann's Piano Concerto, featuring the celebrated pianist, Maria João Pires.
The London Symphony Orchestra filmed this concert as part of a series of performances exploring the works of Felix Mendelssohn under the baton of Sir John Eliot Gardiner, who says of this coupling: "Even if they spoke with different accents these genial Romantics were united in their ambitious fervour for 'abstract' music to be acknowledged as having the same expressive force as poetry, drama or the literary novel. The three works exemplify the endeavour and range of invention of two of them, friends and colleagues in Leipzig".
This was the London Symphony Orchestra; but, with violins and violas standing and with a new suppleness and brilliance in their voice, they sounded Romantic and revolutionary. There was a brisk stepping-out, a bracing scent of the tangle o’ the isles, and tiny, drawn-back moments to glimpse the Romantic sublime.
The deep-hued textures of the (Scottish) symphony were offset by robust upper strings, their visceral attack enhanced by having the players standing. There were choppy waters too around Fingal's Cave in Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture. In both, sharply etched articulation made great impact.
Gardiner and the LSO are currently championing Mendelssohn, whose Fingal's Cave and 'Scottish' Symphony are as Caledonian as Parry’s Jerusalem is English, making many a tartan-clad breast heave with misty longings, and both works sounded particularly well bedded in.
The opening of the Intermezzo was supremely graceful with Pires and the LSO’s cellos creating a chamber music intimacy in the ensuing dialogue. The cultivated way in which Pires and the LSO took up and finished phrases was masterful. The finale was a whirling dance with Pires really revving up the momentum while at the same time bringing out the fanciful elements in the score. The coda was played with gusto, bringing the piece to a sparkling conclusion.
Seen and Heard
Captured live at the Barbican, London, in January 2014 and presented as part of the London Symphony Orchestra Collection.
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