WORKS: Scottish Symphony; Italian Symphony
PERFORMER: LPO/Franz Welser-Möst
CATALOGUE NO: CDC 7 54263 2 DDD
The slow introduction to this performance of the Scottish Symphony is enormously promising: flexible, rich in sentiment and directed with clear respect for the letter of the score. While Franz Welser-Möst continues to take care over details of dynamics and articulation, much of the rest of the issue is disappointing.
The Allegro un poco agitato, shorn of its exposition repeat, has a mannered opening, although the tuttis do not lack energy. Indeed, there is abundant enthusiasm in this reading, but misdirected towards heartiness rather than charm. More worrying is a recorded balance that favours the strings.While it is good to hear the melodies in the strings, too much of Mendelssohn’s delightful wind writing takes a back seat.
Welser-Möst’s Italian Symphony is more appealing. The opening Allegro vivace is undeniably thrilling and the Minuet has a certain elegance. But on repeated hearings the sforzandi tend to become overpowering and, ultimately, distracting. Those favouring a strong sense of forward motion in such works may enjoy Welser-Möst’s approach, but the price paid is a lack of grace and lightness. Jan Smaczny