Mendelssohn: Scottish Symphony; Italian Symphony

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Mendelssohn
LABELS: EMI
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.

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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.

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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