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Netherlands Symphony Orchestra Plays Mendelssohn Symphony

Mendelssohn: Symphony no. 2 'Lobgesang'

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Born into an artistically stimulating environment, Felix Mendelssohn, dead aged 38, might be considered forever youthful. His C minor Symphony, from 1824, is certainly that, a product of his teenage years, and, like the contemporaneous Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the Octet, further testimony to his genius.

The Symphony is energetic, driven along, raging with confidence and full of musical engagement, yet tempered by beauty and elegance. Conductor Jan Willem de Vriend might have been less concerned with halting punctuation in the first movement and with exploiting the trumpets to irritating dominance, but he makes the scherzo-like Minuet into a vital dance, and his attention to detail and dynamics is noteworthy.

Then to the mists and mountains of Scotland – which Mendelssohn knew first-hand (he did a fair amount of travelling during his short life) – that come alive in the Scottish Symphony, full of eloquence, tempest, skirl, wonder, warring clans and final magnificence. Greater vibrato from the strings and a slightly less ambient and reverberant acoustic would have been welcome, but the music is cared for and made potent, Mendelssohn’s imagination and mastery spotlighted. The composer asked for no breaks between movements (to avoid unwanted applause), a request that is honoured here.