Felix Mendelssohn Symphonies Nos. 3 ‘Scottish’ & 4 ‘Italian’
Felix Mendelssohn Symphonies Nos. 3 ‘Scottish’ & 4 ‘Italian’—Freiburg Baroque Orchestra/Pablo Heras-Casado (Harmonia Mundi 902228)
Both of these symphonies—which Mendelssohn himself insisted were ‘pure’ music and not travelogues—nevertheless have origins in the composer’s 1829-1831 tour of Europe. The Symphony No.3, called the ‘Scottish’, despite the composer’s protests, was inspired by a visit to the ruined Holyrood Chapel in Edinburgh in 1829. The hushed gloom of the place haunts the first movement. This Third Symphony of Mendelssohn was not completed until 1842, making it, chronologically, the last of his five symphonies. No. 4, the famous ‘Italian’ symphony, was born of the color and atmosphere of its namesake, and was completed in Berlin in 1833. Both works receive incisive performances from the period instrumentalists of the Freiburg ensemble, with conductor Heras-Casado keeping the tempos brisk and the sound less hard-edged than you might expect.
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