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Constantly in the vanguard of enlightened interpretation, Sir John Eliot Gardiner stands as a leader in today’s musical life. His award-winning Mendelssohn cycle on LSO Live showcases his period performance expertise, the musicians standing to play, highlighting their individual musicianship. As Gardiner explains: ‘It gives a different type of dynamism and energy… it means that the fiddles are freer in the way that they attack the extremely virtuosic lines and it gives a tremendous sense of occasion to the music making.’
Dramatic and harmonically adventurous, Mendelssohn’s First Symphony is presented here in an exceptionally unique format, with both the original and revised versions of the third movement. As Gardiner said when introducing the work in concert:
‘It’s not every evening that you get to hear a symphony by a fourteen-and-a-half year-old genius and there’s an intriguing complication to this piece. When Mendelssohn came to London in 1829, he performed the symphony and he wrote back to his parents saying: “well, I looked over my symphony and, lord, the minuet bored me to tears! So what I did was to take the scherzo from my Octet and I added a few airy trumpets and it sounded lovely.” Well, actually he did an awful lot more than that; he re-orchestrated absolutely brilliantly. And it’s so good, we thought you should hear that version. But what about the minuet and trio? Why, when he came to publish the symphony did he use that version and leave out the scherzo? I happen to think they’re both really remarkable, as is the whole symphony, and perhaps you’d let us know which you prefer…?’
The Fourth Symphony is inspired by the sights, sounds and atmosphere of Italy and is among the best loved of all the composer’s works. Mendelssohn described it as: ‘the jolliest piece I’ve written so far.’ John Eliot Gardiner says of the work: ‘Mendelssohn threw everything, in terms of virtuosity and risk-taking, at the Italian Symphony and it’s remained incredibly popular..