Concert Reviews | CD Reviews | DVD Reviews | Opera | Early Music | News | Film | Art | Books | Kids


Dip Your Ears, No. 159 (Praise for the Lobgesang)

available at Amazon
F.Mendelssohn-B., Symphony No.2, Vriend / The Netherlands SO / Consensus Vocalis
J.v.Wanroij, M.Baumans), P.Henckens
Challenge SACD

Mendelssohn Worthy A Hymn of Praise

Musicologists have considered Mendelssohn’s Second Symphony (actually his last) misshapen; a lopsided creature for its elaborate hymn of a choral finale that is bigger than the first three movements together. Perhaps I’m contrarian, but I love this harmonically most daring of his symphonies the best of the lot of five, whatever its shape. I can’t help but whistle and sing every of the catchy themes along. But it’s a tricky symphony to perform and I’m picky about performances. Astoundingly, Jan Willem de Vriend, his Netherlands Symphony Orchestra, and cast of unknown singers easily draw level with the best (Dohnanyi on Decca and Karajan on DG), passing even Frieder Bernius (Carus) in their wake, thanks to the orchestral lushness which befits this works so well and which Bernius’ Bremen Chamber Philharmonic cannot, for all its qualities, provide.

One unedited cracked horn-figure reveals the live source of the recording(s), but if anything it indicates the loving passion with which the performers dig into the work. The soloists are to fall in love with. The “Lobgesang” Symphony is a very different animal from the rest, but if this first volume of a projected cycle is any indicator at all, de Vriend’s Mendelssohn Symphonies are going to be an exciting prospect, indeed!