John Eliot Gardiner / London Symphony Orchestra

Mendelssohn: Symphony No. 1; Symphony No. 4 'Italian'

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John Eliot Gardiner is famous for his period-style interpretations of the classics, and his ear-opening recordings have been praised for their high energy, brisk tempos, textural clarity, and authentic tone colors. Those characteristics are abundantly apparent in Gardiner's recordings of Felix Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 1 in C minor and the Symphony No. 4 in A major, "Italian," recorded in concert in 2016 and 2014, respectively. Audiophiles have their choice of formats in this combo package from LSO Live, a Blu-ray disc and a hybrid SACD, so the London Symphony Orchestra's splendid sound can be appreciated on either kind of equipment, and the hybrid SACD can be played on a standard CD player. Also of interest to collectors is the inclusion of Mendelssohn's original third movement for the 1824 version of the Symphony No. 1, a minuet, and the Scherzo from the 1829 London version. The playing is quite vivid and crisp throughout, and Gardiner's urgency translates into fiery expressions, most notably in the Saltarello of the "Italian," which is one of the fastest on record. Traditionalists may balk, but connoisseurs of historically informed performances will relish the excitement of Gardiner's readings, and feel invigorated by these astonishing performances.

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