This release from the London Symphony Orchestra's LSO Live series features a program that the orchestra must have played hundreds of times over its long history: Mendelssohn's well-loved Symphony No. 3 in A minor, Op. 56 ("Scottish"), and Hebrides Overture, Op. 26, with the Schumann Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 54, in between. There are substantial attractions, but they don't necessarily come where some think they might. What truly sets this recording apart is the extraordinarily graceful performance of the Schumann by Portuguese (and now Brazilian) pianist Maria João Pires, with the LSO keeping itself carefully subordinated to her unusually quiet performance. This is worth the price of admission, and it's very well captured by the orchestra's engineering team, who seem to get better and better with each subsequent release working in the Barbican concert hall. If you're expecting a historical-performance recording of the Mendelssohn orchestra standards from Gardiner, you don't get one. There's a general orientation toward transparency, and the string players stand up in the "Scottish" symphony (there is an accompanying Blu-Ray disc), but the performances are straightforward, and especially in the symphony a bit dutiful. Recommended especially for the loveliest Schumann piano concerto to come along in quite some time.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 54|
|Symphony No. 3 in A minor, Op. 56 'Scottish'|