Heinz Holliger / Musikkollegium Winterthur

Felix Mendelssohn: Symphonies Nos. 3 "The Scottish" & 4 "The Italian"

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Rendered with impeccable musicality, Felix Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 3 in A minor, "Scottish," and his Symphony No. 4 in A major, "Italian," are treated in an exemplary manner by Heinz Holliger and the Musikkollegium Winterthur, and recorded with immaculate unprocessed sound by Musikproduktion Dabringhaus und Grimm. This is a high-quality audiophile release that collectors will naturally want to snap up. But anyone who is developing an appreciation for Mendelssohn's music would be well-advised to listen to this multichannel hybrid SACD, not only for the vivid orchestral timbres and spacious natural sound, but also for understanding how the use of historical practices can make the music truly come alive. Holliger keeps the tempos brisk, and even the slow movements move along at a walking pace, with no dragging. The orchestra is also carefully balanced according to Mendelssohn's dynamics, so the levels of color and layers of counterpoint are controlled according to the composer's original specifications. Most importantly, Holliger performs the fascinating second version of the "Italian," instead of the first version that orchestras have always played. This revision is the one Mendelssohn preferred but did not live long enough to publish, and hearing the major and subtle changes in it makes a big difference in deciding which "Italian" belongs in a connoisseur's collection. Without any exceptions, this is one of the finest releases of 2011 and is highly recommended.

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