Touting its status as the oldest chamber orchestra in the United Kingdom and the only one that makes its home in London, the London Chamber Orchestra has been capitalizing on the innovative leadership of music director Christopher Warren-Green since he took the helm in 1988. While the group is just at home performing modern works, its recent string of CD releases in conjunction with Signum Records has focused squarely on the standard repertoire. This installment finds the LCO performing Beethoven's Egmont Overture and Second Piano Concerto (with pianist and director Melvyn Tan) and Mendelssohn's Fourth Symphony. The relatively small chamber produces an impressively robust, powerful sound that is warmed up nicely in the orchestra's traditional venue of St. John's, Smith Square in London. This results in a nice, punchy bass section and timpani throughout the Beethoven, but maybe a bit too boomy and diffuse during the more forceful sections of the Mendelssohn. Beyond this, Warren-Green's shaping of phrasing throughout the Mendelssohn in superb, and the fiery "Saltarello" will have listeners at the edge of their seats. Tan's playing in the Beethoven Second Concerto is delicate, elegant, and pure in tone. The album's jacket and liner notes seem hastily put together, with the disc itself listing a copyright date of 2009, the liner notes 2010, and the cover 20010 (sic); there also seem to be several sentences missing from the middle of the notes' description of the Mendelssohn.
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AllMusic Review by Mike D. Brownell
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