Concerto Köln

Mendelssohn: String Symphonies Nos. 8, 9 & 10

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The Mendelssohn represented on this disc is not the sort of Mendelssohn to appeal to your grandmother. This Mendelssohn is the teenage Mendelssohn: precociously brilliant, more than a little cocky, and all but ready to take on the symphony, the biggest of instrumental forms. That's understandable since Mendelssohn was then a young prodigy on the verge of becoming a genius, and the three string symphonies on this disc are among the ripest of his juvenilia. The Eighth in D major and the Ninth in C minor are big, four-movement works lasting nearly half an hour each, while the Tenth in B minor is an intense, single-movement Adagio-Allegro work lasting a bit less than 10 minutes. The conductorless Concerto Köln, refugees from the reportedly dictatorial Musica Antiqua Köln, perform with energy, insight, and strength. And though the historically informed performance practice approach, with its emphatic dynamic accents and near total lack of vibrato, may put off listeners accustomed to modern instrument performances, the German group's fervor, intensity, and rhythmic vivacity may more than compensate. Recorded in 1991 and re-released here un-remastered, Teldec's sound is nevertheless bright, crisp, clean, and immensely present.

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