Mendelssohn: Symphonies Nos. 3 & 5

Andrew Litton / Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra

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Mendelssohn: Symphonies Nos. 3 & 5 Review

by James Leonard

Andrew Litton and the Bergen Philharmonic have convincingly demonstrated in the two earlier releases in their series of the symphonies of Felix Mendelssohn that they are true believers. The question is whether they can make true believers of their listeners. Litton and the Norwegian orchestra truly, deeply, profoundly believe in the composer's symphonies, and they continue to affirm their faith in this coupling of the Third and Fifth. The performance of the Third, the "Scottish," is strong and stormy, with robust themes, muscular rhythms, and firm forms, while the Fifth, the "Reformation," is strong and stately, with noble themes, sturdy rhythms, and solid structures. Though dedicated to the cause, these efforts may not be fully persuasive for everyone. Some listeners may find the committed accounts welcome antidotes to, for example, the pompous performances by Herbert von Karajan and the Berliner Philharmoniker. Others may find these readings merely dutiful, and hardly comparable to truly great accounts like Peter Maag's or Otto Klemperer's. BIS' super audio sound is crisp and vivid.

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