Bright and vigorous but with plenty of grit, these live recordings with Dimitri Mitropoulos leading the Kölner Ründfunk-Sinfonie-Orchester in Mendelssohn's Third and Fifth symphonies are major additions to discographies of both the conductor and the composer. Though they were taped in the late '50s, the sound is remarkably fresh and clear, though somewhat thin. Mitropoulos' trademark muscular rhythms and propulsive tempos are everywhere evident in the 1960 Scottish Symphony, and the Cologne orchestra responds avidly to his powerful gestures. In the 1957 Reformation Symphony, Mitropoulos highlights its dignity and integrity, and the Cologne's performance is as stark and strong as Mendelssohn's Lutheran convictions. These performances are powerful reminders of Mendelssohn's rank among German symphonists and Mitropoulos' rank among 20th century conductors. The encore of Milhaud's transcription of François Couperin's Overture and Allegro from the sonata La Sultane from 1954 is a bit unsteady at first, but quickly finds its legs and drives the work home with characteristic energy through the Allegro's double bars.
AllMusic Review by James Leonard
|Symphony No. 3 in A minor ("Scottish"), Op. 56|
|Symphony No. 5 in D major/D minor ("Reformation"), Op. 107|
|La Sultane, for 2 violins & continuo|