Riccardo Muti

Mendelsson: Symphonies 3-5; Overtures

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If you were looking for recordings of Mendelssohn's three best-known symphonies back in the late '70s, would there have been any compelling reason to try these recordings by Riccardo Muti and the New Philharmonia? With competition from the athletic Abbado, the suave Karajan, the doughty Klemperer, the powerful Maag, the weighty Masur, and the sleek Szell, would there have been a compelling reason to try Muti's always dutiful and sometimes credible but not often beautiful and rarely persuasive performances? No, not really: Muti hacks his way through the scores with nothing more than skillful energy and the New Philharmonia blows and saws its way through the music with nothing more than professional commitment. There's no sparkle to the "Italian," no fervor in the "Reformation," and no strength in the "Scottish" -- just practiced competency. The coupling of five overtures led with grit by Moshe Atzmon and played with determination by the New Philharmonia from 1974 adds only playing time to the second disc. EMI's stereo sound is colorful, but a bit harsh and close.

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