Monday, April 30, 2012

Christoph Von Dohnányi – Mendelssohn’s Complete Symphonies

As many early romantic composers, Felix Mendelssohn was remaining in the circle of classical forms and meanings of expression he used were related to this approach. Among many different forms, construction of symphony was most closely linked to classical idea of balance between form and essence. Mendelssohn was talented composer so among his rich and varied creative output special position have symphonies. He achieved outstanding results as composer in any of his five symphonies. He was also prolific composer of every romantic kind of musical form; he also made great contribution in cyclical forms like oratorios and cantatas – both religious and secular. He was also known from his activity for restoring the proper position of works by Johann Sebastian Bach.
Mendelssohn’s cycle of five full-scale symphonies is not homogenous work. First Symphony in C Minor he wrote in 1824 when he was 15 years old.  In fact, this moment he had cycle of twelve symphonies for string orchestra he wrote 2 years earlier, but this was only juvenile output. Next symphony Felix Mendelssohn wrote 5 years later for the 300th Anniversary of the Lutheran Church, but he was not satisfied with the result and didn’t allow publishing the score. This symphony is known as Reformations-Symphonie op. 107 or as Symphony No. 5 in D Minor.  Next two symphonies became very popular, these are Scottish Symphony op. 56 (No. 3 in A Minor) and Symphony No. 4 in A Major, widely known as Italienische. Last of his works in this form is Symphony No. 2 in B-flat Major “Lobgesang” composed for Leipzig celebrations of 400th anniversary of printing press. Construction of this work has been derived from Beethoven’s idea of oratorio symphony what made it enjoyed considerable recognition. Mendelssohn defined the work as Symphonie-Kantate nach Worten der Heiligen Schrift. Sinfonia is part of actually three movements played attacca Allegro, Scherzo and Adagio. After 25 minutes of instrumental Sinfonia next 40 minutes is filled by 10 movements with two sopranos, tenor and choir. 

Christoph Von Dohnányi – Mendelssohn’s Complete Symphonies (1986)

One of best edition of Mendelssohn’s symphonies is album Sämtlichen Symphonien (Complete Symphonies) published is three-record set pressed in 1986 by Decca (No 6.35700) in Direct Metal Mastering technology. In addition to five symphonies publishers included some symphonic fragments playing role of encores. Performances featuring Wiener Philharmoniker conducted by Christoph Von Dohnányi were made in the period of four years – in 1977 symphonies No. 1 and No. 5, in 1978 Symphony No. 2 , in 1979 Symphony No. 4, overtures “Die Hebriden” op. 26 and “Meeresstille und glückliche Fahrt” op. 27 and in 1980 Symphony No. 3 and Kriegsmarsch der Priester op. 74. Symphony No. 2 features sopranos Sona Ghazarian and Edita Gruberova, tenor Werner Krenn, organist Josef Böck and Chor der Wiener Staatsoper.
In artistic and organizational sense this edition was tremendous undertaking and effect is really astonishing. The main advantage of complete publications is easy access to any of the works, playing the role of specific documentary. It happens that such projects also have artistic value, trying to capture the style of the composer in the context of changing formal solutions. Such is the case. Christoph Von Dohnányi is one of greatest conductors in last decades of 20th century. The fact he never became a celebrity means only he was too much work to do, to become media personality. He was working with many orchestras, but pinnacle of his career was eighteen years of leading Cleveland Orchestra. It was probably his most competitive work and outstanding achievement of this artist. His achievements were often overlooked by reviewers who still remember the founder of the Cleveland Orchestra, Georg Shell. From this period comes the saying “We give a great concert...and George Szell gets a great review”. But talking about Mendelssohn Complete Symphonies he can’t say so. These recordings were made before he worked for Cleveland Orchestra and remain one of artist’s great attainments.

No comments:

Post a Comment