News – LSO Live


Mendelssohn Symphony No 4, released exclusively on Classical Live, Google Play June 15 2015

The London Symphony Orchestra is taking part in a brand new partnership to launch the inaugural phase of Classical Live, the first and only initiative offering up-to-date recordings on Google Play Music.

Through the global reach of Google Play Music, Classical Live aims to broaden the audience for classical recordings by expanding the base of fans who will discover these new recordings through both digital downloads and streaming subscription in all 58 countries where the service is available, at

LSO Live presents Mendelssohn Symphony No 4, exclusively on Classical Live, Google Play, as well as Mendelssohn Symphony No 5.

Mendelssohn’s Symphony No 4 was inspired by the composer’s tour of Italy in the autumn of 1830. Having visited Venice, Florence and Rome, Mendelssohn began work on a symphony which would celebrate the sights and sounds of the south. The result was a work which is full of the colour and atmosphere of Italy, described by the composer himself as ‘the jolliest piece I’ve written so far.’

Sir John Eliot Gardiner says of the piece, 'Mendelssohn threw everything, in terms of virtuosity and risk-taking, at the Italian Symphony and it’s remained incredibly popular... Following in his footsteps the violins and the violas stand for this performance. It gives a different type of dynamism and energy... it means that the fiddles are freer in the way that they attack the extremely virtuosic lines and it gives a tremendous sense of occasion to the music making.'

Reviews of the concert performance praised Sir John Eliot Gardiner and the LSO’s exhilarating interpretation of the symphony.

***** ‘The finale a whirling, impossibly fast ride from explosive beginning to punchy finish. The LSO players rose to it all.’ The Guardian

***** ‘The orchestral textures were clarified to startling effect.’ The Times

**** ‘The performance of Mendelssohn’s “Italian” Symphony No 4 was like a joyous high-speed rail journey around the country, taking in sun-soaked landscapes, an upbeat pilgrims’ march, and a scalding saltarello that truly felt like a dance to the death.’ Financial Times

**** ‘This reading of the Italian exploited the exhilarating athleticism of the first movement and the frenzied Neapolitan dance rhythms of the saltarello finale.’ Evening Standard

Watch the trailer


Also available on Classical Live, Google Play is Mendelssohn’s Symphony No 5, written in 1830 to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the Augsberg confession – a seminal event in the Protestant Reformation. Allusions to the symphony’s title, ‘Reformation’ and inspiration can be heard throughout the music itself; the Dresden Amen is cited by the strings in the first movement whilst the finale is based on Martin Luther’s well-known chorale Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott (‘A Mighty Fortress is Our God’).

Coupled with this are two of Mendelssohn’s overtures, Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage and Ruy Blas, both of which were inspired by literary works. Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage, based on two short poems by Goethe, depicts the journey of sailors at sea with a still adagio opening ultimately giving way to a triumphant homecoming. Completing the album, the overture Ruy Blas was commissioned by the Leipzig Theatre as an overture to Victor Hugo’s tragic drama of the same name.

The concerts of Mendelssohn Symphony No 5 were received with great acclaim.

***** ‘The overture to Ruy Blas was ebullient but nuanced… The LSO players rose to it all – this was no imitation period band, but a modern orchestra responding brilliantly and unapologetically to a famously demanding conductor.’ The Guardian

***** ‘Felix Mendelssohn, the cosseted wunderkind celebrated for his elegance and limpidity, was remade as a Gothic hero in John Eliot Gardiner’s exhilarating performance of the Ruy Blas overture… The orchestral textures were clarified to startling effect.’ The Times

**** ‘Gardiner’s Mendelssohn with the LSO packs a surprisingly hefty punch.’ Evening Standard

‘Gardiner reserved vibrato for the faster section [of Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage], which erupted with bubbling, vivacious energy...The fearsome power which Gardiner and the LSO wrought in the [Fifth Symphony’s] first movement’s development was carried over into the scherzo, instilling the latter with considerable vigour and weight… There was no mistaking the fervour and grandeur of the fugal development of the Lutheran chorale "Ein feste Burg" in the finale, concluding the performance with impressive gravitas.’ Classical Source

Digital Theatre February 09 2015

You can now watch a selection of LSO concerts from the comfort of your own home thanks to’s London Symphony Orchestra Collection.

What is Digital Theatre?

Digital Theatre is the world’s biggest on demand platform specialising in delivering arts content. The team at Digital Theatre film, acquire and distribute the very best in captured live entertainment, working in partnership with Britain’s leading arts companies, including the LSO. Digital Theatre aims to make the arts accessible to all, regardless of geographical, social or economic boundaries. The use of multiple camera angles and high-definition technology ensures that the drama and emotion of each production isn’t lost, allowing for a fully immersive and authentic experience. Each production is available to rent online for a limited period or can be downloaded to your desktop and enjoyed as many times as you wish.

The London Symphony Orchestra Collection

There are currently three concerts available to download from Digital Theatre’s London Symphony Orchestra Collection (with more to come later this year), each captured live in HD at the Barbican.

The LSO’s latest release on Digital Theatre is an all-Berlioz programme of Symphonie fantastique, Overture: Waverley & Les nuits d'été, conducted by LSO Principal Conductor Valery Gergiev. The timeless Symphonie fantastique, considered to be one of the most important classical works ever written, was inspired by Berlioz’s own turbulent personal life and tells the story of an artist’s ‘hopeless love’, complete with waltzes, witches and a hallucinogenic nightmare. The grand overture Waverley was inspired by Sir Walter Scott’s novel Waverley and for Berlioz’s song cycle, Les nuits d'été (‘Summer Nights’), Gergiev and the LSO are joined by Scottish mezzo-soprano Karen Cargill. Made up of six songs, the work is an anatomy of romantic love, shown in different aspects: light-hearted and extrovert in the first and last songs, more intense and passionate in the middle four.

Also available is Berlioz’s Romeo and Juliet, conducted by Valery Gergiev and recorded live at the Barbican in November 2013. Shakespeare was one of the enduring influences on Berlioz throughout his life and the composer described his first encounter with one of Shakespeare’s works (Hamlet, featuring Berlioz’s future wife Harriet Smithson) as a ‘thunderbolt’ that changed his life – and musical imagination – forever. In Romeo and Juliet, Berlioz gives his own ground-breaking take on Shakespeare’s bittersweet tragedy, combining the playwright’s influence with the all the musical drama of Beethoven’s symphonies, and adding solo voices and chorus into the mix. 

Another concert currently available on Digital Theatre is Mendelssohn's Symphony No 3 'Scottish', Overture: The Hebrides and Schumann's Piano Concerto with the celebrated pianist Maria João Pires. Conducted by Sir John Eliot Gardiner, this concert was filmed in January 2014 as part of a series exploring the works of Felix Mendelssohn. Inspired by his travels to the British Isles and full of the influence of the rolling Scottish landscape, both Mendelssohn’s Symphony No 3 'Scottish' and his Overture: The Hebrides are amongst the composer's most popular and admired works. The London Symphony Orchestra give an exhilarating performance of these pieces, and the same can be said of their rendition of the much-loved Schumann Piano Concerto with Maria João Pires, which has received widespread critical acclaim.

How to download and watch the concerts

Each concert can be bought for £10.99 (High Definition) or £8.99 (Standard Definition), as well as being available to rent for just £3.99 (rented productions are made available in your library for 30 days with 48 hours to complete viewing from the first time you begin playback).

Once downloaded, there are a variety of ways in which the concerts can be watched:

  • Watch online directly through the website.
  • Download to your desktop and watch offline with the Digital Theatre Desktop Player.
  • Download the Digital Theatre app from the iTunes App Store and stream to your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch.
  • Watch on a Samsung Smart TV using the Digital Theatre app.