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Mendelssohn: Symphony No 5 'Reformation'

  • Catalogue Number LSO0775
    UPC 822231177524

    Nicholas Parker producer & editing
    Classic Sound Ltd engineering, mixing & mastering

    1SACD + 1 Pure Audio Blu-ray audio disc

    Recorded live at the Barbican, March & October 2014

    DSD (direct stream digital) recording
    Audio 2.0 Stereo and multi-channel (5.1)
    Notes in English / en français / auf Deutsch

  • Classic FM Drive - Featured Album
    ‘The memorable previous release in the series – Mendelssohn's Scottish Symphony – received widespread, positive acclaim… The winning approach is repeated here…Here, the 'authentic' vibrato-less strings combine with weighty brass and woodwinds to produce a performance that shows off the work's grandeur… The LSO are on top form.’
    Classic FM

    Sound 10 Interpretation 10
    ‘It is not a question here of a simple "replaying", but a new look at works which are often neglected. The work on architecture, combined with a controlled tension make this recording a new exciting version, both in the harmonic design and in the expressiveness of melodic lines… An inspired concert that the listener will be pleased to listen to again many times.’
    Crescendo

    Performance ***** Sonics ****½
    ‘A magnificently invigorating performance thanks to the vitality and crispness of the playing that Gardner elicits from the LSO – heard here at their considerable best… The sound quality on both the SACD and the Blu-ray discs is some of the best I have heard from this source... thanks to Gardiner's antiphonal positioning of the violins, details are heard that many other versions fail to capture…Very highly recommended.’
    SA-CD.net

    Performance **** Recording **** ‘There's much to savour in Gardiner's urgently driven account of Ruy Blas, and the vibrato-less string passage that opens Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage is simply spellbinding, reminding us of the wizardry and phenomenal aural imagination that is ever present in Mendelssohn's orchestration.’
    BBC Music Magazine

    ***** ‘John Eliot Gardiner conducts Mendelsohn Bartholdy’s Fifth Symphony with such an edgy sound… Outstanding.’
    Münchner Merkur

    ****1/2 ‘This is a fantastic recording of Symphony No 5. The orchestra plays in a lean and transparent fashion but with enormous energy at the same time. The finale sounds archaic, baroque – and yet immensely romantic.’
    Kronenzeitung

    **** ‘John Eliot Gardiner with the LSO brings pace, clarity and flaming-eyed conviction to the performance… The overtures Ruy Blas and Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage make well-contrasted fillers, the one blazing with drama, the other gliding in still as a mill pond.’
    Financial Times

    *** ‘A Ruy Blas Overture as riveting as the Hebrides Overture was on their previous release. It’s an imposing, on-your-feet delivery.’
    Sinfini

    ‘Sir John Eliot Gardiner's new recording of Mendelssohn's Reformation Symphony with the London Symphony Orchestra is absolutely startling… Gardiner has taken a completely fresh and forensic look at the music, and has virtually reinvented the symphony. It blazes anew: it's as simple and complex, as direct and sophisticated, as that. There's not a breath, a phrase, a dynamic or a strand in the texture that has not been scrutinised and grilled as to its function, purpose and place in the music. And the whole damn thing bursts into flaming life… The LSO, here, is the best period band in the world...’
    Herald Scotland

    ‘This is something close to the ideal Gardiner experience… Partnered by the London Symphony Orchestra at its most lithe and virtuosic, Gardiner makes Mendelssohn’s Ruy Blas overture and Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage fizz with excitement, while the Symphony No 5, the Reformation, has no room for stolid sermonising as it practically races to the chorale finale, with some remarkable finesse in the dynamics along the way.’
    The Times

    ‘It’s a powerful reading [of the Reformation Symphony], solidly argued, often exciting and vividly played… a generally excellent recording.’
    Gramophone

    ‘The London Symphony performances, crisp and driving, are attractive and satisfying.’
    New York Times

    ‘Vibrant performances, very well played… This is some of the finest audio from the venue.’
    Classical CD Review

    ‘[Sir John Eliot Gardiner] is in great shape, incisive and energetic, able to carry out phrasing and instrumental textures with greatly refined finishing touches… Obviously enjoyable.'
    Audiophile Alerts

    ‘Gardiner conducts this symphony with such a sense of inevitability that we would not imagine it could be done otherwise.’
    Audio Video Club of Atlanta

    ‘Listeners interested in the application of historical-performance principles to early Romantic repertory should generally be attracted by this release… Recommended for Gardiner fans.’
    AllMusic

    ‘John Eliot Gardiner has transformed the Reformation Symphony into a Revolution Symphony. “Con fuoco“, he has banished all existing prejudices of Mendelssohn, the “cultivated classicist”… He creates a magnificent orchestral sound space.’
    SWR2

    ‘Gardiner continues to show an affinity for Mendelssohn. This is especially true of the two overtures… The energy Gardiner brings to these performances is infectious.’
    MusicWeb International

    ‘The overtures succeed completely.’
    Der Neue Merker

    ‘A lovely smooth flowing tempo from Sir John Eliot Gardiner… The andante third movement’s lovely; little or no vibrato, another well-paced andante instead of the funereal adagio you’ll sometimes hear… The big chorale in the finale is properly majestic with a fine wind choir doing its best impression of an organ… This new one won’t let you down.’
    BBC Radio 3 CD Review

    ‘It showcases Gardiner’s forensic method of working and his very good relationship with the LSO. The two overtures are extremely successful… Ruy Blas is bitingly dramatic… Calm Sea, on the other hand, opens with a brilliant depiction of musical stasis… The blaze of the final peroration [in Symphony No 5] is thrilling, and Gardiner manages to give the impression that it shouldn’t really sound any other way.’
    MusicWeb International

    ‘The result is a very lean Mendelssohn sound, which seems to place the composer next to Mozart as he comes across so shimmering and light-hearted.’
    Die Rheinpfalz

    ‘The lively live recording awakens the spirit of the upcoming outdoor season.’
    Preußische Allgemeine Zeitung

£8.39 £11.99

Sir John Eliot Gardiner, 
London Symphony Orchestra


Watch the video trailer

Sir John Eliot Gardiner and the London Symphony Orchestra join forces once again in the latest instalment of their exploration of Mendelssohn’s symphonies.

Mendelssohn’s Symphony No 5, commonly known as the ‘Reformation’ Symphony, was 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 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.


Composer   Mendelssohn
Conductor   Sir John Eliot Gardiner
Performers   London Symphony Orchestra

Track list
1. Overture: Ruy Blas
2. Overture: Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage
3. Symphony No 5, 'The Reformation': i. Andante - Allegro con fuoco
4. Symphony No 5, 'The Reformation': ii. Allegro vivace
5. Symphony No 5, 'The Reformation': iii. Andante
6. Symphony No 5, 'The Reformation': iv. Choral: Ein' feste Burg ist unser Gott: Andante con moto - Allegro vivace - Allegro maestoso


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