Mendelssohn symphonies

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RE: Mendelssohn symphonies

Mendelssohn is possibly a composer judged for waht he wasn't rather than what he was.

I feel that he was very much following on in the tradition of Schubert, Hummel and  the like. I enjoy his symphonies - but they have to be enjoyed on their own terms rather than "not quite Beethoven".

The Scottish symphony is the longest of the instrumental symphonies with two part opening and closing movements. It conveys the enjoyment FM must have had from his trip to Scotland. The Italian sparkles the most, and is the shortest. The Reformation was written to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the Augsburg confession and includes the chorale melody "Ein Feste Burg" written by Luther and used by Bach. It's a powerful but solemn work.

The first symphony is good but doesn't stick in my brain quite as much.

The string symphonies are little crackers!

P

RE: Mendelssohn symphonies

Oh btw DF, I am unaware of Mendelssohn ever scoring for bagpipes!

P

RE: Mendelssohn symphonies

phlogiston wrote:

Mendelssohn is possibly a composer judged for waht he wasn't rather than what he was.

The Scottish symphony is the longest of the instrumental symphonies with two part opening and closing movements. It conveys the enjoyment FM must have had from his trip to Scotland. P

I dont think ive ever listened to 'enjoyment FM' but i likes the sound of it. A bit of mendelssohn mixed in with the farming news and the weather report i spose. Hope its berter than classics FM, thaarts not my cuppa tea.

RE: Mendelssohn symphonies

You are a wind up merchant Mr Devon!

P

RE: Mendelssohn symphonies

There is not much I can add to the recommendations above, save to agree that the the octet and piano trios are really wonderful works. I particulalry would recommend the second trio, which has a beautiful scherzo, which to my ears has the same 'sparkle' as is found in the music for a Midsummer Night's Dream, which must be one of the great theatrical scores, (together with Grieg's Peer Gynt and a few others).

Two other suggestions I would offer are the piano music, in particular the Lieder ohne Worte and Variations sérieuses. Finally, there are some beautiful pieces amongst Mendelssohn's various compositions for choir. I cannot claim to have the greatest knowledge of all but one small piece that I enjoy very much is the hymn "Hor mein Bitten". Brilliant produced a set of the complete choral works which is pretty much a bargain (a little like the Brahms set from the same label). If you have spotify and have the time try sampling...

I remember once reading a comment that had Mozart, Beethoven and Mendelssohn (at least I think it was these three!) all died at 21, it would have been Mendlessohn we would have found the most interesting. While we will never know (thankfully, just think of what we would have missed) I rather feel with Mendelssohn, as with his comtemporary Schumann, that much of their best music lay ahead of them. In both cases I feel their last symphonies are their best and sometimes wonder what might have been.

Naupilus

RE: Mendelssohn symphonies

I can see why there is some dispute about this - they were not included in Simon Russel Beale's tour of the symphony on TV. Schumann was another omission. Why?

Why were these omitted in favour of Berlioz and Liszt - neither of whom wrote a numbered symphony?

RE: Mendelssohn symphonies

DarkSkyMan wrote:

I can see why there is some dispute about this - they were not included in Simon Russel Beale's tour of the symphony on TV. Schumann was another omission. Why?

Why were these omitted in favour of Berlioz and Liszt - neither of whom wrote a numbered symphony?

I didn't see the series but in terms of the development of the symphony over the course of the 19th century Berlioz's Symphony Fantastique is a ground breaker, much more so than works by Schumann and Mendelssohn (fantastic as some of them are!). I am always amazed by Berlioz's symphony in terms of the 'modernity' that I hear both in the development of themes and the orchestration. Did they also talk about 'Romeo & Juliette'? I remember a very fun moment from one of Bernstein's lectures where he plays the opening of "Tristan', turns with a wry smile to camera and plays a passage from R&J, almost identical. Naughty Wagner...

The inclusion of Liszt is more puzzling, given both symphonies are less often heard. There is, to my ears at least, a link between Berlioz/Liszt and Mahler that can be made. For me again it is in the 'picture painting' quality of all three, particualrly in the symphonies that have a programme element. There is also the element of the link between all three - Goethe's 'Faust' (although in a different form, Schumann was drawn to the same work). Then again, while not strictly a symphonist, Richard Strauss gave two works (at least I think) the title symphony and Strauss certainly could not have existed without the influence of Berlioz and Liszt.

I guess the problem is always time - a TV series that really covers the symphony would need to be very long indeed. If you just chose the 10 most significant of all time (and that would be another difficult choice) and gave them one show each you would have a series longer than any station seems willing to do today.

Naupilus

RE: Mendelssohn symphonies

Naupilus, since this matter of the inclusion of some composers instead of others in the eventually notorious program on "Symphony" has been extensively discussed in the appropriate thread, I just wish to make a remark on the Bernstein "joke" about Wagner.

With all due respect to late Lenny, I thought he should have mentioned that, in the end, Tristan und Isolde became a monumental work in the entire classical field, while Romeo et Juliette remained a nice, good, substantive orchestral work by Berlioz. Wagner was this kind of music master that he could transform, incorporate and elevate his influences much further than the original. So, the opening of Tristan is a signature point of reference in Wagner's music at least, while the respective passage of Romeo got away somewhere in the entire score.

Parla

RE: Mendelssohn symphonies

Parla

 

I am not sure if you have seen the clip I mentioned but I don't think Bernstein was making a joke. Rather I think he was just saying (and here I could be wrong, as it is a long time since I saw the clip) that the famous chord had ancestors. Undoubtedly Wagner did indeed do something genuinely (and magnificently) original with a chord that to this day is endlessly examined - such is genius. But we all, 'stand on the shoulders of giants', to quote another genius, Sir Isaac Newton. Or as Picasso put it, 'Bad artists copy, Good artists steal'. And before anybody thinks I am saying that Wagner (or any other artist) is guilty of stealing or plagiarism look to the comparative Picasso makes.

Naupilus

RE: Mendelssohn symphonies

Fair enough, Naupilus.

I don't have to go to Picasso to understand what you meant, but, you see Wagner is my soft spot. I have a huge appreciation for his music and enormous admiration for Tristan und Isolde, which I believe is the one of the very few monumental works of the whole output of Classical Music, while Wagner is a composer beyond any proportion, measure or even perception.

Thanks for the clarification,

Parla

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