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.
“This large-scale live recording (Gardiner's second) was made in Venice's St Mark's Basilica. It captures the drama as well as the ceremonial aspect of the work, despite sometimes cloudy recorded sound.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide. “Gardiner's second [recording of the Vespers], spectacularly recorded live in St Mark's, has a punchy choral sound, near-operatic solo singing (Bryn Terfel and Alistair Miles are among the basses), emphatic enunciation, big contrasts and deliberate exploitation of the building's spaces. Its outright theatricality sets it apart from other performances.” Gramophone Magazine.
Reedition bienvenue avec un exellent son remastérisé de cette trés belle version de Gardiner d'un oratorio de Handel qui est une oeuvre singuliere au sein de la production de ce grand compositeur. L'Allegro, il Pensiero ed il Moderato est dans sa structure trés different de l'oratorio traditionnel et consiste en un assemblage assez libre de solos et de choeurs, mettant en scene 3 personnages allegoriques , un peu comme "il trionfo del tempo", mais chaque" personnage" est ici representé par plusieures voix. Exellent casting choisi par Gardiner au niveu des voix, d'ou emerge Patricia Kwella, dont la beauté et la pureté du timbre illumine cette tres belle oeuvre, proposée a un prix trés doux, aucune raison de passer à coté.
It is an oft-repeated saw, about life in the heavenly spheres, that the angels revere Bach but listen to Mozart. If they have DVD players, you can bet they're now watching this stunning production of Le Nozze di Figaro ("The Marriage of Figaro"), which comes about as close to Mozartian perfection as one could possibly hope to get. The faultlessly cast youthful performers bubble with infectious energy. Alison Hagley is a sprightly Susanna with a voice as clear as a bell, and brilliantly matched by a 28-year-old Bryn Terfel both acting and sounding in fine form. Hillevi Martinpelto demonstrates why she is one of the world's favourite Mozart singers with her melting tones, richly coloured voice and generous stage presence, and Rodney Gilfry gives a muscular, wonderfully controlled performance as the Count.
When this staging was presented in 1992, in various theatres, Gardiner decided to be his own director because he didn't trust any available alternative to be faithful to Da Ponte's and Mozart's original. In the circumstances his was a sensible decision because his deeply discerning stage interpretation perfectly seconds his own musically perceptive reading. His keen understanding of what this endlessly fascinating work is about is made plain in his absorbing essay in the booklet.