Thursday, April 20, 2017

Franz Schubert; Felix Mendelssohn - Symphonies (Giuseppe Sinopoli)


Composer: Franz Schubert; Felix Mendelssohn
  1. Symphony No. 8 in B minor, D. 759 - "Unfinished": 1. Allegro moderato
  2. Symphony No. 8 in B minor, D. 759 - "Unfinished": 2. Andante con moto
  3. Symphony No. 4 in A major, Op. 90 - "Italian": 1. Allegro vivace
  4. Symphony No. 4 in A major, Op. 90 - "Italian": 2. Andante con moto
  5. Symphony No. 4 in A major, Op. 90 - "Italian": 3. Con moto moderato
  6. Symphony No. 4 in A major, Op. 90 - "Italian": 4. Saltarello (Presto)

Philharmonia Orchestra
Giuseppe Sinopoli, conductor
Date: 1983
Label: Deutsche Grammophon (1994 reissue)



Intensely revealing, exhilarating and refreshing interpretations of two oft-heard masterpieces.

Giuseppe Sinopoli makes an auspicious choice of repertory for this, his first recording with the orchestra of which he is now Principal Conductor... Sinopoli directs readings which in almost every bar call attention to unexpected points. Undoubtedly they will be controversial, both in the interpretative style and often in the very choice of speeds. What for me makes both performances intensely revealing, exhilarating and refreshing is the extraordinary intensity which compels attention from the very first note. Some may find the moulding of the great second subject theme on the cellos in the Unfinished too calculated. I myself feel that he moulds too much in the very slow account of the third movement of the Italian, but there for me it is an exception to feel resistance. Elsewhere the glow of commitment alongside such playing as this is so intense that I relish to the full the new experience Sinopoli is providing...

Sinopoli's view of the Unfinished, from the menacing pianissimo of the opening motif onwards, makes the point strongly that this is a progress from darkness to light. The tragedy of the B minor first movement could hardly be contrasted more strongly against the ethereal glow of fulfilment in the second. The contrasting moods of the Italian Symphony are sharply etched too. In the first movement Sinopoli but unlike most rivals he sacrifices neither clarity, precision nor detail with delectable pointing in the rapid triplets and with subtle phrasing and shading of dynamic to match even Karajan (DG) at his slower speed. Both the middle two movements find Sinopoli adopting slow speeds and moulded phrasing, with the Pilgrims' March made weighty and melancholy in its beauty, the third movement bringing fairyland horn calls in the Trio. The final Saltarello is bitingly brilliant with Sinopoli at the end emphasizing in a final thrust Mendelssohn's refusal to allow the minor key to resolve into the major, leaving a bitter tang. [4/1984]

-- Edward Greenfield, Gramophone

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Franz Schubert (31 January 1797 – 19 November 1828) was an Austrian composer who was extremely prolific during his short lifetime. His output consists of over six hundred secular vocal works (mainly Lieder), seven complete symphonies, sacred music, operas, incidental music and a large body of chamber and piano music. Today, Schubert is ranked among the greatest composers of the late Classical era and early Romantic era and is one of the most frequently performed composers of the early nineteenth century. His music is characterized by pleasing tunes while still has "a great wealth of technical finesse".


Felix Mendelssohn (3 February 1809 – 4 November 1847) was a German composer, pianist, organist and conductor of the early Romantic period. He was among the most popular composers of the Romantic era. Like Mozart, he was recognized early as a musical prodigy. Mendelssohn enjoyed early success in Germany, where he also revived interest in the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, and in his travels throughout Europe. He was particularly well received in Britain as a composer, conductor and soloist, visited there ten times. His essentially conservative musical tastes, however, set him apart from many of his more adventurous musical contemporaries.


Giuseppe Sinopoli (2 November 1946 – 20 April 2001) was an Italian conductor and composer. Sinopoli studied conducting at the Vienna Academy of Music under Hans Swarowsky, and began to make a name for himself as a composer of serial works. Sinopoli was principal conductor of the Philharmonia (1984-1994) and Staatskapelle Dresden (1992-2001). His conducting was the object of much controversy, especially in the symphonic genre, with some berating the "eccentricity" of his interpretations, while others praised the insightfulness of his often intellectual approach to works.


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