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CD review: Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra/ Heras Casado, Mendelssohn Symphony no 2: Lobgesang

Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra/ Heras Casado

Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra/ Heras Casado

Mendelssohn Symphony no 2: Lobgesang (Harmonia Mundi)

Now here is a belter of a recording and a cracker of a conundrum. Mendelssohn's Second Symphony, titled Lobgesang, is a hybrid piece. It needs a full orchestra with trombones, chorus, and two and a bit soloists: one tenor, one full-time soprano, and another part-time soprano. It is stuffed with glorious choruses, melodious solos and rivetingly concise recitatives. So to what species does it belong? Is it a symphony? An oratorio? Or a cantata with symphonic elements? Or a mish mash? Several things are for sure: it's very seldom played, and it's not even his Second Symphony. (There are few things in western classical music so screwed up as the numbering system of Mendelssohn's five symphonies.) Set that aside for now and just take this blazingly convincing performance of the Second Symphony, with the great Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra at its best under the direction of young Spanish genius Pablo Heras Casado, as the supremely authoritative vision that it is.

Michael Tumelty

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