Symphony n. 8; Symphony movement in C minor (Masur)

Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra/Masur. Archiv


Of all musical genius, wasn’t Mendelssohn’s the earliest-flowering? Not even Mozart or Schubert wrote so well so young. But after that resplendent blossom the fruit somehow failed to set and ripen as expected. Presumably there was some deficiency in the terrain; or, according to Wagner, at the roots. The content of the orchestral can be analysed to show trace elements absorbed from many cultures, whether literary (Goethe, Shakespeare), religious (Reformation, Lobgesang), national (Italian, Schottisch) or just plain musical (in practice the German Classical tradition). The young symphonist sounds at his best when least derivative; at the end of the Minuet of n. 8 for example, when we hear a personal style emerging from Haydn. Its quality is two-fold, typifying the Mendelssohn of anecdote and iconography; the vigorous physical energy that so impressed Benedict, and the sensuous (and perhaps slightly selfconscious) beauty of form and feature that so impressed Brahms. That dual aspect is well caught in this finely cut and polished renderings; and the promise of the music is even more impressive than its performance.


The Musical Times, Nov. 1976 (p. 914)© the estate of eric sams