Friday, 29 May 2009

272. Felix Mendelssohn - Symphony no. 4, "Italian" (1833)


Title: Mendelssohn: Symphony No.4 "Italian"; Brahms Symphony No. 3
Performers: Philharmonia Orchestra
Conductor: Guido Cantelli
Year: 1951
Length: 26 minutes


Many of Mendelssohn's works might not be immediately recognisable by title, but as soon as you hear them you know you've heard them countless times before, such is the case with this Symphony. Mendelssohn made such immediately appealing music and such perfect incidental music that almost all movements here have been used time and again.

This Symphony is another product of Mendelssohn's trips around Europe, like the Hebrides overture before it. Here he uses themes taken from traditional Italian music, particularly in the first and last movement, and the whole thing has a very joyous power.

The slightly mournful second movement also has little gleams of light through it. One of the reasons for Mendelssohn's popularity among a wider audience is the same that has led critics to be disparaging: this very present happiness. At least by this time Mendelssohn was anything but tormented, and it shows. This is not to say however that he was not a great composer, he just proved that you don't need to be unhappy to produce great music.

Final Grade



From Wikipedia:

he Italian Symphony was finished in Berlin, 13 March, 1833, in response to an invitation for a symphony from the London (now Royal) Philharmonic Society; he conducted the first performance himself in London on 13 May 1833, at a London Philharmonic Society concert. The symphony's success, and Mendelssohn's popularity, influenced the course of British music for the rest of the century.

First Movement:

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