Mendelssohn: Symphony No 2 in B flat major, Op 52 (Lobgesang)

Reviewed on Mon 09 Jun, 2014

Mendelssohn’s Second Symphony is entitled ‘Lobgesang’ (Hymn of Praise). It’s a hybrid: three orchestral movements followed by a finale that is an oratorio and calls for three vocal soloists and a chorus. The opening of the work is arresting, a memorable motto theme stirred into action by trombones. Pablo Heras-Casado avoids pomposity here and drives the movement on, to compelling fashion. The playing is superb, so too the recorded sound. There follows a beguiling dance-like movement (beautifully shaped here) and a slow movement that is deeply eloquent. More than half the work is vocal, but retaining that motto as an idée fixe. With first-class choral and solo singing, directed by a conductor who is really inside this music, and revealing to boot, this is quite something. Heras-Casado’s success is that he blows any cobwebs away that may have stuck to this inspiring music; the result is thrilling, dramatic and beautiful.
–Colin Anderson