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 Search Beat > Arts > Music > Styles > Classical Music > Featured Composer > Felix Mendelssohn


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biography
A composer who matched the beauty of classical and early romantic forms, Mendelssohn (1809-1847) was energized by nature, art, and history. His mastery of choral music is overshadowed only by his handsome symphonic and chamber works.
recommended recordings
  Mendelssohn: Symphonies 3 & 4, etc / Karajan, Berlin PO
Composer: Felix Mendelssohn
Conductor: Herbert von Karajan
Ensemble: Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Uni/Deutsche Grammophon - #449743 / August 12, 1997

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Karajan at his best
These two symphonies were recorded in 1971, and 1973 - Karajan's best and happiest years. Not so "perfect sound" minded like in the sixties, Karajan has shifted into capturing the spirit of the music. The Italian symphony is pure bursting happiness and vitality, the scottish symphony is deeper, more introspective, as is the Herbides overture. This recording, particularly of the Italian symphony, is a must have.

Beethoven, Mendelssohn: Violin Concertos / Heifetz, Munch
Composer: Ludwig van Beethoven, Felix Mendelssohn
Conductor: Charles Munch
Performer: Jascha Heifetz
Ensemble: Boston Symphony Orchestra
Bmg/Rca Victor - #68980 / May 19, 1998

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RCA has coupled, recoupled, and re-recoupled their Heifetz recordings in just about every conceivable incarnation, making it very difficult and confusing for the collector to purchase the best of them in a simple and straightforward way. This "Living Stereo" reissue, however, really does offer the best sound so far, and the performances are second to none. Heifetz's Mendelssohn has always led the field: for lightness, athleticism, grace, and virtuosity, it's unsurpassed. In a work that many...Read more


Mendelssohn: Quartet no 3, Octet / Guarneri, Orion Quartets

Composer: Felix Mendelssohn
Ensemble: Guarneri String Quartet, Orion String Quartet
Arabesque - #6714 / August 25, 1998

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Here is Mendelssohn at his most dazzling and exuberant. The Octet, written at the incredible age of 16, combines a youthful, carefree attitude with astonishing technical mastery and expressive variety; the quartet, written 13 years later, frames two serene, wistful movements with two bursts of sunshine. The playing is fabulous. The corner movements of the Quartet are brilliant but never hectic, the middle ones lovely and expressive; the Guarneri's beauty of tone and transparency of texture are...Read more


Mendelssohn: A Midsummer Night's Dream, etc / Abbado, et al

Composer: Felix Mendelssohn
Conductor: Claudio Abbado
Performer: Kenneth Branagh, Angelika Kirchschlager, et al.
Ensemble: Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Ernst Senff Choir
Sony Classics - #62826 / December 17, 1996

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Claudio Abbado has a reputation as a fine Mendelssohn conductor, one that he earned in his recording of the complete symphony for DG. As so often happens, he as re-recorded the "Italian" Symphony only a few years later for another label, and this performance is fine, though not better than his earlier one. What may be more appealing for many listeners, however, is the coupling of the music Mendelssohn composed for Shakespeare's play A Midsummer Night's Dream. You've heard this before,...Read more


Mendelssohn: String Quartets Vol 3 / Aurora String Quartet
Composer: Felix Mendelssohn
Performer: Sharon Grebanier, Mariko Smiley, et al.
Ensemble: Aurora String Quartet
Naxos - #550863 / June 23, 1994

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This final volume of the Mendelssohn String Quartet series contains two major works, along with two isolated late movements published after the composer's death. Mendelssohn's String Quartets aren't heard nearly as often as they deserve to be, and it's a pleasure making their acquaintance (or reacquaintance) in performances like these. The Aurora String Quartet is one of those contemporary string quartets that plays on a technical level unimagined a generation ago, with tight, precise ensemble...Read more


works & recordings

  • Chamber Music
    Trios, Quartets, Quintets

  • Choral
    Secular and sacred choral music. Oratorios, Masses, Partsongs, Hymns, Carols

  • Instrumental
    Sonatas, Suites, Overtures, Minuets, Variations, Transcriptions, Dance Music

  • Orchestra
    Concertos, Symphonies

  • Theatrical Works
    Ballet, Stage, Incidental Music, Film Scores

  • Vocal and Opera
    Opera, Operetta, Song, Lieder, Musical Theater

Complete List of Works and Recordings

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