Mendelssohn in Birmingham, Vol 5 - Gardner

Mendelssohn in Birmingham, Vol 5 - Gardner

Chandos  CHSA 5235

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical - Orchestral

Mendelssohn: Die schöne Melusine, Op. 32, Overture to Paulus, Op. 36, ‘Trumpet’ Overture, Op. 101, Overture to Athalie, Op. 74, The Hebrides, Op. 26, Overture to Ruy Blas, Op. 95, Meeresstille und glückliche Fahrt, Op. 27, Ein Sommernachtstraum, Op. 21

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Edward Gardner (conductor)

Edward Gardner’s Mendelssohn in Birmingham series continues with an album that collects eight overtures. Mendelssohn composed the majority of the works in the programme as concert overtures, spanning the length of his career, from the early Ein Sommernachtstraum (A Midsummer Night’s Dream), composed when he was just sixteen, through to Ruy Blas, written towards the end of his life.

He composed two of these overtures as the opening movement of larger works: Paulus, his first great oratorio, from 1836, and Athalie, incidental music written for Racine’s play. The ‘Trumpet’ Overture is the earliest work here, written possibly to precede a performance of Handel’s Israel in Egypt, and allegedly the favourite, among Mendelssohn’s works, of Mendelssohn’s father!

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PCM recording

Recorded on 20 and 21 October 2013 (The Hebrides); on 16 February 2014 (Ruy Blas); on 15 and 16 February 2014 (Meeresstille und glückliche Fahrt); on 13 and 14 July 2015 (Ein Sommernachtstraum), & on 10 and 11 July 2018 (other works), 24/96

Recording producer: Brian Pidgeon

Sound engineer: Ralph Couzens

Assistant engineers: Robert Gilmour (Ein Sommernachtstraum) and Jonathan Cooper (other works)

Editor: Jonathan Cooper

A&R administrator: Sue Shortridge
Comments (8)

Comment by hiredfox - August 13, 2019 (1 of 8)

A very mixed bag indeed, a collection of pieces recorded over a number of years with varying degrees of success. At times scruffy playing by the CBSO coupled with generally poor recordings lacking in detail, dimension and precision leaves a great dealt be desired.

Disappointing as we have come to expect exemplary recordings from this label while Gardner is certainly among the group of highly rated up-and-coming young conductors. The flaws are so easily perceived one wonders why Chandos chose to release this disc at all except for completion of their Mendelssohn survey.

Comment by breydon_music - August 16, 2019 (2 of 8)

Everyone to their own, but Gardner is one of a number of current conductors who never quite do it for me - everything sound enough but seldom anything life changing in its revelation or intensity. I found his Mendelssohn cycle to be completely blown out of the park by de Vriend's traversal on Challenge Classics or Rudner's excellent Ars Produktion part-cycle.

Comment by hiredfox - August 16, 2019 (3 of 8)

I can see where you are coming from. Litton was able to bring the Bergen Phil to life in a way that seems to escape Mr Gardner although to be fair Litton had many years tenure to shape the orchestra to his own needs and that makes huge difference. On the other hand Litton is not recognised as an 'A' lister amongst Maestro's either.

Personally I try not to miss a Litton recording whereas Gardner usually does not make my wish list.

Comment by hiredfox - August 28, 2019 (4 of 8)

News now that Gardner will be the new Principal Conductor of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra from 2020-21 season. Presumably he will quit the Bergen Phil. at the same time. Gardner is perceived to be an establishment figure in the UK and seems to have all the right contacts.

Comment by Graham Williams - September 1, 2019 (5 of 8)


Gardner is to become Principal Conductor of the London Philharmonic not the Royal Philharmonic.

It is Vasily Petrenko who is taking charge of the Royal Philharmonic from the 2021 season.

Comment by hiredfox - September 1, 2019 (6 of 8)

That's very interesting Graham as the source of my information is usually impeccable. London Phil would be a huge step up for him if it proves to be where he is heading.

Comment by Graham Williams - September 1, 2019 (7 of 8)

John, from the horse's mouth.

Comment by hiredfox - September 1, 2019 (8 of 8)

Thanks Graham. Yep, I double checked on-line and no question that your sources are spot on leaving a few doubts creeping in about mine!