Symphony No.4 in A, Op.90 (Italian)
Symphony No.5 in D, Op.107 (Reformation)
La Chambre Philharmonique
Recorded July 2006 in Salle Liebermann, Opéra Bastille, Paris
Reviewed by: Colin Anderson
Reviewed: January 2007
CD No: NAÏVE V 5069
Duration: 54 minutes
La Chambre Philharmonique is of Emmanuel Krivine’s devising, “a utopian ideal”, a flexible orchestra (in terms of personnel and repertoire) made up of “musicians from the greatest European ensembles”.
In pairing these two Mendelssohn symphonies, one hugely popular and one (‘Reformation’) not as appreciated as it should be, Krivine and his players produce lively and sparkling performances, ones vividly detailed and with an equality between winds and strings that makes for arresting listening, especially when the recorded sound is as ideally judged as here in terms of immediacy and clarity. Ensemble is immaculate and the playing has joy and brio, too. Krivine chooses brisk tempos but these are perfectly poised and avoid charges of haste. The first movement of the ‘Italian’ is exhilarating (exposition repeat observed) and the middle movements both flow without becoming relentless. The ‘saltarello’ finale has fire and precision.
A lack of vibrato adds a grave beauty to the opening of the ‘Reformation’ – using modern instruments, these musicians are fully aware of ‘authentic’ niceties. A real sense of expectancy informs the Andante introduction and dramatic flair drives the Allegro con fuoco but with lack of attention to detail or finer points, with brass finely integrated into the overall picture. The scherzo is a notch to fast, maybe, a little to strict, but the delightful trio is wholly beguiling; and the succeeding Andante is a flowing prelude to the weighty finale, here purposeful rather than portentous, the rasp of a contrabassoon breaking through with glee and, as throughout, antiphonal violins adding to the lucidity of these finely judged, revealing and impressive performances.