The Strad's experts evaluate the latest string recordings
Mendelssohn: Octet in E flat major op.20, String Symphony no.10 in B minor
Friday, 01 August 2008
Zum Records ZUMCD 0722 (www.zumrecords.com)
I suspect the Mendelssohn Octet is a repertoire piece for London Concertante. At any rate, the players handle all its aspects with aplomb and I enjoyed their reading very much. What is more, they are excellently recorded, right down to the second cello. To this brilliantly youthful work they bring exactly what I felt was lacking in the recent recording led by Daniel Hope (Deutsche Grammophon). The individual players may not be so glamorous tonally as Hope’s colleagues but they work so well together and react to each other with such elan that the music comes alive.
Led by Adam Summerhayes, they choose good tempos for the first three movements, never sounding too rushed. There is quite a lot of tempo variation in the first movement but it sounds natural. The Andante is very pleasantly played and the Scherzo bustles with some nice filigree effects. The finale is rather fast but it is well rehearsed – and after all, it is marked Presto.
The group expands to a small orchestra for an absolutely superb performance of the one-movement Tenth String Symphony, with tremendous depth of tone in the Adagio section and virtuosic articulation in the Allegro section.
It seems a shame that at least one more work could not have been included in the programme – 41:27 is only just over half the capacity of a CD. The booklet annotator gets some facts in a twist, too. But the performances are well worth hearing.
From the August 2008 issue. Subscribe to The Strad or download our digital edition as part of a 30-day free trial.