Hearing the music as it would have been heard in the 1800s adds a different dimension to the listening experience. Album of the Week, 5 November 2012.
It's easy to forget that much of Beethoven's music was deemed controversial and ground-breaking when it was first composed, and the Symphony No. 3 ('Eroica') is no exception. Hearing Beethoven on period instruments attempts to recapture the magic of those early performances, emphasising their unusual qualities and approaching the music as though it has never been heard before. Cheeky surprises, so characteristic of Beethoven, jump out of the delicate orchestral textures in a way they cannot in a recording on more modern instruments.
Mendelssohn's 'Italian' Symphony No. 4 is slightly less dramatic in comparison to the freshness of the Beethoven, but the optimism and joie-de-vivre in the first and final movements are brought to life by the precision of the orchestral playing. The stately 'Andante con moto' second movement is imbued with a classical elegance, and the more delicate period strings allow the woodwind melodies to float through, creating an atmospheric sound world.
This album is a perfect opportunity to rediscover these symphonic masterpieces with fresh ears; every hearing offers a glimpse back to classical music's golden past.