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This work isn’t now usually listed among the symphonies. It was only given its symphonic designation after Mendelssohn’s death and sheds it rather easily. It is, instead, a magnificent cantata with symphonic introduction that builds to the great F chorale of ‘Nun danket alle Gott’. Written for Leipzig to mark the 400th anniversary of Gutenberg’s printing press, it is above all a passionate celebration of Holy Writ and this SACD recording – the last in Sir John Eliot Gardiner’s Mendelssohn cycle – allows the text to be heard distinctly in every movement. My instinct is that Gardiner takes it along quicker than usual – other recordings come in nearer to 70 minutes – but there is nothing hurried or lacking in reverence about his reading, which must now be the recording of choice.

BRIAN MORTON Read the full review on Agora Classica


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