This reading shows the gentleness of the work perfectly…The essence of the score that Herreweghe brings out so well is Mendelssohn's flawless counterpoint, not just the fugal choruses but between orchestra and choir or woodwind and strings. The harmonic richness leaps out from the opening of the overture, with its lush orchestration of the chorale Wachet auf. It makes so much sense on a period orchestra.–Early Music Review
These classic recordings need little comment from me on artistic grounds. Heifetz's account of the Mendelssohn never has been bettered for sheer dazzling virtuosity, and although the Beethoven is more controversial (some find it "cold"), I love its unaffected, truly classical purity. Besides, you also get Munch and the Boston Symphony, no mean bonus. It's interesting to compare the two performances in multichannel sound, since the Beethoven is two-track, while the Mendelssohn offers three.
They mean well, their hearts are in it, and they clearly have the chops. But ultimately, the Prazák Quartet's and Kocian Quartet's recording of Mendelssohn's ineffably evanescent String Octet doesn't quite make the grade. Because for all their good intentions, the Prazák and Kocian quartets' performance does not quite capture the work's ineffable evanescence, its sense of youthful impetuosity and masterful lucidity or its feeling for achingly lovely melodies and strongly effective rhythms.
In October 2016, to bring his acclaimed Mendelssohn symphonies cycle to a rousing conclusion, Sir John Eliot Gardiner and the London Symphony Orchestra – accompanied by Lucy Crowe, Jurgita Adamonytė, Michael Spyres and the Monteverdi Choir – gave two performances of the composer’s symphony-cantata, ‘Lobgesang’. Also known as ‘Hymn of Praise’, it sits slightly uneasily with Mendelssohn’s four other symphonies, with its extended last movement involving soloists and chorus. However, the idea was not without precedent – the work has its roots in both Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony (‘Choral’), and Berlioz’s Roméo et Juliette.
The Borodin Trio's recording of Mendelssohn's two piano trios was first released in 1985 and reissued in 2009, in time for the Mendelssohn bicentennial. The performances may not be as warmly opulent as fans of the group might like. Fans used to their big-vibrato, heart-on-the-sleeve approach to the trios of Schubert and Brahms could miss the Trio's usual ultra-lush ensemble and super-heated sonority.
The symphonies are well-performed. 'Reformation' is an inspired live recording. The 12 string symphonies, written in Mendelssohn's youth, are also included. The concertos are exceptional - the violin concerto is as good as you'll find anywhere. The oratorios Elijah and Paulus are included, as well as the complete chamber works and a diverse assortment of choral works. The last few discs include the Lied ohne worte, the epic organ sonatas, and excellent renditions of A Midsummer Night's Dream and Fingal's Cave. While there are a few sketchy performances in the choral and chamber works, the performances and recordings are generally very solid, and the body of work couldn't be better.
The first two of the three string quartets of Mendelssohn's Op. 44 were recorded by the Cherubini Quartett in 1990. With its transparent textures, elegant phrasing, and refined execution, the ensemble is temperamentally suited to this music, which seems to require those qualities above others. While Mendelssohn acquired many advanced compositional techniques from studying Beethoven's quartets, he never presumed to plumb the master's spiritual depths, and preferred instead to emulate the Classical gentility and poise of Haydn and Mozart. The String Quartet No. 3 in D major, Op. 44/1, is predominantly exuberant and optimistic, and the Cherubini Quartett delivers it in a light, effervescent style, and only occasionally touches on the deeper passions that Mendelssohn prized in this work. More serious and fervid in expression, the String Quartet No. 4 in E minor, Op. 44/2, evokes the tense emotions of eighteenth century Sturm und Drang. The Cherubini Quartett renders the work with a darker coloration and richer tone, but these shadings neither interfere with the clarity of the parts nor weigh down Mendelssohn's fleet lines.