Mendelssohn / Scotch Symphony / Maag – Reviewed in 2011

More of the music of Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)

Scotch Symphony / Maag

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Orchestral Music Hall of Fame

Both sides of this record have that classic Decca chocolatey, rich, sweet sound. It”s not for everybody, it”s probably not the sound one would hear in a concert hall, but we love it and so do many audiophiles. 

The performance here by Maag is legendary and definitive. The sound is perfectly suited for this music, with massed strings to die for. This is classic Tubey Magical Decca orchestral sound. If you want immediacy, buy a Mercury. If you want luscious, rich string tone, this London should be right up your alley.

Side two had less smear and less distortion and congestion than we heard on side one. It’s also even RICHER sounding, if such a thing is possible. More transparent too. A good balance of clarity and richness. A++ all the way.

Side One

With a grade of A+ we felt that the sound was a bit opaque and crude, with some smear to the strings (which in many ways is the classic Decca sound from the era). Side two improves on the sound in all these areas.

This is a truly wonderful copy of one of the all time great London records!

The Cover

The cover has some condition problems, including ringwear and a taped spine. Please click on the Sonic Grade tab above for further details.

Wikipedia’s Entry for the “Scotch” Symphony

The Symphony No. 3 in A minor, Op. 56, known as the “Scottish” Symphony, is a work by Felix Mendelssohn. It is thought that a painting on a Scotland trip made by Mendelssohn had inspired the 33-year-old composer, especially the opening theme of the first movement.

The emotional scope of the work is wide, consisting of a grand first movement, a joyous second movement of possibly Scottish folk music, a slow movement maintaining an apparent struggle between love and fate, and a finale that takes its components from Scottish folk dance. A peculiarity lies in the coda of the finale, where he introduces a complete new German majestic theme to close the work in a completely different manner from the rest of the finale.

It was conceived as early as 1829 during Mendelssohn’s trip to Scotland, but was not completed until 1842, and was not published in full score until the following year. The symphony was dedicated to Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom. Its premiere took place on 3 March 1842 in Leipzig.

The work is scored for an orchestra consisting of two flutes, two oboes, two clarinets in B flat and A, two bassoons, two horns in C and A, two horns in E, F and C, two trumpets in D, timpani, and strings. It is in four movements:

Andante con moto – Allegro un poco agitato

Vivace non troppo

Adagio

Allegro vivacissimo – Allegro maestoso assai

The lively second movement is melodically and rhythmically in the style of Scottish folk music, although no direct quotations have been identified.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Overture ‘The Hebrides’
Symphony No. 3 in A Minor (The Scotch)

Side Two

Symphony No. 3 in A Minor (The Scotch)