Sir John Eliot Gardiner and the London Symphony Orchestra join forces once again in the latest instalment of their exploration of Mendelssohn’s symphonies. Mendelssohn’s Symphony No 5, commonly known as the ‘Reformation’ Symphony, was written in 1830 to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the Augsberg confession – a seminal event in the Protestant Reformation. Allusions to the symphony’s title and inspiration can be heard throughout the music itself; the Dresden Amen is cited by the strings in the first movement whilst the finale is based on Martin Luther’s well-known chorale Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott (‘A Mighty Fortress is Our God’). Coupled with this are two of Mendelssohn’s overtures, Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage and Ruy Blas, both of which were inspired by literary works. Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage, based on two short poems by Goethe, depicts the journey of sailors at sea with a still adagio opening ultimately giving way to a triumphant homecoming. Completing the album, the overture Ruy Blas was commissioned by the Leipzig Theatre as an overture to Victor Hugo’s tragic drama of the same name.
"Leclair's single opera Scylla et Glaucus may lack the sheer audacity of his teacher Rameau, but it's enormously likeable…the performers respond…stylishly to Leclair's charming if slightly predictable sound-world…and the conducting preserves a neat balance between drama and ornament…It is clear that Gardiner favours intervention over chilly authenticity; whether or not you agree with all his decisions, the clarity of the image he presents is often provocative and always bracing." – Jan Smaczny, BBC Music Magazine
"John Eliot Gardiner has proved himself a doughty champion of the later French Baroque, cultivating credible performing methods and unearthing undeservedly neglected repertoire. … "Les Boreades" recorded in 1982. Viewed by many as one of the greatest of Rameau's operas, the score is both dramatically effective and a riot of orchestral colour. Gardiner conducts with a real feeling for the way in which instrumental timbre underpins the drama, while in a strong cast Philip Langridge is both stylish and superbly theatrical as Abaris." – Jan Smaczny, BBC Music Magazine