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Mendelssohn: The Complete Masterpieces [Box Set]
Christian Gerhaher, Anton Scharinger, Peter Edelmann
Mendelssohn: The Complete Masterpieces [Box Set]
Genre: Classical


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You take what you've got...
Peter | 08/22/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)

"A Swedish proverb, attributed to the famous 18th century cook, Kajsa Varg, is "You take what you've got" ("Man tager vad man haver"). And that is just what Sony & Co have done here. They have digged in their big archive, and found a lot of good old Mendelssohn recordings (and a few new ones as well). My purpose with this little essay is not to review each recording, but to give a view on the choice of works.

On the plus side stands, as said before, that there are quite a few good recordings in this set. One reservation though, is against the symphony recordings with Kurt Masur and the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig. The tempos here are quite brisk, and not as "romantic" and broad, as some people may want it. An advantage is also the documentation. You get a leaflet with 128 pages in English and in German.

The choice of music works, however, could be different. For example, you get three full CD:s with the complete organ works, but only one CD with lieder and duets. Also, you get only a small selection of "Songs without Words", not the entire collection.

Also missing in this set are for example:

- Concerto for violin, piano and strings, d minor

- Die schöne Melusine, overture, op. 32

- The concert pieces for clarinet, basset-horn and piano, opp. 113-114

- Sonata for violin and piano, f minor, op. 4

- Andante and rondo capriccioso for piano, op. 14

You will not find much of the a cappella music for chorus here, only the Lieder, op. 59. Of the Psalms, there is only op. 42.

To conclude, too much organ music, too little of Lieder and a cappella choral music. You might to have a look at the Brilliant set as well Mendelssohn: The Masterworks featuring 40 CD:s! But, on the other hand you'll miss the fine documentation."
The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly!
John Keating | 12/03/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)

"The String Symphonies are superb. I have listened to the String Symphonies repeatedly and have enjoyed them (I am happy I bought this box set based on this alone). Still, I am very, very disappointed in the full orchestra (CDs 4-6) Symphonies No. 1-5. These recordings are simply unlistenable! My God! What was Sony thinking? What was Kurt Masur thinking? What a tragedy - The Italian (no.4) sounds tinny and the tempo is just wrong. This was NOT the way Mendelssohn intended. Shame on Kurt Masur! Shame on Sony for putting these recordings before the public - booooooo! I think that about sums up my feelings (just a touch of levity)

Still, there is a lot to like in this box set. As I stated earlier the String Symphonies are ear candy - well recorded and enjoyable from start to finish! The chamber music is also a delight for the ears.

In summation:

The good: The String Symphonies, Chamber Music, String Quintets, Piano Trios

The bad: It's a matter of taste here - I am not an organ music fan. So in all fairness, I think Sony should have included more of The Songs Without Words.

The Ugly:

Symphonies 1-5. Just abysmal, horrible, god-awful, did I mention Coaster material (cds 4-6). Really, at your next gathering use cds 4-6 as drink coasters!

Again, I am glad I purchased this box set. I will just need to purchase a higher quality recording of Mendelssohn's symphonies 1-5!

Thank you for reading my rant!"