“What is particularly amazing about the Mendelssohn symphonies is the fact that he is both harking back to old masters like Bach, and, as a child of his time, looking ahead. Especially his Italian and Scottish symphonies are pointing at the future, since, in my opinion, Mendelssohn lived in the era of discovery, of the Wanderer. Goethe came up with his young Werther, a guy who went away to discover the world and upon returning nothing looked the same. It’s a bit like the Wanderer in the paintings of Caspar David Friedrich: the sea, the valley, the hills, the light – everything looked new, fresh and different.
Mendelssohn was such a Wanderer. He had read Goethe, so he travelled a lot. He went to Scotland, Italy and England where he absorbed the newness of it all. And that is exactly what you can hear in his music: astonishment, translated into music using harmonies we knew but which in his hands sounded completely fresh and new. Having said that, you can also hear an old-school musical approach.
Mendelssohn sometimes uses fugues or chorales we know from older styles. He was the first to bring back those trustworthy techniques – and that, in itself, was also new. He took those techniques on a journey and that i that his music isn’t being played more often. There are Beethoven, Brahms or Schumann programs all over the place, but where is Mendelssohn? Let me repeat: where is Mendelssohn?"