Mendelssohn- Symphony No 3 'Scottish' & Overture- The Hebrides, Schumann- Piano Concerto (2014)

Mendelssohn, Schumann

London Symphony Orchestra, Maria João Pires

Sir John Eliot Gardiner

From grappling with his two most popular symphonies, the ‘Scottish’ and ‘Italian’, one soon realises how Mendelssohn absorbed foreign landscapes like a sponge, an impression reinforced by the exquisite water-colours he found time to paint on his frequent travels. His vivid impressions of Scotland first surfaced in his Fingal’s Cave overture (sketched in 1829 but not published until 1834), in which the polishing process entailed eradicating traces of learned counterpoint in favour of ‘the taste of seagulls and train oil’ (as he himself put it). Indeed, his approach to instrumentation was close to that of an artist selecting individual shades and mixtures of colours. When once a fellow composer suggested to him, “Here pure purple is needed – the horns are dampening the splendour of the trumpets”, Mendelssohn replied, “No! No! That shouts too loudly. I want violet”.
Sir John Eliot Gardiner

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London Symphony Orchestra

The LSO was formed in 1904 as London’s first self-governing orchestra and has been resident orchestra at the Barbican since 1982. Valery Gergiev became Principal Conductor in 2007 following in the footsteps of Hans Richter, Sir Edward Elgar, Sir Thomas Beecham, André Previn, Claudio Abbado and Michael Tilson Thomas, among others. Sir Colin Davis had previously held the position since 1995 and from 2007 became the LSO’s first President since Leonard Bernstein. The Orchestra gives numerous concerts around the world each year, plus more performances in London than any other orchestra. It is the world’s most recorded symphony orchestra and has appeared on some of the greatest classical recordings and film soundtracks. The LSO also runs LSO Discovery, its ground-breaking education programme that is dedicated to introducing the finest music to young and old alike and lets everyone learn more from the Orchestra’s players. For more information visit

Sir John Eliot Gardiner

Sir John Eliot Gardiner, one of the most versatile conductors of our time, is acknowledged as a key figure in the early music revival. Founder and artistic director of three ensembles – the Monteverdi Choir, the English Baroque Soloists, and the Orchestre R.volutionnaire et Romantique – he also appears regularly with Europe’s most important symphony orchestras, including the LSO, Bayerischer Rundfunk, Royal Concertgebouw, Czech Philharmonic, and the Orchestre National de France, as well as at the Royal Opera House (London), and La Fenice (Venice). The extent of Gardiner’s repertoire is illustrated by over 250 recordings he has made for major record companies, and by numerous international awards including Gramophone’s Special Achievement Award for live recordings of the complete church cantatas of Johann Sebastian Bach, released on the label Soli Deo Gloria (SDG) that he established in 2006. SDG’s catalogue now includes recordings of, among others, Bach’s St John Passion, Brandenburg Concertos, and complete Motets, a Brahms symphony cycle, and a cappella recordings with the Monteverdi Choir.

Maria João Pires

One of the finest musicians of her generation, pianist Maria João Pires continues to transfix audiences with the spotless integrity, eloquence and vitality of her art. Born in 1944 in Lisbon, she gave her first public performance in 1948. Since 1970 she has dedicated herself to reflecting on the influence of art on life, community, and education, and in trying to develop new ways of implementing pedagogic theories within society. In the last ten years she has held many workshops with students from all round the world, and has taken her philosophy and teaching to Japan, Brazil, Portugal, France, and Switzerland. More recently she joined the teaching faculty of the Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel in Belgium where she is working with a group of highly gifted young pianists. Maria João has appeared with all the major European orchestras, under the batons of Bernard Haitink, Claudio Abbado, Riccardo Chailly, Sir John Eliot Gardiner, and Ivan Fischer, among others. She has a large and varied discography including solo repertoire, chamber music, and concertos. Recent recordings – released to great critical acclaim – include a solo Schubert CD, and a CD with Antonio Meneses recorded ‘live’ at London’s Wigmore Hall.

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Mendelssohn- Symphony No 3 'Scottish' & Overture- The Hebrides, Schumann- Piano Concerto (2014)

Mendelssohn, Schumann

London Symphony Orchestra, Maria João Pires


The Scottish Symphony revives the austere beauty of the Scottish countryside.

    Cutting Edge -

This album is, in short, perfection in a nutshell.

    Fono Forum -

Music ***** Sound ***** There's absolutely nothing at all 'routine' about the performances... Seldom does one hear Mendelssohn’s orchestral music that intense and at the same time with such beautiful sound and illuminated in even the tiniest detail of the score... He [John Eliot Gardiner] meets Maria João Pires in an intimate 'speaking' expression of the themes and acknowledges the fantasticness of this music at every moment… A dense, eventful performance, as one wishes Schumann performances to be more often.


In Mendelssohn’s 'Scottish' Symphony, John Eliot Gardiner proves himself a sensitive conductor and the musicians of London Symphony Orchestra prove their instrumental superior ease, especially in the tricky passages. Energy also dominates their interpretation of the 'Hebrides Overture' – the contrasts of this work makes the listener sense the dynamics of the churning sea.


Pires plays the Schumann concerto captivatingly beautifully and with a strong sense for dynamism and virtuosity. Gardiner and the London Symphony Orchestra accompany committedly and listen carefully.

    BBC Music Magazine

Playing and balance throughout are exemplary... A special laurel wreath should be placed on the brow of guest principal oboist Celine Moinet, whose phrasing of the tune at the start of the concerto is magical… She [Pires] has the enviable ability to make everything sound fresh but natural, and her tone is enchanting.


In terms of sound, the balance is realistic on both, with much clarity and a battling edge to Mendelssohn’s dramatic tutti. Sir John Eliot Gardiner’s Hebrides Overture must be one of the most thrilling ever recorded, adding volleys of sea-spray to well-navigated execution… The [Schumann Piano Concerto] performance’s highlight comes towards the close of the sprightly finale…That passage alone marks this out as a truly memorable performance.


Together, Gardiner and the orchestra give a sensitive and tingly performance of the Mendelssohn. Just a dream recording.

    International Record Review

As a performance, this ‘Scottish’ Symphony is as fresh, vital and even thrilling as any I’ve ever heard – and given the exceptional quality of the sound it easily goes to the top of my list … it is so good that it can be recommended without hesitation. -

The sound quality on these discs is amongst the best that I have heard from LSO Live. The piano is very well balanced with the orchestra and the shortcomings of the Barbican acoustic are minimal. Perhaps it is also worth mentioning that the booklet artwork is the most attractive I have seen on an LSO Live disc. It is to be hoped that future issues in this cycle equal the standard set by this one. Highly recommended.

    Classic FM

As you might expect, Sir John brings his love of authentic performance into his approach - the LSO strings sound bright and breezy as they evoke Mendelssohn's Scotland in both the Scottish Symphony and his Hebrides Overture. Also featured on this release is Maria João Pires joining the LSO to play the Piano Concerto by Schumann - the inaugural concerto recording on the LSO Live label. The brilliant Portuguese pianist is on sparkling form, ranging from the intimate to the dazzlingly virtuosic.

    The Arts Desk

It's an unalloyed delight to come across this exhilarating live account of the Symphony no 3. We also get a nippy account of The Hebrides overture, and a graceful performance of Schumann's Piano Concerto from Maria João Pires… a wise, intelligent performance. Praise too for LSO Live's engineers – this is among the best-sounding recordings from this source.

    The Herald Scotland

If I had to pick my record of the year, there would be a queue. Leading that queue, and ticking every box, is the stunning, revelatory new recording of Mendelssohn's Scottish Symphony and Hebrides Overture, with, to my taste, one of the finest performances of Schumann's Piano Concerto that I have ever heard. The whole thing is absolutely wonderful, and an education.

Mendelssohn- Symphony No 3 'Scottish' & Overture- The Hebrides, Schumann- Piano Concerto (2014)

Mendelssohn, Schumann

London Symphony Orchestra, Maria João Pires

Mastering Engineer: Classic Sound Ltd. JOnathan Stokes
Producer: Nicholas parker
Recording Engineer: Classic Sound Ltd. Neil Hutchinson
Recording location: Barbican London
Recording Type & Bit Rate: DSD64

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LSO0765: Mendelssohn- Symphony No 3 'Scottish' & Overture- The Hebrides, Schumann- Piano Concerto
01:19:18   Select quality & channels above
Overture- The Hebrides
00:10:02   N/A
Piano Concerto- i. Allegro affettuoso
00:15:20   N/A
Piano Concerto- ii. Intermezzo- Andantino grazioso
00:05:04   N/A
Piano Concerto- iii. Allegro vivace
00:11:04   N/A
Symphony No 3- i. Andante con moto - Allegro un poco agitato
00:15:02   N/A
Symphony No 3- ii. Vivace non troppo
00:04:11   N/A
Symphony No 3- iii. Adagio
00:08:56   N/A
Symphony No 3- iv. Allegro vivacissimo - Allegro maestoso assai
00:09:39   N/A

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