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MENDELSSOHN, Felix: Symphony No. 4, "Italian" / SCHUBERT, F.: Symphony No. 8, "Unfinished" (Park Avenue Chamber Symphony, Bernard)

MENDELSSOHN, Felix: Symphony No. 4, "Italian" / SCHUBERT, F.: Symphony No. 8, "Unfinished" (Park Avenue Chamber Symphony, Bernard)

The Classical Shop
release date: February 2013

Originally recorded in 2012


Park Avenue Chamber Symphony

Bernard, David

David Bernard


Record Label
Park Avenue


Orchestral & Concertos


Total Time - 57:52
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MENDELSSOHN, Felix: Symphony No. 4, "Italian" / SCHUBERT, F.: Symphony No. 8, "Unfinished" (Park Avenue Chamber Symphony, Bernard)

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Symphony No. 4 in A major, Op. 90, MWV N16, "Italian"

1 I. Allegro vivace 10:58
2 II. Andante con moto 6:39
3 III. Con moto moderato 7:40
4 IV. Saltarello: Presto 6:04



Symphony No. 8 in B minor, D. 759, "Unfinished"

5 I. Allegro moderato 15:33
6 II. Andante con moto 10:58
 David Bernard Conductor
 Bernard, David

 The Italian Symphony was completed in 1833 but remained unpublished in Mendelssohn’s life-time because of his own dissatisfaction with it and his intention of revising the first movement. The ideas for the work were developed during his stay in Italy in 1831, and the whole symphony, described by the Vienna critic Eduard Hanslick as "full of sweet enchantment, an intoxicating floral fragrance", fits well enough the composer’s own view of it as "the gayest thing I have ever done".

The first movement opens with the violins offering the initial cheerful theme, over repeated wind chords. Classical procedure is followed, with clarinets and bassoons playing a second subject over a busy string accompaniment. The central development of the movement introduces a third theme, with the opening figure providing material that leads to the re-appearance of the first subject and the recapitulation. The second movement is the famous Pilgrims’ March, the solemn theme of the procession announced by oboes, bassoons and violas, with the melody unfolding over the rhythmic march of the lower strings. A third movement, described by one critic as "a Biedermeier minuet", has about it something of the spirit of Mendelssohn’s fairy music for A Midsummer Night’s Dream, but it is in the rapid elegance of the final Saltarello and the concluding Neapolitan tarantella that this mood is decisively recaptured.
Schubert’s Symphony in B minor was the work of 1822 and only two of the expected four movements were finished, with part of a scherzo. These movements were not played in Schubert’s life-time, but were rediscovered 43 years later and given their first performance in Vienna in 1865. The manuscript had been given by Schubert to his friend Josef Huettenbrenner as a present for his brother Anseim in Graz. The latter had later arranged a piano duet version of the movements, which he and his brother played together. For years the manuscript remained in Anseim Huettenbrenner’s possession, its existence only known to a few, until it came to the attention of the conductor Johann Herbeck.
Later writers have offered various explanations of the fragmentary nature of the symphony, none completely convincing. It has been suggested. Improbably, those four movements were actually completed and sent to Anseim Huettenbrenner, who then lost two of the movements. More plausibly others have found a reason for not finishing the symphony in the composer’s preoccupation with other work. Certainly Schubert could never be sure that larger scale works would ever be performed. It might be added that in 1822 Schubert contracted venereal disease and that the serious nature of this incurable disease and its probable fatal outcome affected him very deeply.
This so-called Unfinished Symphony of Schubert is among the best loved orchestral compositions of all, although it lay undiscovered for years after the composer’s early death in 1828. Two of the movements of the Unfinished Symphony, of which the Andante con moto is the second, were completed and sketches made for two more movements.
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