Music: Throwing Down the Gauntlet

Five new recordings challenge old preconceptions

Music lovers tend to take their taste in the classics for granted. But it is worthwhile to have the mind invigorated by listening to old works in a fresh way. Some recent releases that issue a challenge:

MENDELSSOHN: Five Symphonies; Three Overtures. Claudio Abbado conducting the London Symphony Orchestra (Deutsche Grammophon; 4 LPs or CDs). Imagine the history of 19th century music if Felix Mendelssohn had been the great romantic icon instead of Beethoven. In place of egocentric storms there would be grace and lucidity; instead of anguish there would be serenity and inner peace. The masterpieces produced by such disparate...

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