While Mendelssohn was a mere teenager when he wrote them, there is no bad music in any of his 12 string symphonies. Some are more memorable than others and all of them taken at once may be too much of a good thing, but taken a disc at a time, there is no more charming series of symphonies in all European art music. Each one is distinctive, each one is brilliant, each one is supremely well-composed, and each one is a delight. Even the minor-keyed symphonies, for all their early German Romantic drama, are charming in the way only a mere teenager can be charming, all the more so since this teenager was arguably the greatest of the prodigy composers.
Ross Pople and the London Festival Orchestra recorded Mendelssohn's string symphonies, which were originally issued in 1991, the early peak of the digital sound recording explosion, the time when even the most obscure repertoire was being recorded and re-recorded. And although not actually obscure, there had rarely been complete recordings of the string symphonies before and never before had there been such a beautiful recording. The warmth and depth of the London Festival Orchestra's string section is amazing. Pople's interpretations lean toward the emotional if not quite the sentimental side. Joined together in Hyperion's clear and round acoustic, Pople and the LFO make Mendelssohn's string symphonies sound lush and lovely and altogether innocent.