Mendelssohn’s First Piano Concerto was significant in the development of the genre. It has a sparseness of form, dispensing with much of the classical tradition. For example, at the start the pianist enters with a short cadenza, shortly after the orchestra, and both share the opening introductions. The breathless first movement is full of dazzling passagework from the piano, whilst the dreamy andante is a delicately worked song of ever-increasing beauty leading into the brilliant rondo and fiery conclusion.
Schubert’s Fifth Symphony is certainly the best of his six early symphonies. Constructed on themes radiating youthful optimism, the first movement is brisk and as light as a feather. The second movement displays Schubert the lyrical genius of song, operating here in a mode of reflective melancholy. Moments of emotional unease crop up, but they are soothed into submission by the music’s gentle onward flow before any lingering clouds are swept away for good with a flashing, carefree romp of a finale.
Written at the peak of Haydn’s symphonic output Symphony No.102, one of the so called ‘London’ symphonies, is one of the set’s finest, covering a broad emotional range that suggests the wit and grace of Mozart at one end and the sober profundity of Beethoven at the other.