The Barbirolli Societys latest release is a 2-CD set of the complete concert given in the Free Trade Hall, Manchester on 20 October 1960, with the combined forces of the Hallé and BBC Northern Symphony Orchestras. The concert consisted of Nielsens Symphony No.5 and Mahlers Symphony No.7. Michael Kennedy, writing in 2000, stated: Performances of the (Mahler) Seventh were much rarer then than they are today, and Mahlerian scholars and enthusiasts flocked to Manchester for the event, among them Deryck Cooke who was profoundly impressed by Sir Johns ability to make the works structure cohere. This was an especially significant comment coming from Cooke, who harboured many doubts about the symphony and confessed to finding it most problematical.
Nielsen's Fifth is a superb performance, not only by the glittering and oscillating sound of this prodigious ensample, but the febrile approach given by Kondrashin. This performance was dated in 1981 and we may really realize with admirable clarity the color, phrasing and display of virtuosistic elegance of this majestic Orchestra, in these live recordings.
Born into a musical Latvian family violinist Baiba Skride won First Prize at the 2010 Queen Elisabeth Competition, held annually in Belgium. Ms. Skride’s natural approach to her music making has endeared her to some of today’s most important conductors and orchestras. Following her debut at the BBC Proms with the Oslo Philharmonic and Vasily Petrenko playing the Szymanowski Concerto No. 1, The Times noted, ‘Latvian violinist Baiba Skride sailed over the orchestra with long lines of melody, silver and sweet.’ She was immediately re-invited, and at the 2014 Proms played the Stravinsky Concerto with the BBC Symphony and Ed Gardner. Baiba Skride debut recording with Orfeo of the Szymanowski Concertos and Myths was nominated for the 2015 BBC Music Magazine Awards in the Concerto section. For her Orfeo CD follow up she has recorded two Scandinavian violin concertos truly exciting, fresh and innovative – Jean Sibelius’s well-loved concerto and Carl Nielsen’s unjustly neglected companion work – with the Tampere Philharmonic and conductor Santtu-Matias Rouvali.
In 1962, when Leonard Bernstein chose to record Carl Nielsen’s Fifth Symphony, this provided the composer with a wider international breakthrough some thirty years after his death. The work has since been hailed as one of the greatest symphonies of the twentieth century, but at its first performances during the early 1920’s audiences were less enthusiastic, finding it puzzling and difficult to understand.
"Much more than just an entertaining offshoot of the same team’s deeply-felt Nielsen Symphonies cycle, this disc highlights Nielsen’s wide-ranging sense of curiosity. (…) Järvi’s ineffable sense of atmosphere goes hand in glove with the Gothenburg Symphony Hall recording (outstanding as always) in dreamscapes and sea-pictures, while the extrovert, human worlds of Maskarade and Aladdin are deliciously pointed." ~BBC Music Magazine
My admiration for Horenstein’s tireless championship of Bruckner and Mahler in Britain has always been tempered by what I actually hear on the recordings that have been preserved, whether live or in the studio. While his dedication is never in question, Horenstein had a serious interpretive weakness that manifests itself in virtually everything he did: an inability or refusal to make necessary tempo adjustments, particularly in sonata form first movements and finales. This habit, combined with a certain nervousness that sometimes gives an unwelcome sense of haste to slow passages, mars much of what would otherwise be a major achievement, from the first movement of Mahler’s Third and the “Abschied” finale of Das Lied von der Erde, to the second movement of Nielsen’s Fifth.
Here’s a strange and interesting CD if I’ve ever heard one. It begins with Peter Eötvös’s contemporary piece Levitation, written for two clarinets, accordion, and strings. But don’t break out your polka records for a comparison; this music is more of the style normally described as “contemporary ambient,” with brief shards of musical motifs drifting, interacting, and creating a mood rather than a work with a form that one can grasp. Ironically, I find it much more palatable than some of the contemporary music I’ve reviewed recently, such as Maxwell Davies’s Symphony No. 1 or the piano music of Judith Lang Zaimont. The first section depicts a hurricane scene in which phone boxes and traffic signs float on the violent winds, yet the music is not as violent as the description suggests. Its fragmentary nature, and reliance on a small group of instruments, results in an atonal yet somehow fascinating musical environment.
In her third release for EMI Classics the energetic young Norwegian violinist continues the idea of Nordic and Russian concerto pairings established with Sibelius and Prokofiev Concertos on her first album. Here the famous romance of Tchaikovsky’s well-loved violin concerto and Scandinavian poise and unique colouring of Nielsen’s concerto are presented in a rare coupling together on disc.
I believe this was Previn's first recording with the London Symphony, back in 1965. This period yielded a bumper crop of fine recordings with this team, including Nielsen's First Symphony, Scheherazade, and Tchaikovsky's Second Symphony. This is as fine a Shostakovich Fifth as I have ever heard. […]