This is Volume 2 in the series of orchestral music by Miklós Rózsa. No fewer than four exclusive Chandos artists perform on this release: The BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, the conductor Rumon Gamba, and soloists Paul Watkins on cello and Jennifer Pike on violin. Miklós Rózsa was best known for his film music, for which he was Oscar-nominated on thirteen separate occasions, winning three times with A Double Life, Ben Hur, and Hitchcock’s Spellbound. Alongside his film music, Rózsa also wrote music for the concert hall, including some notable concertos.
This is Volume 3 in our series of orchestral works by Miklós Rózsa. The composer’s unique musical voice was highly influenced by his Hungarian roots, and his works often dazzle with virtuosity. The BBC Philharmonic and Rumon Gamba here pull out all the stops to play these works with the precision and passion they require. Jennifer Pike, an exclusive Chandos artist, joins them in the Violin Concerto.
D’Indy was a contemporary of Debussy and Ravel, and a pupil of César Franck. Fauré described him as ‘The Samson of Music’ for his multifarious and generous-minded work as a composer, conductor, educator and propagandist who greatly strengthened French musical culture. Today the music of d’Indy is sadly neglected, which is why Chandos and the Iceland Symphony Orchestra have decided to embark upon a series devoted to his orchestral works with conductor Rumon Gamba. With a style essentially eclectic and strongly influenced above all by Beethoven and Wagner, d’Indy particularly excelled in orchestral composition. He drew particular inspiration from his native region in southern France, and formed a body of post-romantic works richly orchestrated, often inflected with folk-like melodies and employing Franck’s well-known ‘cyclic method’.
This third volume of the complete orchestral works by the great French composer Maurice Ravel features his music for the ballet Daphnis et Chloé, his longest work, written for Sergei Diaghalev’s Ballets Russes. The company gave the first performance in 1912. Ravel depicted the characters in the story with great musical delicacy, and the Stuttgart Orchestra reflects this through the attention it gives to the score’s finest nuances. Ravel secures scintillating effects from the large percussion section that he uses, a clear nod to ancient music. The Valses nobles et sentimentales were composed at the same time as the ballet, which makes it an appropriate coupling. The version for piano, clearly linked to Franz Schubert’s similarly named waltzes, was published in 1911, with the orchestral version following one year later. Again the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra gives a thrilling, first class interpretation.
Volume one of this series was an Editor’s Choice in Gramophone and here Gianandrea Noseda conducts his second instalment in his Smetana Orchestral Works series. This latest programme is made up of the familiar Bartered Bride Overture and Dances with the overtures and ballets of his lesser-known operas, including his first opera The Brandenburgers - performed with the Ballet from Act I, The Kiss – which was his first collaboration with the brilliant young librettist and poet, Eliska Krasnohorska, and The Devil’s Wall all of which offer Smetana’s masterful orchestration, panache and virtuosity. They are performed with assurance by the BBC Philharmonic.
Volume 3 in the series with the complete orchestral works of Ludwig van Beethoven is ready from the Swedish Chamber Orchestra and its music director since 1997, Thomas Dausgaard. The piano concertos are true gems of the classical canon, as Beethoven was an expert both in the art of writing for the orchestra and himself a master pianist. Russian pianist Boris Beresovsky (b.1969) is such a wizard. At the age of 21 he won the Gold Medal at the 1990 International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow. It is a privilege to hear how the combination Berezovsky and Dausgaard/SwCO really hit it of in this music. They are enjoying themselves, surprising each other, challenging and courteous at the same time. The sounding result speaks for itself.
In the third CD in his continuing series of the great Swedish late romantic composer, Kurt Atterberg, Neeme Jarvi interprets the two symphonies here in an invigorating manner with tempos that are rather fast and sometimes abrupt. Although the performances by Ari Rasilainen done some 15 years ago to my ears are still the preferred performances of these pieces in terms of bringing out the greatness of Atterberg's musical genius, Jarvi offers the listener a valid interpretation. Although his tempos are often rather too rushed and the adagio moments almost too quiet, the Gothenberg musicians are playing music that is close to their heart with impassioned and soaring string playing and the brass sections brilliant. The slow lyrical introduction to the final movement of Symphony No 1 with concertmaster Sara Troback Hesselink gives us the most moving and beautiful bars Atterberg ever composed.
It would be especially interesting to hear Jarvi's interpretation of Atterberg's older contemporary Peterson-Berger who is mentioned in the booklet notes. Although his role as a music credit affected his reputation in his lifetime, this says little of his melodic qualities and orchestration, which makes him one of the three greatest Swedish late romantic composers to my ear with Atterberg and Wilhelm Stenhammer and a cut above Hugo Alfven and Ture Rangstrom.
This disc is especially valuable for the only performance of the 1947 revised version of the 5th symphony. The book notes are also especially valuable with informative background along with archival photographs. The recording is also the best available in Chandos 24 bit sound. These additional features should give this CD a 4 1/2 star rating.