Sir Colin Davis (1927–2013): The RCA Legacy
The first complete collection of Sir Colin Davis' RCA recordings
About Sir Colin Davis:
By the time Sir Colin Davis died in April 2013, at the age of 85, the former firebrand of the 1950s had long since mellowed into the grand old man of British music, and the recordings he made under contract to RCA Victor between 1988 and 2000 gloriously preserve what was widely felt, both then and since, to be the Golden Age of one of the world’s most gifted, respected and much-loved conductors.
Sir Colin’s RCA legacy enshrines his relationships with the three orchestras with whom he was most closely associated during his later years: the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, of which he was Chief Conductor from 1983 to 1992, and with whom he recorded his first RCA release, a coupling of Brahms’s Tragic Overture and Second Symphony, in 1988; the Dresden Staatskapelle, of which he was first Principal Guest Conductor, then Honorary Conductor, from 1990 until his death; and the London Symphony Orchestra, of which he was the longest-serving Principal Conductor (1995–2006) and then President, and with whom he completed an acclaimed Sibelius cycle, triumphantly bringing his RCA contract to an end, in the millennial year 2000.
For Davis, coming from a not altogether happy childhood, music always represented “a kind of alchemy that could transform reality into imaginative possibilities”, as indeed he transformed himself from a jobbing orchestral clarinettist into a world-class conductor. That imaginative alchemy is evident throughout this collection, from the stylish, sharp-edged conducting of the young Davis on a 1963 recording of Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez with the guitarist Julian Bream (the earliest item included) to his cycle of Schubert symphonies with the Dresden Staatskapelle, of which Gramophone enthused, “We are somehow persuaded that Schubert is brought to life without any intervening human hand, which is exactly as it should be”.
As well as interpretations of the three composers to whom he was always most devoted – Berlioz, Sibelius and, perhaps above all, Mozart (“He is life itself,” he once said), this RCA Legacy collection also includes notable versions of Mahler’s Fourth and Eighth Symphonies (repertoire Davis had inherited from his great predecessor at the Bavarian RSO, Rafael Kubelik), Elgar’s Violin Concerto (music he in turn introduced to the Bavarians), Brahms’s A German Requiem and complete recordings of Wagner’s Lohengrin, Verdi’s Falstaff and Beethoven’s Fidelio – a work Davis once summarised as an “idealistic piece about those small miracles of love and devotion which are the stuff of everyday life”.
And it was always his own miraculous musical synthesis of idealism, love and devotion that made his conducting so special. “A musician must make affirmations,” said Davis. “If he cannot believe in music as a universal ideal, what is he left with?” SET CONTENTS:
DISC 1: Mozart: Eine kleine Nachtmusik, K. 525 Mozart: Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra K. 622 in A (Version for Basset Clarinet) Mozart: Serenade No. 11, K. 375 in E-Flat
DISC 2: Mozart: Bassoon Concerto in B-Flat, K. 191 Mozart: Serenade No. 9 in D, K. 320 "Posthorn"
DISC 3: Mozart: Serenade No. 10 in B-Flat, K. 361 "Gran Partita" Mozart: Serenade No. 12 in C Minor, K. 388
DISC 4: Mozart: Overtures
DISC 5: Mozart: Concerto No. 9, K.271, in E-Flat Mozart: Concerto No. 21, K. 467, in C
DISC 6: Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 20, K.466 in D Minor Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 25, K. 503 in C
DISC 7: Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 27, K. 595 in B-Flat Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 19, K. 459 in F
DISC 8: Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 23, K.488 in A Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 24, K. 491 in C Minor
DISC 9: Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 22, K. 482 in E-Flat Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 26, K. 537 in D
DISC 10: Brahms: Symphony No. 1, Op. 68 in C Minor Brahms: Symphony No. 2 in D, Op. 73
DISC 11: Brahms: Symphony No. 2 in D, Op. 73 Brahms: Symphony No. 3 in F, Op. 90 Brahms: Variations on a Theme by Haydn, Op. 56a
DISC 12: Brahms: Symphony No. 4 in E Minor, Op. 98 Brahms: Academic Festival Overture, Op. 80 Brahms: Tragic Overture, Op. 81
DISC 13: Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 15 Brahms: Violin Concerto in D, Op. 77
DISC 14: Brahms: Violin Concerto in D, Op. 77 Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 2 in B Flat Major, Op. 83
DISC 15: Weber: Konzertstück, Op. 79, for Piano and Orchestra Weber: Piano Concerto No. 1, Op. 11, in C Weber: Piano Concerto No. 2, Op. 32, in E-Flat Weber: Polonaise brillante, Op. 72, for Piano and Orchestra
DISC 16: Schubert: Symphony No. 1 in D major, D. 82 Schubert: Symphony No. 3 in D major, D. 200 Schubert: Symphony No. 8 in B minor, D. 759 "Unfinished"
DISC 17: Schubert: Symphony No. 2 in B flat major, D. 125 Schubert: Symphony No. 4 in C minor, D. 417 "Tragic"
DISC 18: Schubert: Symphony No. 5 in B flat major, D. 485 Schubert: Symphony No. 6 in C major, D. 589 "The Little"
DISC 19: Schubert: Symphony No. 9 in C major, D. 944 "The Great"
DISC 20: Schumann: Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 54 Elgar: Violin Concerto in B Minor, Op. 61
DISC 21: Mahler: Symphony No. 4 in G
DISC 22-23: Mahler: Symphony No. 8 in E flat "Symphony of the Thousand"
DISC 24: Sibelius: Symphony No. 1, Op. 39 in E Minor Sibelius: Symphony No. 4, Op. 63 in A Minor
DISC 25: Sibelius: Symphony No. 2, Op. 43 in D Sibelius: Symphony No. 6, Op. 104 in D Minor
DISC 26: Sibelius: Symphony No. 3, Op. 52 in C Sibelius: Symphony No. 5, Op. 82 in E-Flat
DISC 27: Sibelius: Symphony No. 7, Op. 105 Sibelius: Rakastava, Op. 14 Sibelius: En saga, Op. 9
DISC 28: Sibelius: Kullervo, Op. 7
DISC 29: Sibelius: Lemminkäinen-Suite (Lemminkainen Suite) op.22 Sibelius: Pohjolas Tochter (Pohjola's Daughter) op. 49 Sibelius: Der Barde (The Bard) op. 64
DISC 30: Sibelius: Karelia Suite, Op. 11 Sibelius: The Oceanides, Op. 73 Sibelius: Finlandia, Op. 26 Sibelius: Valse triste Sibelius: Tapiola, Op. 112 Sibelius: Nightride and Sunrise, Op. 55
DISC 31: Elgar: Symphony No. 1, Opus 55 in A Flat Major Rodrigo: Concierto de Aranjuez with Julian Bream
DISC 32: Elgar: Violin Concerto, Op. 61 in B Minor Elgar: Introduction and Allegro for String Orchestra and String Quartet, Op. 47
DISC 33: Berlioz: Overtures
DISC 34: Mozart: Arias
DISC 35: Mozart: Requiem, K.626
DISC 36: Beethoven: Missa solemnis in D major, Op. 123
DISC 37: Beethoven: Choral Fantasy, Op. 80
DISC 38: Brahms: Schicksalslied, Op. 54 Brahms: Rhapsodie für Altstimme, Männerchor und Orchester, Op. 53 Brahms: Nänie, Op. 82 Brahms: Gesang der Parzen, Op. 89 Brahms: Marienlieder, Op. 22
DISC 39: Brahms: Ein deutsches Requiem, Op. 45
DISC 40-41: Verdi: Messa da Requiem
DISC 42-44: Mozart: Le nozze di Figaro
DISC 45-46: Beethoven: Fidelio
DISC 47-48: Verdi: Falstaff
DISC 49-51: Wagner: Lohengrin