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S. Mitchell (Glasgow, Scotland)

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Prokofiev & Tchaikovsky Concertos
Prokofiev & Tchaikovsky Concertos
Offered by A2Z Entertains
Price: £10.05

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent readings of two mighty concertos., 18 Oct. 2014
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This terrific issue can't help being compared with the simultaneous release of the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No.1 by Simon Trpceski. As I said in my review of that disc, I found it disappointing and lacking in the volcanic, incandescent passion that has always distinguished the greatest performances, from Horowitz on. Well, here is one to join that august company. This is my 131st recording of the warhorse, and I would place it in the top 10 of my collection - a tremendous achievement, believe me. This young man has a stellar career ahead, as he negotiates (I hope - courtesy of Decca) the grand greats of the romantic concerto repertoire, e.g. the Rachmaninov 5 ; they may not appear any time soon, however, as Valentina Lisitsa's set has only a year ago appeared on Decca. Nevertheless, on the evidence of this disc, pianophiles will eagerly snap up anything this blindingly bravura virtuoso records. (He has, of course, already done an outstanding recital disc of Prokofiev and Liszt.) This Tchaikovsky is a winner on every count, not least the performance by the unknown Italian orchestra under the equally unknown conductor, Juraj Valcuha. These artists sound as if they are discovering the concerto for the first time, with marvellous, weighty sound (unlike the Royal Liverpudlians!) and attention to detail never before heard in the piece, despite its ubiquity for generations. Abduraimov himself has taken immense care in preparing his performance, as (to take one example) his astute, perceptive, original, and - above all - MUSICAL delivery of the first movement cadenza illustrates. Trpceski's account is simply eclipsed. As for the Prokofiev, this is just as impressive a triumph, and the support of the orchestra and Valcuha just as painstaking and satisfying. I must confess here to a little bias, perhaps. My own first recording of Prokofiev 3 on LP (first of now 48 versions) was that of the wonderful Van Cliburn, set down in the early 60s with Hendl and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. His approach, not particularly favoured at the time by critics (who hated his golden resurrection of glorious romantic piano sound and all the razzmatazz that surrounded his legendary achievements following his 1958 success in Moscow), - was expansive and warm, rather than percussive and steely. But I loved it , and still do. Abduraimov and Co. virtually replicate the Cliburn recording in every respect. Even the sound quality here, which is brilliant, is still not a noticeable advance on the RCA LP Cliburn of 1961.
So there we are - my personal reaction to one of the most memorable concerto collaborations of recent years. Decca have struck gold here, so let's hope they mine the seam richly and thus enrich all our lives as piano-lovers with the fantastic team captured on this recording. Don't hesitate to invest in this gem of a release.


Tchaikovsky: Piano Concertos 1 & 2
Tchaikovsky: Piano Concertos 1 & 2
Price: £15.87

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Tchaikovsky's mighty, charging warhorse is here a cute, cantering pony., 15 Oct. 2014
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I see that Simon Trpceski's Tchaikovsky One is now the 130th recording of this hoary, but ever-green masterpiece in my CD collection. The piece was my first purchase as a young teenager on LP, in the recording by Julius Katchen on Decca in 1958. This was by no means the finest of those I was subsequently to buy, though it did have features and miracles of pianistic virtuosity that nobody, even Horowitz, reproduced.
Simon, I'm sorry to have to admit to being distinctly underwhelmed by this version of Concerto No.1. Obviously some other reviewers think differently, and that's to be respected, for individual temperament and taste, even life-experience, will play a part in selecting a handful of favourites from among the sea of competing recordings of classic works that proliferate in this day and age. However, I can only say that whilst admiring the felicities and original touches of insight that freshen the score, the overall impact falls short of what I want in a "Desert Island Disc" version. The strings, moreover, seem to my ears a trifle underpowered, and the orchestral accompaniment a trifle routine, as if they've played the work once too often to summon up the excitement necessary to bring off a non-public performance. So, as other critics have said recently, I would concur that this is a fine performance, but not one of the greats.
Concerto No.2 is another matter. Even though this is a resuscitation of the (nowadays) disapproved-of Siloti Edition, with huge cuts in the slow movement, I found the performance fresher, more invigorating and more revelatory than that of the more famous 1st Conc. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that this work for many years, during the 1950s and 60s, was only available on LP in a mono DGG version played by Shura Cherkassky and the Berlin Phil. under Richard Kraus. It naturally holds a special place of affection in the hearts of Tchaikovsky-lovers of my own vintage, and the version of the score used was the Siloti Edition. So I don't feel so short-changed as those whose familiarity with the piece was formed by, say, Peter Donohoe in the 1980s. Simon's pianism here is superlative, and Petrenko's accompaniment and the RLPO's engagement have a greater sensitivity (I feel), as if they are discovering fresh pastures of the repertoire. Therefore, I would recommend the disc for the Second Concerto alone, with the First as an interesting, but not incendiary companion. So 4 STARS for Number 2 (because of Siloti), and 3 STARS for Number 1, which is (to me) more like - as they say in bibulous circles - 'vin ordinaire.'


Nelson Freire Radio Days - The Concerto Broadcasts 1968-1979
Nelson Freire Radio Days - The Concerto Broadcasts 1968-1979
Price: £13.25

19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Brazilian Horowitz Coruscates!, 17 Sept. 2014
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Superlatives begin to fail, in any appropriate assessment of this issue. Amazing, incredible, superhuman, fantastic - and so on - hardly do it justice. Why it's taken so long for these performances to hit the marketplace is a mystery, but now that they have, make no mistake, we are talking musical dynamite. 6 concertos, although watch out, the Schumann is not the favourite one in A minor, but the late Opus 134 entitled Concert Introduction and Allegro in D minor (lasting 13 minutes). I pounced on these discs as soon as they were announced because I've been an avid fan of Nelson Freire for 40 years, ever since on vinyl LP I invested in his coupling (on CBS) of the Grieg and the Tchaikovsky No.1 warhorses, conducted by the remarkable Rudolf Kempe. I see, incidentally, that these early recordings, with many others long hard-to-locate, are due to be reissued in September 2014, as another tribute to the pianist on his 70th birthday. More mouth-watering prospects for pianophiles! The other early LP of his that I treasured (available on CD)is his (TELEFUNKEN) recording of Villa-Lobos, on which he gave a spell-binding, never-rivalled-since, performance of that Brazilian's mammoth, solo piano masterpiece, the chaotic but hypnotic 'RUDEPOEMA' which was composed for Arthur Rubinstein.
In the years that followed Freire never got the exposure he deserved, only occasionally turning up, for example, in partnership with Martha Argerich, when the results were always absolutely stunning. Philips did, however, have the sense to include him in their 'Great Pianists of the 20th Century' project, and those 2 discs are a fine representation of the man's range and expertise. These recordings on Decca now complement a wonderful collection of performances that the company has been capturing, from Beethoven to Debussy and modern Braziliana, in recent years. They display this 'lion of the keyboard's' undimmed mastery of the piano in his full maturity, and all have rightly been ecstatically received and reviewed. They are utterly indispensable to any self-respecting piano-lover's library - real "Desert Island Disc" material.
But what to say about these half-dozen renditions for piano and orchestra? Well, I'll be honest and admit I've only heard 4 of them in the 2 days since they arrived. I have not listened yet to the 2 that interest me less, namely, the Chopin No.1 and the Schumann. But when I do, I expect without reservation to be enchanted, just as much as I've been flabbergasted and socked almost senseless by what I've heard in the other 4. Nelson Freire is the Brazilian Horowitz (with due respect to a host of virtuosi that country has produced down the years). And it's in the 2 'Horowitz classics' - Tchaik. One and Rach. Three - that he astounds the most.
Not that his Liszt 2 and Prokofiev 1 are to be lightly dismissed. They are thrilling. But with the 2 "Horowitziana" we are transported on to another plane, even if, like me, you have heard these masterpieces hundreds of times , know every note and possess shelf-loads of different recordings of them from every era and corner of the globe. Freire's 2 public concert performances here, from the 1970s under the first-rate conductorship of Kurt Masur and David Zinman, immediately propel them into the select top-10-choice bracket. They were both public performances and that explains the high-adrenalin excitement of both, so necessary for the explosive impact you need to get from these amazing scores. OK, there are a few coughs (French and Dutch ones, I guess), but nothing to spoil the exhilaration and memorability of these performances of distinction. This type of musical experience could never be replicated in the studio, and the secret of practically all the most distinguished recordings of these peaks of the piano concerto repertoire is the electricity that only the live occasion can generate. One word of advice, though: do not, as I did, listen to these in your car, unless you have supreme self-control. Some of the climaxes carry a charge of excitement that could seriously destroy your concentration on the road, and lead to a dangerous situation. I refer to the ends of the 1st and 3rd movements of the Tchaik. and the closing uproar of the Rach. 3!!
One amusing feature:- In the Rach.3, at the dramatic transition from the 2nd Movement (Intermezzo) into the Finale, when the pianist has to negotiate a treacherous, hair-raising cadenza culminating in an arpeggio up the keyboard that nearly rips out the keys and lands on a top B flat played by the left hand, Nelson hits a very exposed wrong note, what Horowitz would have called a "clinker." How desperately unfortunate. The poor guy must have felt suicidal in that split second. But, of course, no retake was possible in the live situation. So it's as if he said to himself (maybe in Portuguese) "***** ***** ******* What have I got to lose? To hell with all restraint, and let's go for it, with a finale that people will talk about to their grandchildren!!" And that's what follows. Pianism on a stratospheric level that even lesser but gifted artists who have essayed this concerto, and maybe even the composer himself, would just shake their heads at, with envy. The ghost of Rachmaninov must have wondered after this - "Did I really write that?" The overall timing of the Rach.3 is exactly 40 minutes, and I wondered in advance, fearfully, if this meant Freire had cut the finale in the way it was common to do up till about 1970. I needn't have worried, for despite the fast times of the 3 movements, NO CUTS were imposed. That tells you all you need to know about this guy's prodigious supremacy, married to poetry and sensitivity where required, - and all of it caught in top-notch recorded sound.
So thanks beyond measure to Decca for this offering, at bargain price, even though it's so late in coming.
This sort of thing is what makes CD collecting, and indeed the marvellous world of classical music, so endlessly thrilling and life-enhancing. Meanwhile, Nelson, - and Decca - please give us more of this tiger-of-a pianist. Any repertoire will do. Take advance orders now for whatever his next project will be. A piano-phenomenon like this, even in his 70s, must be treasured and given the red-carpet treatment. Nelson - sincerest thanks for all you have contributed to (at least this) one admirer's happiness for 4 decades!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 8, 2014 10:52 AM BST


Christ Plays In Ten Thousand Places: A Conversation in Spiritual Theology
Christ Plays In Ten Thousand Places: A Conversation in Spiritual Theology
by Eugene H. Peterson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.28

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Fine in the main, but distinctly dodgy in its Hebrew and Greek, 10 Sept. 2014
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E. Peterson is acclaimed as an experienced pastor, and as an eminent academic whose paraphrase of the Bible (The Message) has made him a household name among Christians. I have found, in the portion of this book which I have so far read and pondered, much to thrill and stimulate in the poetic vision and penetrating insights of the author. However, I am extremely disturbed and unsettled by what I can only describe as 2 utterly incredible errors in his treatment of one Hebrew and one Greek word, errors which surely should be absent from one so steeped in translation from the Hebrew Bible and the Greek New Testament. And these are not passing slips, but fundamental insistencies on which superstructures of rich, pastoral teaching have been built: first, Hebrew NEPHESH is nowhere in all scripture, or in any cognate ancient Semitic language, found with the physical, anatomical meaning "NECK," as E.P, maintains. It always indicates something intangible and interior to man, such as soul, or the multiplicity of associated ideas that connect with 'soul.' So where on earth did our author get his extraordinary idea of 'neck' from ??? Secondly, the Greek word PERICHORESIS. It is nonsense to relate this patristic concoction (to describe the Trinity) to 'dance.' Its equivalent terms in English would be 'circuminsession, or 'coinherence.' PERICHORESIS consists of the preposition/prefix PERI, meaning 'round about,' and CHORESIS, an abstract feminine noun of the Greek 3rd Declension which is formed from the verb CHOREO, where both letters O are Omega, as in 'pole,'not Omicron. CHORESIS means 'a going, or movement,' and CHOREO is one of several Greek verbs meaning 'I come/go/ move/make my way/travel/progress/advance' - and so on. Related nouns are CHORION, a place, and CHORA, a country. 'Dance' is in Greek the easily confused verb CHOREUO, where there is an additional letter Upsilon (U), and the first O is Omicron pronounced as the 'o' in 'pot.' It is from this second word that 'chorus' meaning 'a dancing choir' comes. If there were any Greek word at all that meant 'dancing round each other' (that the Trinity is imagined to be doing), that word would be PERICHOREUSIS, not PERICHORESIS. This is all elementary stuff, that in my youthful days of studying Greek in Glasgow High School, any of the 12 guys in the class could have pointed out in their third year of study. Why E.Peterson hasn't grasped it is a mystery.


Medtner/ Rachmaninov: Sonatas [Steven Osborne] [Hyperion: CDA67936]
Medtner/ Rachmaninov: Sonatas [Steven Osborne] [Hyperion: CDA67936]
Price: £17.00

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Glorious Realisation of a Romantic Masterpiece., 3 Sept. 2014
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This individual conceptualisation of Rachmaninov's Second Sonata is a truly stunning achievement, sumptuously recorded and worthy of an honoured place in any pianophile's library of Rachmaninov's piano works. I myself have collected recordings of this sonata (and its masterpiece sibling, Sonata No.1, Op.28, in D minor, which it would be wonderful to hear Steven Osborne perform) for over 40 years, in all 3 versions, since the pioneering one on DGG LP by Roberto Szidon (unfortunately never issued on CD). In total therefore I have amassed some 60 recordings, all (bar a few) precious for some insight or other. This latest, unique in that Osborne has devised his personal conflation of the original and revised versions (of 1913 and 1931), must go to very nearly the top of my shortlist of favourites. He has the technique, stamina, poetic resource, and all-round stellar virtuosity, coupled with an instinctive 'Rachmaninov sound' to make one long for his renditions of the entire oeuvre, plus the concertos. He has, of course, already given us the complete Preludes, and these rightly garnered rave reviews. The more advanced Corelli Variations, the genius composer's final solo piano work, is just as subtle and memorable, as are also the Medtner Skazki and Sonata Romantica. Hyperion are to be congratulated on giving this pianist the freedom to record this repertoire, when their catalogue already carries versions by others of the same works which are scarcely populist or mainstream. This disc merits every accolade and award that will surely come its way.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 7, 2014 10:20 PM BST


Debussy: Piano Works [Nino Gvetadze] [Orchid Classics: ORC100041]
Debussy: Piano Works [Nino Gvetadze] [Orchid Classics: ORC100041]
Price: £15.77

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sublime Poetess of (almost) Superhuman Subtlety., 20 Aug. 2014
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Sublime Poetess of (almost) Superhuman Subtlety.

Here is a disc of purest piano-perfection. Having listened to it right through at one sitting, I can state that it has been one of the most perceptive, satisfying, seductive - indeed hypnotic - and rivetingly delightful discs of piano-playing I've encountered in a long time. Every one of these 18 miniature masterpieces emerges fresh, like finest jewels expertly sculpted. Not even the most familiar of them (like Arabesque 1, Cathedrale Engloutie, Fille aux Cheveux de Lin, Clair de Lune) fail to captivate and enchant the ear, such is the astonishing poetry, intense attention to detail, stunning control and superb virtuosity that this young lady consistently demonstrates. Layer upon layer of Debussy's sound-world is probed with unsurpassable skill, reverence for the composer's genius and unfailing instinct for the great man's intentions.
This is an absolute triumph of a disc, exciting hopes that, despite the plethora of fine recordings of Debussy's complete piano works (all of which I possess, and all of which have something special to offer), Nino Gvetadze will go on to record the rest of his output, probably on 3 more CDs. And not only Debussy, please.
For here is a talent of rarest quality that must be nurtured, encouraged and hailed for what it surely is - a wondrous artistic phenomenon of our time, even though concert pianists of stellar potential seem to pop up every other month! This girl could make Carl Czerny's '40 Daily Studies' sound like vintage inspiration!!
Special congratulations should also go to Guido Tichelman and Ehud Loudar, the hidden magicians on the technical side behind this finished product. To you too, Orchid Classics, warmest thanks for introducing us to the rich, inexhaustible pleasure this blossoming artist is able to give. Her previous 3 CDs (of Rachmaninov, Mussorgsky and Liszt) were extremely impressive. But her Debussy tops them all.


Rachmaninov: Piano Concertos 1-4, Rhapsody on a theme of Paganini
Rachmaninov: Piano Concertos 1-4, Rhapsody on a theme of Paganini
Offered by STRADIVARIUS
Price: £20.70

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ruled out by a cut in Rach. 3, 11 Jun. 2014
Simon plays excellently throughout, but is hampered by a poorly recorded piano, lacking depth. Is it a Baldwin, not a Steinway??? But crucially, he observes a cut in the finale of No.3 which is outrageous these days. No set can be considered a first choice that allows this. This is a great shame, as the accompaniments under Slatkin are second to none. An ideal world would have Slatkin conducting, and Lisitsa playing solo!!!


Rachmaninoff: Piano Sonatas [Xiayin Wang] [Chandos: CHAN 10816]
Rachmaninoff: Piano Sonatas [Xiayin Wang] [Chandos: CHAN 10816]
Price: £15.75

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very impressive, if not quite ideal., 10 May 2014
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First - the Amazon 'Product Description' has confused this Rachmaninov CD with another chamber disc. Ignore it. The facts are : Xiayin Wang plays Rachmaninov's Piano Sonatas, No.1, Op.28, in D minor, and No.2 (revised version of 1931), Op.36, in B flat minor : plus 3 Preludes from Op. 23, Nos. 4,5,& 6.
Now to business. These mighty, magnificent Everest-peaks of piano literature require, needless to say, the ultimate virtuoso technical equipment to do them justice, and to leave the listener in no doubt about their greatness as creations of a genius composer whose mastery of the piano made him very likely the greatest keyboard executant of the 20th century. Sonata No. 2 has received an avalanche of recordings since the pioneering LP by Roberto Szidon in 1970. Pianists have the choice of the titanic original (1913), the revised and clarified version of 1931, or the Horowitz edition, an amalgam of the first two. Miss Wang opts for the revised. Only one version of Sonata no.1 is available to play, and even by Rachmaninov's cruelly demanding standards, it presents a formidable challenge. Horowitz never touched it. Of the 31 recordings of No. 1 that I possess, only a tiny number are by women, and that tells you something. The stamina required to bring it off with all the necessary aplomb is likely to be the preserve of only a few masculine physiques such as Ogdon (on RCA), Weissenberg, Howard, Neiman, Minaar, Paik, and Ponti. The acid test is the finale, where the martial episode, like that in the 3rd Concerto, exposes the slightest shortfall in sheer manic strength. Xiayin Wang, whose recent discs I have warmly commended before, does a valiant job, and earns herself a place among my personal top 6, but at one or two crucial places she just fails to clinch the excitement. Her poetry is wonderful (though perhaps maturer acquaintance with Opus 28 will reveal to her deeper levels of serenity in the middle movement), and her bravura second-to-none in most of the strenuous stretches of this long score. I missed, however, an important left-hand melody foretaste of the second movement's theme on the final page of the first movement. Sonata No. 2 is proof of the colossal gifts of Miss Wang, even if some faster runs seem to be rather skitterish and over-fast. The finale opening has a motivic theme in the key of G Flat which requires an enormous right-hand stretch, like the composer's own, and I doubt if this player possesses it, so she has had to simplify things slightly. But the overall impact, as on her previous Rachmaninov disc, is overwhelming, and if you really want to hear just what sort of prodigious talent Chandos have signed up here,
just listen to the rendition of the famous G minor prelude, Op. 23 No.5. She despatches it like it was 'Chopsticks,' with a verve and triumphant conquest of its stern difficulties that many male pianists would give their eye teeth to rival. It could be the best performance since Richter in the 1960s, were it not for the awesome one by Denis Matsuev a year or two ago. The Chandos sound is absolutely state-of-the-art.
More Xiayin Wang, please!


Bartók: Piano Concertos Nos. 1-3
Bartók: Piano Concertos Nos. 1-3
Price: £7.60

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Revelatory Bartok, 19 April 2014
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I began my acquaintance with Bartok's First Piano Concerto away back in the early 1960s when the "Third Programme" (now BBC Radio 3) broadcast a concert performance featuring the legendary Hungarian virtuoso and teacher Andor Foldes. Shortly after, I acquired the LP (still available on CD) benchmark recording with Geza Anda (piano) and Ferenc Fricsay conducting. I never quite got into the full excellencies of this thorny work (described by an early critic as a mass of unmitigated ugliness) in that Anda version. And so, down the decades intervening, I have steadily amassed, in my addictive dedication to all quality piano concertos, many renditions of this Bartok masterpiece, so that now I possess 19. To my shame and regret, however, I had never till now bothered with the Jeno Jando disc. But thanks to a recent discovery of an early (possibly pre-Naxos ??) version by him of Tchaikovsky's First, which is in the Horowitz league, I've been exploring his discography with special interest - and finding wonderful riches at bargain prices!
Bartok One has never sounded so viscerally exciting, musically integrated and fascinatingly riveting as a masterwork from the pen of one of music's supreme geniuses. That early critic joins the infamous brigade of ill-informed, vitriolic idiots who open their ignorant, imperceptive mouths after one listening and then eructate a stream of utter nonsense. Music's highways are littered with the fecal residue of such moronic pseudo-criticism. Think Rachmaninov or Tchaikovsky, Respighi or George Lloyd - just for starters - and the brickbats they endured. Thankfully, Fate usually has the last laugh. So congratulations to this team of full-blooded, Hungarian maestros for revelatory performances of 3 peaks of their greatest musical son's inspirations.
And I haven't even mentioned the 2nd and 3rd Concertos - equally authentic, equally fine, equally wonderful money's worth. Sorry, once again , for failing for so long to appreciate the treasure under my nose. Anybody else out there in a similar position should not hesitate to buy, and savour. Jeno Jando has to be just about the most under-rated, under-celebrated master of the keyboard in our time. Perhaps the Naxos-connection, with all its unfair and undeserved image from the early days of CD, is partly responsible. But its history of steady improvement and adventurous repertoire for affordable prices has turned it into one of the most remarkable, potent forces for good to humanity in the last 50 years. Klaus Heyman, its founder, deserves the Nobel Peace Prize!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 20, 2014 2:23 AM BST


Respighi: Fontana di Roma / Feste Romane / Pini di Roma
Respighi: Fontana di Roma / Feste Romane / Pini di Roma
Price: £18.38

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Respighi let-down., 3 April 2014
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I am sorry to part company with the two other reviewers of this disc, but in my opinion, as a lover of Respighi's Roman Trilogy for over half a century, and an eager purchaser of all new recordings of these masterpieces, there is no way this issue goes to the head of the recommendations list. True, Svetlanov's earlier performances with the USSR State Symphony Orchestra were a travesty and did his reputation no good whatever, as well as being an insult to the composer, who deserves artists of the finest quality, virtuosic playing of the highest order and sound which is state-of-the-art. Plus an organ, of course, for all three works. The skills of the Swedish orchestra here are far superior to the Russians, I agree, and the engineering is a huge advance. But listen - why does Svetlanov take 74 minutes over the trilogy, when the standard timing is about 61 ???? Answer - he adopts ponderous speeds which are almost ludicrous at times. These pieces need swashbuckling, no-holds-barred, hair-let-down, hell-for leather, go-for-it virtuosity - the kind Antal Dorati could conjure from his Minneapolis Symphony in 1954. Svetlanov drools and lingers lovingly over Respighi's divinely felicitous scoring and produces marvellous beds of richest orchestral sound in the quiet passages, but he needs to complement that with explosive excitement and edge-of-seat thrills when the music demands. Here, I could hardly believe what I was hearing at some points - not to mention inevitable coughing from a live audience and frequent moaning and groaning from the conductor. Respighi's art is perfect enough without additional intrusion from external sources. 2 other things about Pines: the pre-recorded nightingale in the 3rd movement is far too loud, and the very final chord of the last movement is prolonged far beyond what the score directs, though given the excitement of the live occasion, this is understandable and not unwelcome. Also, although the sound-quality is superb, I'm not convinced the balance is ideal, with its emphasis on bass frequencies sometimes at the expense of the string choir.
So , sorry, gentlemen. There are many preferable first choices out there in these wonderful pieces, and I would be sorry to think somebody interested in exploring them for the first time was being pointed in the direction of this particular CD.
It is a curiosity and reasonable tribute to the art of a great Russian conductor in his last years, but no great service to the marvellous composer whose stature and amazingly multi-faceted talent we have been coming to appreciate over recent decades. I fear this recording almost supports the sneering, supercilious pseudo-criticism of Respighi we used to hear 40 years ago.
Comment Comments (7) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 26, 2014 2:59 PM GMT


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