Archive for the symphony Category

Martinu: Symphonies Nos. 1-6 | BBC Symphony Orchestra | Jiří Bělohlávek, conductor

Posted in Orchestral, symphony with tags , , , on February 23, 2013 by orinococds

Martinu Symphonies | BBC Symph Orch | Belohlavek | Onyx 4061 | 3 cds | $NZ 49

John Button review for this cd in the Dominion Post in Feb 2012:

“The Onyx set of all six of Martinu’s symphonies is self-recommending. These splendid works were composed between 1942 and 1953, and each has a distinctive character that makes it a mystery why they appear so rarely in concert.

However, it was from concerts in 2009 and 2010 in the Barbican that these disks were taken, superbly spontaneous performances from the end of Jiří Bělohlávek’s reign at the BBC Symphony, and testimony to the quality of playing under his baton. An additional bonus is the very competetive price … so don’t hesitate – there is enjoyment aplenty in this well-recorded set.”

Recorded live at the Barbican in London, these recordings represent the first complete CD cycle of Martinu’s symphonies conducted by Jiří Bělohlávek. The critically acclaimed concerts were given to mark the 50th anniversary of Martinu’s death in 1959.

Martinu’s six symphonies are a major contribution to 20th-century symphonic literature, and yet are still undervalued. Spanning the years before, during and after the Second World War, they capture the turmoil, hopes and fears of the composer and his homeland – a homeland that suffered unimaginable cruelties under the Nazis. At the end of the war, Martinu was the only major Czech composer of his generation to have survived.

Yet through the underlying currents of menace in the later works, the irrepressible Czech spirit survives, and the country’s folk music is never far from the surface in these powerful and sincere works. As conductor Jiří Bělohlávek says ‘I personally love all of Martinu’s symphonies for the rich, colourful orchestration and undeniable Czech flair which always prevail in them, despite the fact that they also reflect the musical developments of their time.’

“Magic always happens when Belohlávek conducts the BBC Symphony Orchestra in Czech works…this set of Martinu’s six symphonies, taken from Barbican concerts last season, overflows with the same qualities that make the music so endearing: heart-warming ebullience, visionary fantasy, soaring passion, the most piquant orchestral colours.” The Times, 15th July 2011 ****

**** Sunday Times, 10th July 2011

“You won’t find a more persuasive champion than Belohlávek, who has the music in his blood. His skill at unravelling Martinu’s rhythmic and textural knots – evidenced time and again in these live performances by the BBC Symphony Orchestra – is such that you immediately sense the stature of the music.” Financial Times, 30th July 2011 ****

“Martin˚u’s symphonies tend to divide opinion and have not enjoyed anything like the same exposure as those of his Czech predecessor, Dvorak. But if anyone can find the key to their language, it is Jiří Bělohlávek…there is plenty of freshness, verve and expressive wisdom on this set.” The Telegraph, 4th August 2011

“The BBC Symphony Orchestra sounds consistently alert, nimble and alive to Martinu’s distinct musical moods…Bělohlávek demonstrates total commitment and concentration and his players are with him at every turn, captured in sharp sound that reveals the workings of the music. And since when did the BBC SO’s strings have such a chameleonic ability to twist and shade their collective mood? Impressive and charming.” Classic FM Magazine, October 2011 ****

“Belohlavek and the orchestra are superb in the first three symphonies. He captures Martinu’s shimmering, luminous orchestral textures and invests the pervasive ‘sprung’ rhythms of the faster movements with an infectious bounce. Belohlavek’s emotional engagement is always complete…and throughout the set, Belohlavek’s grasp of the trajectory of the symphonic argument is at all times apparent.” BBC Music Magazine, October 2011 *****

“Play them back to back and the inevitable risk is that they may all begin to sound too much alike, but such is Jiri Belohlavek’s skill as a Martinu interpreter that the effect is still of impressive stylistic variety…In short, Belohlavek and the BBC SO are now my top recommendation for the Martinu symphonies” Gramophone Magazine, October 2011


Tchaikovsky: Symphonies Nos. 1-3 | LSO | Valery Gergiev cond.- mid budget price

Posted in Orchestral, symphony with tags , , , on February 3, 2013 by orinococds

Tchaikovsky’s early trio of symphonies have long lived in the shadow of the three that followed. Valery Gergiev conducts outstanding performances of these earlier works with the LSO.

Tchaikovsky: Symphonies Nos. 1-3 | LSO

Tchaikovsky: Symphonies Nos. 1-3 | LSO | Valery Gergiev | LSOLive0710 | $NZ35 | 2 cds

Tchaikovsky’s symphonies 1,  2 & 3 are full of the rich expressive melodies, for which he had a natural talent, with influences of Russian nationalism and folk tunes, particularly in the ‘Little Russian’, No. 2. The choreographer George Balanchine exploited the dance-like nature of the Third Symphony by using it as the basis for the final part of his ballet masterpiece, ‘Jewels’.

“Gergiev can transform works that often seem problematic into something compelling and totally coherent. In this set, he does exactly that with the Third…which he not only reveals as a totally convincing reworking of traditional symphonic form…but links it dramatically with Tchaikovsky’s operas… both [the First & Second] are full of wonderful touches, of sharply etched detail, vivid colours and tremendous focused energy.” The Guardian, 6th September 2012 *****

“what lovely and characteristic things are to be found in them, how full of Tchaikovskian panache, melodic richness and rhythmic vitality they are, and how brightly they shine in these vivid performances” Sunday Times, 16th September 2012

“This budget-price, immaculately recorded double album is a revelation; Valery Gergiev’s pin-sharp attention to detail and rhythmic zest making each work seem much bigger and bolder than usual, far more than sequences of balletic interludes…Essential listening.” The Arts Desk, 30th September 2012

“Gergiev’s handling of dynamic is expert…the orchestra is at its best here” International Record Review, November 2012

“Gergiev’s frequent use of striking contrasts of tempos between themes, or even dramatic pauses, as in the slow movement, often makes Tchaikovsky’s First sound like a close relation to a Bruckner symphony. Yet, such is the affection with which Gergiev shapes this work that it never descends to bathos.” BBC Music Magazine, January 2013 *****

Bruckner: Symphony No. 7 | BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra | Donald Runnicles, cond

Posted in Orchestral, symphony with tags , , , on December 6, 2012 by orinococds
Bruckner: Symphony No. 7 | BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra | Donald Runnicles cond | Hyperion CDA67916 | 60 min | NZ $33

Bruckner: Symphony No. 7 | BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra | Donald Runnicles cond | Hyperion CDA67916 | NZ $33

Scotsman Donald Runnicles, chief conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, in his debut on the Hyperion label, in Bruckner’s most popular symphony—repertoire that is at the heart of his musical life, and in which he has few living equals. Recent concerts of the works of Bruckner and Wagner have received the highest critical praise, acknowledging the orchestra and their conductor as consummate performers of this music.

‘For an orchestra who hadn’t played Bruckner 7 since 1975, the BBCSSO sounded utterly on home territory. From the sumptuous opening cello theme to the finale’s noble fanfares, this was a spacious, tender and beautifully poised performance … it’s not often you hear cries of “encore” after a Bruckner symphony, but I would gladly have heard this one repeated in full’  Guardian

Strauss: Alpine Symphony | London Symphony Orch | Bernard Haitink (cond)

Posted in Orchestral, symphony with tags , , , on November 24, 2012 by orinococds
Cover Image

Strauss: Alpine Symphony | London Symphony Orch | Bernard Haitink (cond) | LSO Live 0689 | SACD | $NZ25

In his Alpine Symphony Strauss recounts an attempt to conquer the summit of an Alpine mountain. He infuses the score with numerous instrumental colours and rich combinations of sounds, evoking the images and events that take place on the trek. It was to be one of his final large-scale orchestral works and shows the last great German Romantic composer at the pinnacle of his art.

‘Even among some of the finest and classic recordings this new one has something special about it … Haitink and the LSO offer us a reading that unfolds with an almost effortless logic … a fine recording’ CD of the Week BBC Radio 3 CD Review

‘Another of those superb LSO Live recordings … gloriously atmospheric 5.1-channel DSD sound … The finest detail, colour and texture is apparent among the massed forces … the big, rich bass is just as thrilling as the scintillating resolution in the upper frequencies. The brass, in particular, sounds quite amazing … no one has quite Haitink’s sense of the piece as a rational symphonic argument … Admirers should not hesitate to acquire an archetypal example of Haitink’s unobtrusive podium manner’ Editor’s Choice & Disc of the Month Gramophone UK

‘Mastery is the word. This depiction of a mountain climb achieves the peak of orchestral expertise … it has immense grandeur.’ The Times, UK

Recorded live  June 2008, Barbican, London

Bruckner: Symphony No.4 “Romantic”

Posted in Orchestral, symphony with tags , , , on November 11, 2012 by orinococds

Bruckner Sym No. 4 | Philharmonia | Dohnanyi | Signum | $ NZ 33

Bruckner stands out from other 19th-century symphonists; his large-scale works demonstrate a unique fusion of conservative and radical elements, notably influenced by composers such as Wagner and Beethoven. He appended not only the title ‘Romantic’ but even included a programme for the Fourth Symphony, sometime after composition. Though he later withdrew it, the scenario is a mediaeval Romantic ideal, where knights awaken to the sound of horns, rejoice and repair to prayer, before the inevitable hunt and ensuing festivities.

“This is a powerful live account of Bruckner’s Fourth, played in the Robert Haas edition, as heard in 1881. By graduating both dynamics and intensity, von Dohnanyi studiously avoids that sense of periodic hiatus less attentive interpreters can often convey. The result is that the performance possesses a compelling feeling of being a singular rather than a disparate organism. Then there is the sound of the orchestra, opulently warm and satin-like. Von Dohnanyi avoids overplaying both the majestic elements and the religiosity of this music, maintaining the impetus in the opening movement. The finale becomes a vast, thrilling drama of tension and relaxation, and triumph.” The Times

“Recorded live at the Royal Festival Hall in 2008, this CD follows Christoph von Dohnanyi’s acclaimed Cleveland Orchestra Decca release in offering a relatively straightforward account of Bruckner’s Symphony No. 4 that aims for maximum structural cohesion. This strategy is particularly effective in the Finale where Dohnanyi avoids the stop-start approach favoured by some conductors, which brings greater cogency to the movement and making its climaxes, in particular the awe-inspiring coda, all the more overwhelming. Hardly surprisingly the audience responds extremely positively to the adrenaline generated by this coda, and for once the decision to retain applause on a recording doesn’t seem obtrusive.

Despite some wonderfully atmospheric horn playing in the opening passage, the first movement seems more routine and doesn’t really achieve the same level of intensity. Far more impressive is the slow movement. Although Dohnanyi’s tempo is quite slow (somewhat ignoring Bruckner’s marking Andante quasi allegretto), the performance is notable for some really sensitive chamber-music-like interaction between wind and strings and particularly subtle phrasing from the violas in the chorale melody.

The Royal Festival Hall doesn’t perhaps offer the kind of spacious acoustic most suited to Bruckner’s orchestration, and in some of the climaxes the sound is congested with the trumpets predominating at the expense of the horns. Nonetheless, this is a largely enjoyable performance, if not one that ultimately deserves to be considered as a serious alternative to the classic accounts from Karl Bohm (Decca) and Gunter Wand (BMG). “ BBC Music Magazine, Erik Levi


Mahler – Symphony No. 8; Symphony No. 10 (Adagio)

Posted in Choral, Orchestral, symphony with tags , , , on August 12, 2012 by orinococds

Mahler Symphony No. 8; Symphony No. 10 (Adagio). San Francisco Symphony |  Michael Tilson Thomas avie82193600212

Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony reach the culmination of their best-selling series of Mahler Symphonies with the Eighth, “Symphony of a Thousand”, coupled with the Adagio from Symphony No. 10.

View youtube clip showing the making of this recording here

Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony reach the 11th instalment of their award-winning Mahler cycle with a live recording of the mighty Eighth Symphony, “Symphony of a Thousand”, coupled with the Adagio from Symphony No. 10. This release marks the culmination of their recordings of the complete Symphonies; future recordings rounding out the series will include Des Knaben Wunderhorn with baritone Thomas Hampson, Rückert Lieder with mezzo-soprano Susan Graham, and Songs of a Wayfarer.

One of the most notable recording projects of our time, the series has been a world-wide commercial and artistic success, selling over 100,000 CDs. Every release has entered the top 10 of the Billboard Classical Chart, and the series has garnered four Grammy® Awards, a Gramophone Award, and numerous other international citations. As with previous MTT/SFS Mahler releases, the recording utilises Sony’s Super Audio 5.1 digital surround technology and can be listened to on both traditional CD as well as SACD players. The cover art continues the highly recognizable series concept.

Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 6 (full length) – Seoul Philharmonic in HD on YouTube

Posted in Orchestral, symphony with tags , , on June 27, 2012 by orinococds

Once upon a time you could watch this kind of thing on free-to-air television, although  in some countries that seems still to be possible. A lovely performance from a truly polished orchestra.

Click on the link below (blue highlighted) for the full symphony in Hi Def and good quality sound.

Chung Myung-Whun (Seoul Phil Orchestra Music Director & Permanent Conductor) | Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra| 16th May,2011. Korean Art Centre Concert Hall, Seoul Korea