BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 1 in C, Op. 15. Symphony No. 2 in D, Op. 36.
Symphony No. 3 in E flat, Op. 55 "Eroica." Symphony No. 4 in B flat, Op.
60. Symphony No 5 in C minor, Op. 67. Symphony No. 6 in F, Op. 68 Pastorale. Symphony
No. 7 in A, Op. 92. Symphony No. 8 in F, Op. 93 Symhony No. 9 in D minor,
SAINT-SAËNS: Symphony No. 1 in E flat, Op. 2. Symphony No 2
in A. Carnival of the Animals.
LANGGAARD: Prelude to Antichrist. STRAUSS: An Alpine Symphony, Op. 64.
Andris Nelsons has a full schedule as Music Director of both the Boston Symphony and the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestras. He also is a favorite in Vienna and has been chosen to direct the Vienna Philharmonic's 2020 New Year's Concert. Nelsons has appeared often with the famed orchestra and now, to commemorate the 250th anniversary of Beethoven's birth, they have recorded all of the symphonies. Recordings were made 2017 - 2019 in the Musikverein. As one would expect, these are vital, dynamic performances impeccably played. Beethoven at his most impressive, indeed. The engineers have captured a satisfying two-dimensional audio picture, and that is a disappointment. DGG has been making multi-track recordings for many years, and surely these performances were recorded in surround sound. However, they are not issued in that format. The five CDs are not SACD, and the Blu Ray audio disk also is only two-track? Why? Admirable performances for sure of Beethoven's masterpieces, but DGG's decision to limit the audio picture is incomprehensible. The set is issued at near-budget price and is a handsome large release with many photos and program notes.
This site praised a previous Utah Symphony recordings of Saint-Saëns that featured the mighty Symphony No. 3, and several shorter works: Trois tableaux symphoniques d'apr`es La foi, Op. 130, and Bacchanale from Samson and Delilah, Op. 47 (REVIEW). Now they continue their Saint-Saëns series with the first two symphonies coupled with the familiar Carnival of the Animals. This French composer wrote some magnificent music but, unfortunately, the first two symphonies are not among them. Some time ago this site mentioned a Pentatone SACD issue of the two symphonies with the Frankfurt Radio Symphony led by Eliahu Inbal (REVIEW). Thierry Fischer and his fine orchestra make a strong statement for these early symphonies, but no matter how well performed they are of limited interest. Which surely cannot be said of the delightfulCarnival of the Animals which is given a sparkling performance featuring the two pianists of the Utah Symphony: Jason Hardink & Lomi Kawshina. The recording was made live in Abravanel Hall in Salt lake Cit, and the engineers have provided a most realistic sound. Now perhaps Fischer and his ensemble will concentrate on other more worthy symphonic works of this French master.
Thomas Dausgaard's latest recording with the Seattle Symphony features Straus's An Alpine Symphony prefaced by the original version of the prelude to Rued Langgaard's opera Antichrist. This site has praised many of this conductor's recordings with various orchestras. In particular, in 2006, his DVD of Langgaard's masterpiece (REVIEW). Both works are live concert performances in Seattle's Benaroya Hal, the Langgaard April 2019, the Strauss in June 2017. Obviously Langgaard's opera means much to the conductor's Danish heritage and it makes an effective opening for this new release. It is followed by a grand performance of Strauss's An Alpine Symphony, but here competition is fierce. There are dozens of superb recordings of this massive work, many on SACD, some on DVD. The finest DVD is Christian Thielmann's with the Dresden State Orchestra (REVIEW). No question that the Seattle performance is among the finest. Engineers have captured a rich orchestral sound. This would be more competative had it ben issued multi-channel.
R.E.B. (January 2020)