STRAUSS: Don Juan, Op. 20. WAGNER: Wesendonck Lieder. BRAHMS: Symphony
No. 1 in C minor, Op. 68.
BRAHMS: Symphony No. 2 in D, Op. 73. JANACEK: Glagolitic Mass
STRAVINSKY: Le sacre du printemps. L'Oiseau de feu.
Mariss Jansons, Music Director of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, is a popular guest conductor in leading music centers, and here we have him conducting two Brahms symphonies. Symphony No. 1 is with the Vienna Philharmonic from concerts August 4 and 5, 2012 at the Salzburg Festival. These concerts also featured Strauss's Don Juan and Wagner's Wesendonck Lieder with soprano Nina Stemme. Symphony No. 2 was the opening work in a concert at the Lucerne Festival in KKL Concert Hall March 31, 2012, a program ending with Janácek's Glagolitic Mass with soloists and the Bavarian Radio Orchestra and Chorus. Powerful performances all, with both orchestras in top form, the Vienna Philharmonic in repertory very familiar to them (they have recorded the Brahms and Strauss dozens of times] in earlier years with legendary conductors—and of course mostly different personnel, but the tradition continues). At this point in her career, soprano Nina Stemmed has a troublesome uneven tone, but obviously this did not disturb Jansons or the audience. This performance of Brahms' Symphony No. 2 was lauded in the local press, and the concluding Janácek was called "a blistering performance," which it surely was. Jansons seems to be particularly involved with this odd choral work, and he had four perfect soloists, particularly soprano Tatiana Monogarova.. The Varhany organ solo was played is by lovely Iveta Apkalna, high up in the organ loft behind the orchestra, the only musician in a strapless evening gown. The chorus makes some exciting sounds indeed. . Excellent video and audio on both disks, although string sound during Brahms Symphony 2 is a touch strident.
This Mariinsky Ballet Stravinsky set was reviewed in November 2009 when originally issued (REVIEW). Now, perhaps because of the Stravinsky centennial, it has been reissued with a different catalog number. The only difference is that now it is a hard-bound jacket with a 30-page booklet about the music and its history with many photographs. If you already have the earlier issue, there is little need for this. And the performances are of extreme interest - the original Nijinsky choreography of Sacre has been recreated. The Firebird is presented in Michael Fokine's original version. And of course the performances have the ring of authority, beautifully filmed with excellent sound. This is an important issue essential for lovers of ballet.
R.E.B. (July 2013)