Nicola Beneditti (b. 1987) has received many awards including the 2004 BBC Young Musician of the Year Award. She already has several recordings for Decca, and now we have her latest, this brilliant account of one of the most challenging of all concertos for her instrument, Shostakovich's Concerto No. 1. This was written with David Oistrakh in mind in 1947, but Shostakovich didn't complete it until 1955. At the violinist's request, Shostakovich added a brief orchestral introduction to the dazzling finale, reportedly to give the soloist a respite from the demanding third movement cadenza. Oistrakh gave the premiere and shortly afterwards gave the American premiere with Dimitri Mittropoulos and the New York Philharmonic, and their Sony recording of the time is still available, along with many other live performances with Russian conductors. Beneditti is in top form here, challenging Hilary Hahn's recent Sony Oslo recording. Hahn coupled the Shostakovich with a romantic staple, Mendelssohn's Violin concerto; Beneditti does the same, the Glazunov charming Concerto in A minor. Superb audio throughout; a worthy release. If you are particularly interested in the Shostakovich, you might check out the amazing video with Vadim Repin, Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra (REVIEW). Theere also is a video with Hilary Hahn, Martiss Jansons and the Berlin Philharmonic (REVIEW). It always is a pleasure to watch a master violinist tackle this remarkable concerto.
The Seattle Symphony has issued this new recording on their own label recorded September 25 2015 in the St. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium, Benaroya in Seattle. This is the orchestra's second recording of Petrushka; they recorded it in 1986 for Naxos with Gerard Scfhwarz on the podium, a recording reissued just a few years ago. This new performance is led by French conductor Ludovic Morlot, now in his fourth season as music director. This is a fine Petrushka, but there are dozens of competing recordings available, some on SACD, a technology that permits more vivid sonic recreation of the dazzling score. The coupling is a Debussy rarity, he little-known children’s ballet , La boite a joujoux (The Toy Box). He had been approached by famous author/illustrator André Heller in 1913 who requested music to accompany the author's new children's' book. Debussy agreed and wrote a series of brief piano pieces, one for each illustration. There are six sections: Prelude, The Toy Store, The Battlefield, The Sheepford for sale, After Fortune Made, and Epilogue. Debussy began to orchestrate it, but after his death in 1918, André Caplet finished the orchestration. It is charming in its own quiet, docile way, but there is good reason for its neglect. It is played to perfection on this new disk, and this modern recording is welcome.
Several years ago this site praised Thomas Dausgaard's DVD of symphonies of Brahms, Dvorak, Nielsen and Sibelius with the Danish National Radio Orchestra (REVIEW); also SACDs of many symphonies of Langaard. This fine young conductor is now principal guest conductor of the Seattle Symphony and here we have the conductor's first major Mahler recording, Symphony No. 10 recorded during concerts in their hall November 19, 21 and 22, 2015. Dausgaard has selected the Deryk Cooke perfomance version, . I remember the BBC 1960 broadcast, at which time the transcription was highly criticized by some. I find it very effective. Eugene Ormandy gave the American premiere in Philadelphia November 5, 1965; I was fortunate enough to attend their concert performance in Baltimore's Lyhric Theater that year, the same year they made their Columbia recording. This, unfortunately, was poorly recorded, although recent reissues have improved the sound. There is no problem whatever with audio quality of this new Seattle release, with those famous bass drum whacks in the finale heard with remarkable solidity. This is a fine performance of Mahler's last symphony. Remember that in 1978 James Levine made a recording of this symphony with the Philadelphia Orchestra for RCA, available at budget price. I look forward to future Seattle Symphony releases. Perhaps they will record them on SACD which would be a definite plus.
R.E.B. (July 2016)