BERLIOZ: Symphonie fantastique, Op. 14
BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 4 in B flat, Op. 60. Symphony No. 7 in A, Op.
BALDASSARE: Sonata No. 1 for Cornetto, Strings and Continuo. HERTEL:
Trumpet Concerto in E Flat No. 1. MARCELLO: Adagio from Concerto No. 3
in D minor. TARTINI: Trumpet Concerto in D. NERUDA: Concerto in E flat
for Trumpet and Strings. J.S. BACH: Air on a G String from Suite in D.
HANDEL: Suite in D for Trumpet, Strings and Basso Continuo.
Sir Colin Davis's recording of Symphonie fantastique was made January 7-10, 1974, sessions that also produced the conductor's magnificent recording of Beethoven's Violin Concerto with Arthur Grumiaux as soloist which also is available on SACD (REVIEW). The Dutch orchestra had made three previous recordings of the Berlioz with Eduard van Beinum, in 1943 and 1946 on 78's, and in 1951 for LP—and would make one more afterwards, a live performance with Mariss Jansons in June 1991, about a decade before he became Chief Conductor of the Concertgebouw. The Davis recording has been recognized as one of the finest ever made of this music—but now we have it on SACD and the improvement in sound is remarkable. Now there is a sense of space lacking before, and the wider dynamic range possible with the format. It is absolutely superb in every way. One wonders what other Davis treasures there might be in the vaults awaiting SACD release—perhaps his 1976 Sacre du printemps, or Petrushka from the following year? We can hope.
Last September we mentioned the first release in RCA's new Beethoven symphony cycle with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen directed by Paavo Järvi featuring symphonies 3 and 8 (REVIEW). Here is the next disk containing symphonies 4 and 7, and the high standards of the previous issue are maintained. Järvi's fast tempi throughout make this sound rather like Beethoven on steroids. There's not a moment of relaxation, even in the slow movements. Heavy timpani accents are heard throughout, and the superb orchestra accommodates the conductor's careful control of dynamics. These are not performances everyone will enjoy, but they surely are exciting. Engineering is excellent, although the allegretto of Symphony No. 7 begins immediately after the last chord of the first movement.
Trumpet virtuoso Jens Lindemann has made many recordings as a member of Canadian Brass. On this new Marquis SACD he collaborates with seven first-class colleagues in arrangements (presumably by Lindemann) of baroque/classical works for single instruments on each part. The ensemble played these works for the first time during these recording sessions (the two horns are heard only in the Tartini concerto). Brilliant playing as one would expect, and an intriguing approach to this music, very well recorded although all performers are in front. The only negative is the rather short playing time (57:14) for a full-price disk.
R.E.B. (February 2008)