STRAUSS: Suite from Der Rosenkavalier. Till Eulenspiegel's Merry
Op. 28. Four Last Songs.
MAHLER: Symphony No. 7 in E minor
WAGNER-VLIEGER: Parsifal "An Orchestral Quest." Overture
and Venusberg Ballet Scene from Tannhäuser. Prelude to
Act III of Lohengrin.
The enterprising Bavarian Radio BR Klassik label offers not only recent concert performances by their orchestra, but many from the past as well, with conductors Eugen Jochum, Kiril Kondrashin, and Rafael Kubelik. This new issue offers recent recordings of music by Richard Strauss conducted by Mariss Jansons who has been chief conductor of the orchestra since 2003. The Rosenkavalier suite is from October 2006 concerts, Till Eulenspiegel and Four Last Songs, with German soprano Anja Harteros, are from March 2009. Jansons has a tendency to micro-manage scores, and although all of this music surely is well played, the minute pauses disrupt the music's flow. Harteros, known particularly for her Mozart, has a large voice that sometimes is inappropriate for the many intimate moments of these songs. She is more at home as Elizabeth in the DVD of the recent Munich production of Lohengrin (REVIEW).
Neemi Järvi is not known for his interpretations of Mahler, although he can be heard (and seen) on a recent DVD of a 2007 performance of the Resurrection filmed in New York's Riverside Church with members of various orchestras participating (REVIEW). This is excellent in every way, which cannot be said of Järvi's other Mahler recorded performances. His Symphony No. 6 is so rushed there is room for a filler on the disk! This new Symphony No. 7, recorded in June 2008 in The Hague, is a quick trip through this magic score, and even the three "night music" center movements are prosaic. Good sound, but there are many other recommendable versions, particularly the Mariss Jansons SACD with Bavarian forces, and on video don't miss Claudio Abbado and Bernard Haitink.
Järvi also is in a hurry in the Chandos Wagner disk, that features Henk de Vlieger's arrangement of music from Parsifal into an "Orchestral Quest." Vlieger, principal percussionist of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, also made arrangements of two other Wagner scores including The Ring and Tristan and Isolde; the latter was reviewed on this site in 1999 when it was first issued (REVIEW). All three "suites" were issued on RCA with Edo de Waart and the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, all long out-of-print. Now Parsifal returns and is given the Järvi rush-through. The majesty of this magnificent music won't be found here, unfortunately. The Tannhäuser and Lohengrin excerpts fare much better, and audiophiles will delight in the warm, spacious acoustics.
R.E.B. (September 2010)