STRAUSS: Sinfonia Domestica, Op. 53. Die Tageszeiten, Op. 76
Men of the Berlin Radio Chorus/Berlin Radio Symphony Orch/ Marek Janowski, cond.
PENTATONE SACD 5186 TT: 67:50
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MAHLER: Symphony No. 9 in D minor
Budapest Festival Orch/ Iván Fischer, cond
CHANNEL CLASSICS SACD CCSSA 36114 TT: 75:55
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NIELSEN: Sympony No. 1. Symphony No 2 "The Four Temperaments." Symphony No. 3 "Sinfonia espansiva." Symphony No. 4 "The Inextingishable." Symphony No. 5. Symphony No. 6 "Sinfonia semplice." Violin Concerto. Flute Concerto. Clarinet Concerto.
Erin Mrley, soprano. Joshua Hopkins, baritone. Nikolaj Znaider, violin. Robert Lang, flute. Anthony McGill, clarinet. New York Philharmonic/Alan Gilbert, cond.
DACAPO SACD 6.20000 (Four disks) TT: 72:23 / 69:20 / 71:25 / 73:16
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Strauss's autobiographical symphonic poem Sinfonia Domestica supposedly represents the composer's idyllic home life with interludes depicting the husband, wife, depicting , play of the child, a love scene and a ,joyous blissful conclusion. It is a grandiose orchestral showpiece. In the early days of LP he work was recorded by George Szell in Cleveland, Fritz Reiner in Chicago and Clemens Krauss in Vienna.There are a number of fine stereo recordings, particularly those by Lorin Maazel (particularly the live Concertgebouw performance), Zubin Mehta and Wolfgang Sawallisch. This new recording is led by another Strauss specialist, Marek Janowsky leading the Berlin Radio Symphony of which he has been music director since 2002. They play splendidly in this new recording and Pentatone's engineers have captured the performance with uncommon detail in this recording made Berlin radio studios October 2012 and June 2014. I would have preferred a more resonant acoustic, but what we hear is indeed impressive. Of major interest is the other work, Strauss's only choral cycle, The Times of Day. This was commissioned in 1922 by the Vienna Schubert Choral Society. TheFfour sections are Morning, Afternoon, Evening and Night. Some have called this work Strauss's Four Last Choral Songs, particularly because of the final song with its gentle beauty, glowing horns and twittering woodwinds. Texts and translations are provided. The male chorus sings with vigor as well as sensitivity. This is an essential disk for those who love music of Strauss, giving us an opportunity to hear a major work almost totally neglected in a perfect performance beautifully recorded. Don't miss this one!!

Ivan Fischer continues his Mahler symphony cycle with Symphony No. 9, a recording made November/December 2013 in Budapest's Palace of Arts. The rich sounds of the superb Hungarian orchestra are perfect for this symphony, and there is much to admire. However, there is keen competition on SACD notably from Markus Stenz and Cologne (REVIEW), Bernard Haitinks and the Royal Concertgebouw (REVIEW), and Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony (REVIEW) And there are magnificent DVDs, by Paavo Järvi and the Frankfurt Radio Orchestra (REVIEW), Ricardo Chailly with the Gewandhaus Orchestra (REVIEW )and, particularly, Claudio Abbado with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra (REVIEW). The latter is the one I prefer.

Over the past months this site has praised the Alan Gibert/New York Philharmonic series of all of the symphonies of Carl Nielsen. Now all of these including the concertos have been issued in a boxed set, five disks for the price of four. These are all near-perfect performances recorded with utmost realism, highly recommended.

R.E.B. (June 2015)

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