DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 483 5345 (6 disks)

SHOSTAKOVICH: Symphony No. 4 in C minor, Op. 43. MAHLER: Symphony No. 10 in F-sharp minor/major.BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 8 in F, Op. 93. TCHAIKOVSKY: Francesca da Rimini, Op. 32. TURNAGE: Piano Concerto. BARTÓK: Concerto for Orchestra. DVORÁK: Stmphony No 8 in G, Op. 88. BRUCKNER: Symphony No. 8 in C minor. DEBUSSY: Three Nocturnes for Orchestra. HAYDN: Symphony No. 44 in E minor.

The Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, founded in 1918,is celebrating its centenary and to mark this, DGG is releasing this set of live recordings made when it was led by Yannick Nézet-Séguin, The Rotterdam ensemble has become one of Holland's leading orchestras and made many recordings. They perform regularly the orchestra's concert hall, De Doelen, a venue with excellent acoustics.

In my early days of collecting, I recall their live performance of Mahler's Symphony No. 6 from the 1955 Holland Festival , a pioneering recording conducted by then Music Director Eduard Flipse. Flipse led the orchestra 1930 - 1962. Later Music Directors were Jean Fournet (1968-1973), Edo de Waart (1973-1979), David Zinman (1979-1982), James Conlon (1983-1991), Jeffrey Tate (1991-1995), Valery Gergiev (1995-2008), and Yannick Nézet-Séguin (2008–2018). Nézet-Séguin, now a major conductor, is Music Director of the Philadelphia Orchestra and Music Director of the Metropolitan Opera with a four-year contract beginning in 2020.

This new set offers live performances never before issued, chosen by the conductor. We have symphonies by Haydn, Beethoven, Mahler,Bruckner, Shostakovich and Dvorák along with Bartók's Concerto for Orchestra, Tchaikovsky's Francesca Rimini and Debussy's Nocturnes. Unusual is the world premiere e of Mark-Anthony Turnage's Piano Concerto, composed for Marc-André Hamelin. Turnage composed it in memory of his mentor, Hans Werner Henze, and the second movement is called Last Lullaby for Hans. There are moments of jazz throughout. Supposedly it explores "the vast range of musical ideas a piano can express." This is no major addition to the repertory. I cannot imagine any other pianist who would wish to play it, although Hamelin and Nézet-Séguin are repeating it in Philadelphia.

There is a 20-page booklet, 3 of which are about the orchestra and conductor, given in three languages. No program notes are provided, and producers don't even identify that the Mahler 10 is the Deryck Cooke version. Excellent audio, although one wonders why this new set was not issued on SACD; surely original recordings were made in that format. This is a semi-budget issue. On You-Tube you can see a complete performance of the Mahler, filmed in the Concertgebouw, obviously not the one included in this set. Also on You Tube you can see the conductor discussing this symphony. Surely worth a view!

R.E.B. (September 2018).