SHOSTAKOVICH: Symphony No. 9 in E Flat, Op. 70. Symphony No. 5 in
D minor, Op. 47. Symphony No. 8 in C minor, Op. 65. Suite from Hamlet,
WEINBERGER: Overture to a Chivalrous Play (1931). Six Bohemian
Songs and Dances (1929). Passacaglia for Organ and Large Orchestra (1932).
WAGNER: Tristan and Isolde
The powerful music of Dimitri Shostakovich is displayed in full majesty on this brilliant recording of three symphonies and excerpts from his incidental music for Hamlet. Andres Nelsons always has had keen interest in the Russian master's music.He already has recorded the two violin concertos (with Artabella Sterinbacher), Symphonies Nos. 7 and 10 with the City of Birmingham Orchestra (also music from Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk), and there is a video of his performance of Symphony No.8 with the Royal Concertgebouw taped at the Lucerne Festival in 2011 (REVIEW). Nelsons also has recorded Symphony No. 10 with the Boston Symphony, and now continues his series with this outstanding issue. The Boston Symphony is in top form and the recording made recently has captured their rich sonority with uncommon clarity and impact. And if you treasure music of Shostakovich, surely you should investigate the magnificent videos of all of the symphonies and concertos with Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra (REVIEW).
Czech-born Jaromir Weinberger (1896-1967) came to the United States in 1922 and quickly established himself in musical circles. He returned to his home county in 1936 and then wrote his opera Schwanda the Bagpiper, which became an enormous hit and was performed in most opera houses, including the Met where it was given 7 performances (and not heard since). A feature of the opera is the showpiece Polka and Fugue (which features an organ at the end) which is a display piece often heard in concerts and recorded often. In spite of Weinberger's fame and wealth in his native land, with the arrival of the Mazi regime he was forced to leave, and came to the U. S. and then it was all downhill. The American music world lost interest in his music and he eventually moved to Florida, where, in poor health, he died at the age of 71 from an overdose of sleeping pills, a sad ending to a musical career. He composed eight operas/operettas, dozens of orchestral works and concertos for various instruments. However, virtually none of this is performed today, and we are fortunate to have this fine Capriccio disk that offers what appear to be first recordings of three intriguing works. The sparkling overture was a hit when it appeared shortly after Schwanda. The Suite of six songs and dances, written in 1929 is also based on Czech folk tunes. Of particular interest is the Passacaglia for Large Orchestra and Organ dating from 1931. It contains fanfares reminiscent of Janacek. There are four sections: Intrada, Choral, Passacaglia and Fugue. Throughout the organ is used as a part of the orchestra rather than a solo instrument. There are some mighty climaxes; this work should be heard more often. Performances are superb, and the recording, made in Berlin's Jesus-Christus Church more than a decade ago, is of vivid sonic quality. Thanks, Capriccio, and may we have more music of this unjustly neglected composer?
Birgit Nilsson was the reigning Wagner/Strauss soprano for almost three decades—also the supreme Turandot. . Her remarkable performances have been captured on many commercial and live recordings Isolde was perhaps her greatest role; she made her famous Decca recording conducted by Solti in 1960. There are several other performances available on disc, and now this magnificent Bayreuth performance from 1962. The Swedish soprano was at the height of her career. She easily accommodates Böhn's leisurely tempi consistently pouring out a stream of glorious sound. At this time, tenor Wolfgang Windgassen also was at his peak, both vocally and dramatically; they make quite a pair of ill-fated lovers. The remainder of the cast is ideal. The recording is reasonably well balanced, good enough to convey the performance. There are no CD notes, only a skimpy booklet with track information and three photos, none of Nilsson. This is a major addition to the Wagner catalog—and it is a budget issue. What a pleasure it is to hear a Wagner Bayreuth production of Tristan as the composer intended—contrasted with the abomination they gave in 2005 (REVIEW).
REB (June 2016)