GLAZUNOV: Violin Concerto in A minor, Op. 82. TCHAIKOVSKY: Souvenir d'un Lieu Cher, Op. 42. Violin Concerto in D, Op. 35.
Vadim Gluzman, violin; Bergen Philharmonic Orch/Andrew Litton, cond.
BIS SACD 1432 TT: 70:58
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BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 3 in E flat, Op. 55 "Eroica." 12 Contretänze, WoO 14. Finale from Prometheus Ballet.
Helsingborg Symphony Orch/Andrew Manze, cond.
HARMONIA MUNDI SACD HMU 807470 TT: 70:07
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BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 7 in A, Op. 92. WEBER: Adagio from Clarinet Concerto in F minor. ROSSINI: Overture to L'Italiana in Algeri. WILMS: Rondo from Sinfonia for Grand Orchestra in C minor, Op. 23.
Akos Acs, clarinet; Budapest Festival Orch/Iván Fischer, cond.
CHANNEL CLASSICS SACD CCSA 25207 TT: 60:50
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For his first concerto recording young Israeli violinist Vadim Gluzman has chosen these works by Tchaikovsky and Glazunov. Gluzman has a staggering technique, and very specific imaginative ideas on interpretation. His rich tone is vividly displayed in both of these concertos, the Tchaikovsky in particular receiving a unique and tremendously exciting interpretation. The finale to the Tchaikovsky is particularly vivid, and Gluzman's performance is a strong challenge to SACD issues of this concerto featuring Joshua Bell and Julia Fischer. Litton and the superb Bergen Philharmonic are in top form; the BIS surround sound is excellent. Also included is Glazunov's arrangement for violin and orchestra of the lengthy (17:29) Souvenir d'un Lieu Cher, Op. 42 (which is included on Julia Fischer's recording in the original form for violin and piano). BIS's surround sound is excellent with the soloist perfectly placed. Highly recommended!

Harmonia Mundi's Beethoven SACD features all orchestral music Beethoven composed in which he used his "Eroica" theme (the non-orchestral work was his piano variations, Op. 35). From a programming standpoint this is of modest interest, but this small-scale performance of the mighty Symphony No. 3 cannot match the grandeur of SACD versions conducted by Bernard Haitink, Paavo Järvi, Kurt Masur, Osmo Vänskä or the latest Eroica conducted by Philippe Herreweghe. Conductor Andrew Manze wrote notes for his new recording analyzing the music and justifying his interpretation, but I imagine most listeners would prefer any of the competing SACD versions, not to mention the magnificent older recordings including those by Mengelberg, Toscanini, Karajan, Erich Kleiber and a host of others.

We already have had a series of superb recordings from Iván Fischer and the first-class Budapest Festival Orchestra including Mahler's Second and Sixth symphonies, Rachmaninoff's Symphony No. 2 and a resplendent version of Strauss's Josephslegende. Here is their version of Beethoven's Symphony No. 7 recorded in Budapest's Palace of Arts in September 2006. A splendid performance if not a great one. The coupling is fine as far as it goes. Producer Hein Dekker has selected music written at the same time as Symphony No. 7. We have a movement from Johann Wilhelm Wilms' Sinfonia No. 4, Rossini's overture to L'Italiana in Algeri, and the adagio from Weber's Clarinet Concerto No. 1 with Ákos Ács as soloist. Why not the entire work? Playing time for this premium-priced SACD is less than 61 minutes. And if you wish to hear a fine performance of Beethoven's Seventh in spectacular surround sound, investigate the Tacet recording with Wojcich Rajski and the Polish Chamber Philharmonic, perhaps difficult to obtain, but worth the effort (see REVIEW).

R.E.B. (April 2008)

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