PORTS OF CALL -- Works of
Chabrier, Sibelius, Ibert, Alfvén, Borodin,
Smetana and Tchaikovsky
Eiji Oue (that's "AY-jee OH-way") leads the Minnesota Orchestra in another
potpourri CD for hi-end Reference Recordings, encoded two years ago in
Minneapolis' Orchestra Hall. Earlier, RR-71 offered Exotic Dances from
the Opera, while RR-79 appended music by Debussy, Chabrier, Schumann
and Ravel to the last-named composer's orchestral transcription of
Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition. The orchestra retains
its sleekness under the efficient, still-young Oue, Hiroshima-born and
a pupil of the same Hideo Saito who was Ozawa's sensei, although
Ref-Rec—how to say this?—has recorded them at some distance, as if
suspended somewhere between the main-floor and ceiling. Let me add,
however, that my system doesn't (by choice) have "surround sound,"
or special hardware to reproduce the "High Definition Compatible Digital"
process Ref-Rec uses. If I still cherish the sound that Aubord and
Nickrenz recorded for Vox, not only in Minneapolis but in St. Louis
and Cincinnati, that was in the dear dead days of analog.
Minnesota Orchestra/Eiji Oue, cond.
Reference Recordings RR-80 (F) (DDD) TT: 76:03
BUY NOW FROM AMAZON
To the business at hand, beginning with Chabrier's España
Rhapsody and ending with Tchaikovsky's Capriccio italien, Oue
and his orchestra since 1995 visit Finlandia, then the Mediterranean
of Ibert's Escales (which gives the collection its title), then
return to Scandinavia for Swedish Hugo Alfvén's Midsummer Vigil
(Revel would be an apter noun), after that head for The Steppes
of Central Asia explored by Borodin, and scull in Smetana's The
Moldau (sure'n this isn't Vltava) before joining Tchaikovsky's
holiday tour in Italy. On balance, unexpectedly, Sibelius receives the
most characterful performance. The rest, though, is mostly generic
music-making, of the kind that needs a score to differentiate Chabrier's
Aragon from Ibert's Valencia, the final port of call. Oue misses that
distinction, and numerous others across the map. A handsome program insert
has Music Appreciation-type annotations by Twin Cities' veteran Mary Ann Feldman
—knowledgeable but gushy.
R.D. (NOV. 1999)