The Critic's Chair series ended in March 2015.
This week, Erica Challis presents The Critic's Chair
BARTOK: Concerto for Orchestra; Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta
Baltimore Sym Orch/Marin Alsop
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra with Marin Alsop play Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra and his Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta with great clarity and quality. If there’s one complaint I could make, it’s that Alsop’s approach is almost too grounded; on the other hand, in this new recording you can hear everything so beautifully.
SAINT-SAËNS: Le Rouet d'Omphale Op 31, La Jeunesse d'Hercule, Une nuite à Lisbonne Op 63, Phaéton, Danse macabre, Air & Dance Bacchanale, from Samson & Delilah, La princesse jaune, Overture, Spartacus, Overture
Royal Scottish National Orch/Neeme Jarvi
(Chandos CHAN 5104)
The wonder of this recording is the bright colours applied with a dancing feather-light touch. Despite some rough edges, I think few performances could match that combination of zest and delicacy that Jarvi was able to create with his players here.
DVORAK: Stabat Mater Op 58
Janice Watson (sop), Dagmar Peckova (mezzo), Peter Auty (ten), Peter Rose (bass), London Philharmonic Choir & Orch/Neeme Jarvi
From the opening, conductor Neeme Jarvi builds phrases in little pointed sweeps and punches – as he did in the Saint-Saens disc. It’s a feature of his conducting – he keeps an easy almost swinging forward movement. This is a great disc from Jarvi and the London Philharmonic, performing Dvorak’s Stabat Mater.
Love and Longing
DVORAK: Biblical Songs; MAHLER: Ruckert Lieder; RAVEL: Shéhérazade
Magdalena Koženà (mezzo), Berlin Phil/Simon Rattle
(DG 479 0065)
Last year I very much enjoyed her contribution to another disc they recorded together, Ravel’s L’Enfant et les Sortileges, so I was happy to hear more of her here. The Berlin Philharmonic is great at backing the wonderful mezzo, Magdalena Koženà, with their big cushion of sound, as usual.