Navigation for The Critic's Chair

The Critic's Chair series ended in March 2015.

This week, Erica Challis presents The Critic's Chair

NaxosBARTOK: Concerto for Orchestra; Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta
Baltimore Sym Orch/Marin Alsop
(Naxos 8.572486)

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 Saens Chandos CHANSAINT-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.

LPODVORAK: Stabat Mater Op 58
Janice Watson (sop), Dagmar Peckova (mezzo), Peter Auty (ten), Peter Rose (bass), London Philharmonic Choir & Orch/Neeme Jarvi
(LPO 0062)

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.

Deutsche GrammophonLove 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.