Magazine article Gramophone

More from the Dutch Dream Team: A Richly Varied Anthology of Recordings by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra

Magazine article Gramophone

More from the Dutch Dream Team: A Richly Varied Anthology of Recordings by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra

Article excerpt

The seventh (and final) release in the series 'Anthology of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra' covers the first decade of the new millennium, which means, for starters, that we're talking excellent digital sound all the way. A good deal of the repertoire is 20th-century or beyond, Wolfgang Rihm's Marsyas for example (1998-99, with trombonist Reinhold Friedrich and George Benjamin conducting), which exists among Wagnerian shadows. Also well worth checking out is Theo Verbey's austere but brilliant 2007 Lied for trombone for orchestra, with Jorgen van Rijen and Markus Stenz conducting. Peter Schat's Third Symphony, another product of the late '90s (Hans Vonk conducts) adds a gamelan ensemble to an already colourful orchestra, with results that are often highly dramatic. Fast on its heals comes Mariss Jansons's finest contribution to the set (a Beethoven Ninth strikes me as rather tepid), Ravel's second Daphnis et Chloe Suite, the final 'Danse generale' raising a real storm. Lorin Maazel revels wholeheartedly in the various episodes that make up Strauss's Sinfonia domestica, the closing pages riotously upbeat, something that can also be said of Kurt Masur's way with Hindemith's wonderful Konzertmusik for strings and brass, music that finds both the orchestra and the hall responding handsomely to the composer's sonorous scoring.

It's wonderful to hear Paavo Berglund draw such broadly paced, ecstatic lines at the close of Sibelius's Fifth and Vesko Eschkenazy bring a combination of lustre and filigree to Szymanowski's First Violin Concerto with Sir Mark Elder cueing a very attentive accompaniment. Riccardo Chailly makes a compelling statement of Stravinsky's Oedipus rex, the hell-for-leather close of Act 2 being a highlight. Heinz Holliger feels the full expressive potential of Luciano Berio's dialogue with Schubert in Rendering and I loved Nikolaus Harnoncourt's characteristically inflected account of Haydn's Symphony No 97, the second movement both wittily pointed and high in dynamic shock value.

I never fail to marvel at how Lutoslawski's Piano Concerto crosses modernist and Romantic aesthetics, but it seems to, very successfully. Lars Vogt and Daniel Harding present an impressive performance, as do cellist Godfried Hoogeveen and Yan Pascal Tortelier in Henri Dutilleux's Tout un monde lointain. Zubin Mehta mostly has the measure of Bruckner's Eighth, with some rapt string-playing in the Adagio (especially before the build-up to the principal climax). I enjoyed the general intensity and opulent sound world of Rudolf Escher's Musique pour l'esprit en deuil (1943, under Bernard Haitink) and Thomas Ades's haunting Asyla circulates generously within the Concertgebouw's acoustic under Daniel Harding.

A coupling of Schumann's Second under Kurt Masur and Brahms's Fourth under Herbert Blomstedt finds me admiring the former's sense of architecture and the latter's spontaneity (especially in the fiery Scherzo). Equally impressive are Shostakovich's Symphony No 13 (again under Masur, with bass Sergei Leiferkus) and Britten's Sinfonia da Requiem with Stefan Asbury conducting, the 'Dies irae' second movement a fearsome tour deforce. Ivan Fischer leads an account of Mozart's Jupiter Symphony that while well played borders on routine, though he perks up considerably for a lively account of Schubert's Third. Well-negotiated readings of Busoni's Berceuse elegiaque under Ed Spanjaard and Prokofiev's Autumn provide contrasting studies in sombre shading, and the best element in Fabio Luisi's performance of Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde with alto Anna Larsson and tenor Robert Dean Smith is the conducting, where individual instrumental lines glow and the cumulative power of the work comes across without compromise, although the downside is Larsson's sometimes intrusive vibrato.

Other works included are by Debussy (an excellent La mer under Haitink), Janacek, Messiaen, Mayke Nas, Stravinsky, Webern and Rob Zuidam. …

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