Magazine article Gramophone

Fantastique Barbirolli: Two Accounts by 'Glorious John' of the Symphonie Fantastique Alongside Rediscoveries by Rankl and Hannikainen

Magazine article Gramophone

Fantastique Barbirolli: Two Accounts by 'Glorious John' of the Symphonie Fantastique Alongside Rediscoveries by Rankl and Hannikainen

Article excerpt

Two warmly phrased though vividly characterised accounts of Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique under Sir John Barbirolli make for interesting comparisons. As Lyndon Jenkins suggests in his excellent note for the ICA CD of a 1969 SWF SO broadcast recording, little had changed since Barbirolli recorded the work with the Halle Orchestra for Pye 10 years earlier, save that the intervening period had brought with it a considerable broadening of tempo. Even the surges at the start of the first movement's development section are similar, and the odd portamento among the strings too, though winds are more prominently balanced on the earlier recording. ICA adds a pleasing if rather portly account of Haydn's Symphony No 83, The Hen, whereas the Barbirolli Society's reissue of the Halle recording comes as part of a welcome set that also includes excerpts from The Damnation of Faust (plus a rehearsal sequence), Debussy's La mer and some key Ravel (Daphnis et Chloe Suite No 2, La valse and the Ma Mere I'Oye Suite).

On the Elgar front, the Barbirolli Society has reissued what is surely the most thrilling of Sir John's various versions of the Enigma Variations, the one from 1956 (in stereo--last available on an EMI 'Great Conductors of the 20th Century' set). It is coupled with the Second Symphony from 1954 (swifter and tighter than the lovingly executed stereo remake), two versions of Cockaigne (the 1949 version being especially affectionate) and, from roughly the same period, a swift, potendy emotive Serenade, a gutsy Introduction and Allegro, and Dream Children. To close, there's the most wonderful account of 'Land of Hope and Glory' imaginable with Kathleen Ferrier, recorded at the ceremonial opening of Manchester's Free Trade Hall on November 16, 1951, broadly paced, beautifully enunciated and as filled with sincere feeling as you could ever hope to hear. Definitely one of the Barbirolli Society's major releases.

Although less demonstrably heart-on-sleeve than Barbirolli, composer-conductor Karl Rankl was a notable musician whose respect for the written text facilitated a refined brand of musicianship. A well-engineered live 1954 recording of Mahler's Fourth Symphony (on Guild) with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra illustrates how in Mahler honesty is nearly always the best policy, especially in the slow movement, where the principal climax is all the more effective for being skilfully judged tempo-wise. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.