Antonín Dvorák's Stabat Mater, Op. 58, written in the aftermath of the deaths of three of his children, is a sober and powerful work, inexplicably neglected and unlike any other work of choral music from the 19th century. Perhaps most performances don't capture its full weight, but this live recording from the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra under Mariss Jansons, does so. There are many deep pleasures here. The orchestra's choir is extraordinary: rich yet without a hint of wobble and utterly clear in its sense of the text. Jansons keeps things at a deliberate pace that lets the music breathe and the currents of personal experience rise to the surface. The soloists, none terribly well known, are fine in their individual numbers, but absolutely transcendent in ensembles, nowhere more so that in the sublime "Quando corpus morietur" finale (track 10); there are a couple of other strong recordings of this work, but it seems likely that no one has ever matched this conclusion. The live recording from the Herkulessaal in Munich is impressively transparent and faithful to the spontaneity of the event. A superb Dvorák release.
Though written barely 20 years apart, Dvorák's Cello Concerto and Tchaikovsky Rococo Variations draw their inspiration from two entirely different epochs. Dvorák's lush, Romantic concerto has hints of Czech motherland and even adaptations of his own previous works. The accompaniment is densely scored with tutti sections that could easily be right out of one of his symphonies.
Mariss Jansons’s international reputation as a Mahler conductor is indisputable. During his tenure as chief conductor of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Jansons did not record a full cycle of Mahler symphonies. With this new 2016 recording that project is now nearing completion. Mahler himself led the Concertgebouw Orchestra in the Dutch premiere of the Seventh in October 1909. How must the audience in the Main Hall have reacted to this whimsical work with its night-time atmosphere and eerie sounds? Although this vast symphony, featuring a number of unconventional instruments like the mandolin and guitar, did not catch on right away, it would slowly but surely win the hearts of music lovers everywhere.
Described by Tchaikovsky as ‘lyric scenes’, Eugene Onegin receives a spectacular reinterpretation from the Norwegian director Stefan Herheim. His productions create controversy and excitement around Europe, and here he takes Pushkin’s story of illusion, disaffection and frustrated love, and places the protagonists – world-weary Onegin and naïve, passionate Tatyana – in a triple temporal perspective, referencing the theatrical present, the period of the work’s composition, and the pageant of Russia’s history. Mariss Jansons, renowned for his mastery of Tchaikovsky’s symphonies, conducts this performance from Amsterdam’s Muziektheater.