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.
The second installment in Sakari Oramo's superb hybrid SACD cycle of the symphonies of Carl Nielsen on BIS presents the Symphony No. 1 in G minor and the Symphony No. 3, "Sinfonia espansiva," two ruggedly independent works that reflect the composer's late Romantic style yet point to the modernism to come. While the Symphony No. 1 was influenced by Brahms and offers a rich harmonic language, propulsive rhythms, and a fairly homogenous orchestral palette, the Symphony No. 3 is striking for its reliance on unfolding counterpoint and long-breathed lines, and most notable for the use of wordless parts for soprano and baritone voices in the pastoral slow movement. These performances by Oramo and the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra are exceptional for their stunning power and spacious feeling, though the crisp details and focused sound quality will be the biggest draw for audiophiles.
This 1985 Seventh, the first release in Riccardo Chailly's 15 year-old Bruckner symphony cycle, is a wonderful performance, thankfully available again. Chailly takes a majestic view of the work… Decca's remastering for this release adds just a bit more clarity and presence to what was already a dynamic and full-sounding recording. A great Bruckner seventh. –Victor Carr; classicstoday.com
George Szell's Dvorák performances feature his customary blend of razor sharp orchestral discipline allied to a wholly idiomatic, singing line. Even more interesting, he takes numerous liberties with Dvorák's orchestration in the Seventh Symphony, reinforcing the violins and woodwinds with horns at several points in the outer movements.
Ukrainian pianist Oleg Poliansky joins Volker Hartung and the Cologne New Philharmonic Orchestra in performing cherished orchestral works by Dvorak, including the dramatic Piano Concerto in G Minor, Op. 33, B. 63, in addition to the exuberant Slavonic Dances.