Monday, January 17, 2011

Awards 2010: Symphony

Mahler: Symphony no.2, 'Resurrection'
Yvonne Kenny; Jard van Nes; London Philharmonic Orchestra & Chorus/Klaus Tennstedt

A somewhat tricky category, this one, as sometimes there may be a distinction between "a symphony disc" and "a disc with a symphony on it". I give myself sleepless nights. The basic rule is that the album should have a symphony as its "featured item", even if half the album is dedicated to other music. And you may argue that a recording made in 1989 shouldn't be included in what is ostensibly a celebration of new albums. Ah well - this is the recording's first release and it's not old enough to be called "historic", is it? John Quinn on MusicWeb says "On CD the performance is thrilling but it must have been a once-in-a-lifetime experience for those in the hall. If you want a "safe" library choice for Mahler's Second Symphony you should look elsewhere, for this is highly personal". IRR's Ian Julier describes it as "Another Tennstedt miracle... he inspires a cosmic reading that takes the listener on a compelling journey of ever-increasing shock, awe and revelation". Julier too notes that "He will not be to everyone's tastes", though it must be said that the reviews were very much on the positive side. "In the last five minutes of this recording", Brian Buerkle opines in American Record Guide, "Tennstedt aims at transcendence and gets it".
Vasily Petrenko won the Symphony Award last year for a pair of Shostakovich works, and he shows up among the runners-up this year, along with the 2008 winner, Stéphane Denève, who brings us more Roussel. Two English symphonists - Kenneth Leighton and Stanley Bate - round out the list, a clean sweep for U.K. orchestras in fact.

Shostakovich: Symphony no.8. Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/Vasily Petrenko [Naxos]
Leighton: Symphony no.1; Piano concerto no.3. BBC National Orchestra of Wales/Martyn Brabbins [Chandos]
Bate: Symphony no.3 / Music by Arnell & Chisholm. Royal Scottish National Orchestra/Martin Yates [Dutton]
Roussel: Symphony no.1, etc. Royal Scottish National Orchestra/Stéphane Denève [Naxos]

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