The VPO is the heart's home for the music of Beethoven,
Mozart, Schubert, Bruckner and Franz Schmidt. How many would have predicted
that Decca would select that orchestra for their premium Sibelius and
moving Anthony Collins' mono seven to Ace of Clubs and then to Eclipse?
However it worked and in Maazel they also chose well.
The Tchaikovskian First Symphony in Maazel's
hands is over-brimmingly passionate, gruff and at times quite furiously
paced though starting off rather low key - almost casual. Decca spotlighting
comes into play to good effect - listen to the harp towards the end
of the allegro energico. The rapidity of the scherzo puts the
VPO through their paces and they more than pass anyone's muster without
smudging; quite something at this clip. Maazel slashes into the Finale;
clearly meaning business.
The Fourth Symphony is the antithesis of the
romantic indulgence of the First. It was written under the shadow of
Sibelius's encounter with throat cancer and a decade after the symphony's
partner on this disc. The two works stand poles apart - one written
within the heritage of high nationalistic romance; the other forbidding,
mustering only an icy lyricism.
The three discs onto which the seven (shorn of the
Tapiola which would have made this a rather profligate four disc
sequence) were transferred are part of the Eloquence Primavera series.
This is a subset of the Eloquence catalogue and is marked out by the
covers which use details from Melinda Harper's untitled abstract oils.
All three show what can perhaps be described as a hailstorm of sticks