A treat for Martinon
fans, these recordings all display great
élan. There is a difference in
the performance standards of the LSO
and the Israel Philharmonic, though.
This should be taken into account when
considering this disc for purchase.
Dvořák is simply tremendous, radiating
life from each and every semiquaver.
The very opening is feisty, but a certain
top-heaviness in the recording asserts
itself. There is a certain lack of depth
- reflected in the fact that the cellos
can sound a little scratchy.
Despite this the lightness of much of
this music suits this approach. Importantly,
the LSO displays huge affection for
these famous pieces; try the contrasting
sections of No. 2, the E minor. No.
3 (A flat) has a nice 'wafting in the
breeze' feel to it, and the trumpets
manage to avoid sounding 'hammy' - they
often do here. Similarly Martinon avoids
over-emphasis of the composer's marked
accents - both hair-pinned and agogic
- in the calm No. 4 (F major).. The
sprightly No. 5 certainly hops along
in its later stages! Similarly, the
'encore' from the Op. 72 set is remarkably
on its toes.
A move to Tel Aviv
for the remainder of the programme.
The Massenet begins as up-front as they
come - the recording seems closer -
an explosion of energy entirely in keeping
with the spirit of this marvellous music.
Martinon ensures the second movement
('Andalouse') has a Spanish feel to
it without degenerating into the sleazy.
The light, sparkly woodwind of No. 4
('Aubade') are a delight. They impress
again in No. 6, 'Madrilène',
with its lovely, crisp rhythms.
Along with Gaîeté
parisienne and La Boutique fantasque
(among others), Les Patineurs
is a pot-pourri of music by Meyerbeer
created by the indefatigable Constant
Lambert. The recording again is grainy,
but there is character by the bucket-load
here; try the stompings of the 'Entrée'
or the riotous Waltz of the 'Pas de
trois'. The antics of the sixth movement,
'Duet', are counterbalanced by its darker
In short, masses of
fun all round. If the Israel Philharmonic
yields to the LSO in sheer international
heft, it gives just as much of itself
in spirit. A life-enhancing disc.