This appears to be
Järvi’s sixth CD for Telarc since
he took over from Jesus Lopez-Cobos
a few years ago, and he seems to have
developed a higher profile, certainly
in the U.K., than his predecessor. The
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra always
has been a highly capable ensemble,
although never in the "Big Five"
league. Nowadays, with the general uplift
in playing standards, there is very
little difference and Telarc has concentrated
their recording activities on two such
ensembles, in Cincinnati and Atlanta,
with others making up the total. The
advantage of this is that the engineers
can optimise results within the halls
without having to find the best microphone
positioning each time a new venue is
chosen. Make no mistake, these two performances
are absolutely superb as far as technical
quality is concerned.
Two outstanding 20th
Century masterpieces have been chosen
for this release, although I find the
coupling a little strange as the orchestral
language of the two composers is quite
In The Rite of Spring
(first on the disc) the performance
of the ballet sounds rather tame. This
is more to do with the expertise of
the orchestra than anything else; there
is no struggle with the score. I suppose
that this is more a modern phenomenon
as youth orchestras can nowadays turn
in very creditable performances of this
masterpiece. Järvi certainly has
mastered the score, and turns in a very
well prepared performance.
However, because of
the preparation or perhaps, over-preparation
of the score, The Rite takes
on a too comfortable atmosphere and
it does not thrill as I know it can.
This is a great shame as the issue deserves
to do well, given all of the technical
expertise lavished upon it from engineers
and musicians alike.
The market is just
too competitive for this disc to be
first choice although I know many music
lovers who would be delighted to own
it, were it not for the other eighty
or so versions listed in the RED catalogue.
It really has to be something special
to compete effectively with all of these,
and I am afraid that it does not.
I suppose this is the
dilemma of the record companies, and
to be fair, Telarc’s somewhat novel
coupling may result in a few more sales.
The Nielsen No. 5 is
one of the most disturbing scores in
the repertoire, given that its raison
d’être is the struggle between
side drummer and whole orchestra which
forms the basis of the first movement.
Here, the competition is less severe,
there being only thirty odd other performances
Again, playing and
engineering cannot be faulted. Indeed,
the balance between side drum and orchestra
is nigh on perfect, and much the same
can be said for the rest of the disc.
The same fault as with The Rite of
Spring is also clearly evident,
and this is a shame. Paavo Järvi
is also competing with his father, Neeme,
whose performance with the Gothenburg
Symphony Orchestra for DG has more of
the gut-wrenching excitement than the
current disc raises.
All the same this disc
can be recommended for the standards
of playing and engineering.