To my knowledge
this is at least the third issue of many of these recordings.
First issued on CD shortly after being recorded, they were
reissued in SACD format in 2004 when John Phillips favourably
reviewed the disc (see review).
Here they revert to their original non-SACD CD format.
I have nothing
particularly against this disc, save the short playing time,
as there is indeed much to enjoy here. The mix of repertoire
is interesting and all of the performances are perfectly decent
in themselves. The liner notes, though brief, are serviceable.
has never struck me as a conductor of great profundities either
in concert or on record, he is at least musically sensitive
in his approach. All the performances here demonstrate that
fact eloquently and one senses that the St. Louis forces play
with conviction for him throughout this orchestral pot-pourri.
Indeed there are times when one becomes acutely aware that
they do more than this – in the Fauré particularly, where
a certain understatement is the watchword. At the start of
the disc in the Vaughan Williams one is immediately aware
of the tonal richness with which the strings are recorded.
That a slight atmospheric bloom is given to the sound by the
acoustic of the Powell Symphony Hall helps matters immensely.
Despite this at
other points in the programme something could possibly be
felt to be lacking. Slatkin’s Barber chooses not to plumb
the emotional depths that Bernstien’s does, nor does his Grainger
quite have the sheer elegance that John Eliot Gardiner brings
to his reading. However, as I suggested earlier these things
are small in themselves and the impact upon enjoying the disc
small overall. Anyone wanting to hear the textural qualities
of the orchestra and the idiomatic ear of the conductor at
their best should hear their readings of two Gymnopédies,
given in Debussy’s orchestrations. The first holds a dangerously
slow tempo well to create a canvas that hardly moves; the
third gives priority of some sensuousness to harp, winds and
discreet brass playing.
anyone wanting this mixed programme.