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Sevitzky vol5 PASC650

Fabien Sevitzky (conductor)
Indianapolis Symphony, Volume 5
Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809)
L'isola disabitata, Hob. XXVIII:9: Overture (1779) [7:55]
Symphony No. 73 in D major, Hob.I:73 ‘La Chasse’ (1781) [18:29]
Edvard GRIEG (1843-1907)
Sigurd Jorsalfar, Op.22 (1872) [8:11]
Peer Gynt, Suite No.2, Op.55 (1891-92) [16:30]
Symphonic Dances Op.64 (1898) [22:48]
Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra/Fabien Sevizky
rec. 1941-45, Murat Theatre, Indianapolis, Indiana

Due to good financial backing and recording quality American orchestras flourished at a time when European ones were squeezed by the demands of war work. And despite the Petrillo recording ban, between 1942 and 1944, orchestras still managed to be represented by a formidable array of recordings, now supplemented of course by broadcast material – think of Cincinnati under Goossens and Beecham’s seasons in Seattle, for example, all of which have been documented by Pristine Audio.

This series of recordings of the Indianapolis Symphony under conductor Fabien Sevitzky has restored a healthy slice of their recordings, with one more volume to go to make it complete. This Haydn-Grieg selection was recorded between 1941 and 1945. The overture to L'isola disabitata was quite adventurous repertoire for the time and Sevitzky was just the man to deal with its Sturm und Drang elements. Three years later he recorded Symphony No.73, a discographic first, though Hans von Benda had earlier recorded just its punchy finale. Sevitzky’s recording appeared later on an RCA Victor LP so must have been thought well enough of. Indeed it preserves a just balance between the earthy and the rustic elements of the music, which Haydn had originally intended, in the finale, to evoke the hunt, qualities that Sevitzky and his orchestra pursue so well.

When it comes to Grieg, he programmes two of the three movements from Sigurd Jorsalfar that Grieg marshalled into a concert suite, omitting the well-known Homage March. He performs the second suite from Peer Gynt – Eugene Goossens and the Cincinnati Symphony had recorded the first set. As Mark Obert-Thorn makes clear in his one-page notes, the Victor recording engineers did a splendid job here and this is the highpoint of the Sevitzky-Indianapolis collaboration in Grieg. The Symphonic Dances, recorded in the same sessions as gave us the Haydn, are a bit of a let-down. Put alongside Beecham, Sevitzky’s bluntness and bluffness become all too apparent. Certainly, there’s energy here but it’s of a decidedly unsubtle kind and Beecham’s ability to coax just that little extra time from his orchestra pays the richest of dividends in terms of warmth of phrasing.

Nevertheless, this is another attractive example of a ‘second tier’ American orchestra operating at generally high wattage.

Jonathan Woolf

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