here's no question that Osmo Vänskä is a true Beethoven conductor. He captures the music's vitality, its eruptive character, and its dramatic syntax as well as anyone on the podium today. He understands the importance of accents, of giving proper weight to Beethoven's bass lines, and of uncovering ear-catching detail without micro-managing the tempo and fracturing Beethoven's large musical paragraphs. The only quibble I have with this performance of the Eroica stems from Vänskä's otherwise admirable deployment of a very wide dynamic range. A couple of times he drops to a "super-duper" pianissimo so quiet that you can barely hear the music, causing it to momentarily lose tension. This only happens a couple of times, most notably at the point of the first-movement recapitulation, and it's so unnecessary given the general excellence of the interpretation that you wonder why he bothers.
The Finnish conductor Osmo Vänskä, music director since 2003 of the Minnesota Orchestra, long ago proved himself a formidable interpreter of Nordic music in general and Sibelius in particular. This symphonic cycle – two highly praised discs are already out – is now complete, with this album of the pliant, classical Symphony No 3, the little known and underrated No 6 and the mysterious, enthralling single-movement No 7. The playing is polished and detailed, now springy and buoyant, now occluded and chilling. Tempi are slightly broad but convincingly so. From the plunging energy of the opening of the Third Symphony to the bleak, raw ending of the Seventh, this is a gripping listen.
Stunning young Australian soprano Nicole Car is one of the brightest stars in international opera. In September 2018 she will make her debut at New York's Metropolitan Opera opposite Vittorio Grigolo and Michael Fabiano, and November sees her debut at Bayerische Staatsoper.
The shimmering string harmonics at the opening of Gustav Mahlers First Symphony bring to mind the suspended breath of spring, and will have signaled even to the very first audiences that a new symphonic era was being ushered in. Soon enough the composer introduces some of the elements that would become key components of his musical language: sounds of nature (here cuckoo calls) are combined with quasi-militaristic fanfares and high-art chromatic wanderings in cellos, as if to illustrate Mahlers view of the symphony as an all-embracing art form. The symphony, which the composer originally gave the subtitle Titan, borrows extensively from the song cycle Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen.
Fearsomely talented Swedish clarinetist Martin Fröst continues his conquest of the major concerto repertoire for his instrument with this recording of Carl Nielsen's 1928 Clarinet Concerto, paired with a new concerto by Finland's Kalevi Aho. The Nielsen concerto is a dense work in which the clarinet and the orchestra spend a lot of time going their separate ways, with the path of the clarinet being very twisted indeed.
With the exception of a few works by Ottorino Respighi, and for reasons which are relatively obscure, the orchestral concert music of the generation of Italian composers to which Ildebrando Pizzetti belongs has—so far as international acceptance is concerned—remained little-known outside Italy.