Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

For the past five years or so I've posted reviews of classical music CDs, DVDs and Blu-rays, in various places on the web: Amazon.com, iTunes and other sites. I'll collect those earlier reviews, and add four or five new ones every month.

"Music, both vocall and instrumental, so good, so delectable, so rare, so admirable, so super excellent, that it did even ravish and stupifie all those strangers that never heard the like." - Thomas Coryat, after hearing 3 hours of music at the Scuola di San Rocco in Venice, 1608.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Nézet-Séguin's dramatic Dvorak from London


On his way to one of the great peaks of music, the Music Directorship of the Metropolitan Opera, which begins in the 2020-21 season, the Montreal-born conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin made a number of stops. Besides his three current main jobs, with the Orchestre Métropolitain in Montreal, the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Nézet-Séguin was Principal Guest Conductor of the Victoria Symphony beginning in 2003, here on Vancouver Island where I live. We're proud of that connection, and pleased to see his continued success. But probably more important in his continued upward rise was his tenure from 2007 to 2014 as Principal Guest Conductor with the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Nézet-Séguin's rapport with the LPO musicians is clear from this new two-disc set of live recordings on LPO's own label. It includes an outstanding performance from May 2009 of Dvorak's 7th Symphony. Nézet-Séguin lets loose the full range of orchestra, which is considerable, and makes the best possible case for considering this one of the greatest symphonies of the 19th century. The brass is especially impressive, along with a solid, silky string sound providing such a delightful variety of musical textures. You can hear in this music, perhaps, an echo of Nézet-Séguin's mentor, Carlo Maria Giulini. The 6th Symphony and the Othello Overture are both more recent recordings, made in September 2016 as part of Google Play's Classical Live project. Like Giulini, Nézet-Séguin's experience in the opera pit bears fruit in his orchestral recordings. Not every conductor can effectively release the drama that Dvorak builds in to his symphonic works, most especially in the 7th Symphony, but also in lesser but still impressive works like the 6th and the Overture. We're lucky to have such an accomplished conductor recording so often in both the operatic and orchestral realms. And kudos should go as well to the LPO for their openness to new marketing and technology partnerships to help promote such high quality music.

This disc will be released on March 3, 2017.

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