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Symphonies - Released July 6, 2018 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Gramophone Editor's Choice - Choc de Classica - Grammy Awards
Clocking in at over an hour for the Fourth, and almost an hour for the Eleventh or "1905", these are the two longest and fullest of Shostakovich's symphonies. What's remarkable is that the Fourth, finished in 1936, was only performed in 1961 – eleven years after the performance of the Eleventh in 1957! It was in 1936 that the poor composer felt a bullet whistle by him, following an infamous article in Pravda, dictated by Stalin: "Chaos in Place of Music", which torpedoed the opera Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk: the work was carefully locked away, only to be brought back out once the dictator was dead, buried and comprehensively decomposed. You can see where the composer was coming from! The tone of this Fourth hasn't the slightest hint of optimism, We hear dark Mahlerian accents, desperate flights and tortured harmonies: not exactly the music of a bright tomorrow. The Eleventh, structured according to a "political" programme, celebrating the revolutionaries of 1905 and the tragic events of Bloody Sunday – when the Russian army fired on a crowd, killing 96 according to official sources and several thousand according to others – with a much more optimistic tone, although we know what optimism means in the world of Shostakovich. The two symphonies were recorded at public concerts, in autumn 2017 and spring 2018 respectively by the Boston Symphony Orchestra and their conductor Andris Nelsons. © SM/Qobuz
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Symphonies - Released May 27, 2016 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Gramophone Editor's Choice
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Symphonic Music - Released February 22, 2019 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Le Choix de France Musique
You don't have to speculate as to whether Latvian conductor Andris Nelsons' interpretations of Shostakovich have been shaped by his having grown up in the Soviet Union; he has said himself that they are. And you can get a start on understanding how with this excellent release, part of a complete Shostakovich cycle by Nelsons and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. If you're not going for the whole cycle immediately, you might well pick this album to start. It contains one offbeat symphony and one of the big epoch-makers, together with some lesser-known orchestral works, and each piece comes alive. The title "Under Stalin's Shadow" applies to Nelsons' entire series, and it's more applicable to some works than to others. It might work for the Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Op. 54, a light, quirky, rather sardonic work from 1939. It was written after Shostakovich had been condemned by Joseph Stalin in 1936 and had rehabilitated himself with the Symphony No. 5 in D minor, Op. 47. The Symphony No. 6, the composer said, was intended to convey moods of "spring, joy, youth," but it is anything but neoclassic with its odd shape and its mood of jibe, beautifully brought out by Nelsons and the BSO. In the Symphony No. 7 in C major, Op. 60 ("Leningrad"), Shostakovich was not under Stalin's shadow but, for once, on his side: the symphony is the 20th century's great response to war, with its ominous first-movement march of advancing Germans. Sample this to hear how the great sweep of Shostakovich's more epic works ought to be done. The slow movement of this work is profound, and existential in this performance. There are plenty of chances for the BSO to show off their high level of playing under Nelsons in the Festive Overture, Op. 96, a fine barn burner of a work. If you hadn't seen the title or heard the work before, you'd be hard pressed to identify the subject matter of the often jaunty King Lear suite, Op. 58a, but it somehow adds balance to the program. The recordings, from Boston's Symphony Hall, are designated as live, but no live audience is present; the use of the hall's distinctive acoustic is beautifully in sync with the program. A major Shostakovich release. © TiVo
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Symphonic Music - Released May 5, 2017 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
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Classical - Released April 30, 2013 | BR-Klassik

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - La Clef RESMUSICA
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Classical - Released January 10, 2020 | Sony Classical

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
It has been a long time, and probably stretching all the way back to the now-distant, legendary concerts led by Carlos Kleiber in 1989 and 1992, since we have enjoyed a New Year's Concert of such quality. With the Latvian Andris Nelsons (known and liked by the Philharmoniker) conducting, this first concert of 2020 had a fluent elegance, a rhythmical verve which was both light and implacable, and a kind of song that allowed the Viennese strings to show off their incredibly silky texture and profound depth. Andris Nelsons is clearly very much at ease with this repertoire, and brings a very refined approach to this novel programme. Hits sit alongside lesser-known pieces, including Beethoven's Contredanses kicking off the German’s anniversary year with a bang. Nelson gleefully swaps his baton for a trumpet, his favourite instrument, and gets stuck into the Postillon Galop by the "Danish Johann Strauss", Hans Christian Lumbye. This original programme brings us Knall und Fall, a rapid polka from Eduard Strauss, Cupido, a delightful French (slow) polka by Josef Strauss and Joseph Hellmesberger's Gavotte and some other tasty Viennese treats making it into the New Year's Concert for the first time. The ebullient audience was also very keen to hear some more conventional favourites: and no-one was disappointed by the stunning rendition of the famous Tritsch-Tratsch-Polka, played at a diabolical pace, with phenomenal virtuosity from these Viennese musicians, who remain the unchallenged masters of this repertoire. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Symphonies - Released July 31, 2015 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Award
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Symphonic Music - Released November 2, 2015 | Orfeo

Distinctions 4 étoiles Classica
Tchaikovsky's Manfred Symphony, a programmatic work based on Lord Byron's Manfred via the Russian critic Vladimir Stasov, has been performed less often even than the three earlier Tchaikovsky symphonies, to say nothing of the mighty final three (although most of the major Russian conductors have recorded it at some point during their careers). It was composed in 1885, at the height of the composer's career. Tchaikovsky was ambivalent about the work, at first proclaiming it one of his best, but later threatening to destroy it. The symphony shows the influence of Berlioz's program works (including an "idée fixe"), and is not boring in the least. The reasons for its neglect include its length, its orchestral complexity (it calls for two harps, not something all orchestras can provide, as well as a harmonium or organ and gigantic brass and wind sections), and a certain lack of cohesion. Russian conductors may bull through the work and thus avoid the latter issue, but Latvian conductor Andris Nelsons, leading the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in a live recording, tries for a more measured approach. Listeners may wish for more blood and guts as the finale proceeds, but there are many attractions: the Birmingham players punch above their weight in a perilously difficult score (apparently, it's true, having four spliced-together chances), and Nelsons gives the work a level of detail and balance that's especially impressive in a live performance. The Marche Slave, Op. 31, serves as a curtain raiser, and Nelsons' energetic reading works very well: annotator Tobias Hell points out its thematic similarities (the Marche Slave was about the Serbian struggle against the Turks, Manfred about the Greek independence war). If this is not the last word on the Manfred Symphony, it is one that will be welcomed into many collections. © TiVo
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Classical - Released December 6, 2019 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

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The musical humorist Peter Schickele used to conceive of the relationship between conductor and orchestra as a sports contest, delivering a play-by-play account of the first movement of Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67, in the style of a radio announcer. Conductors leading the venerable Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra must feel that way at times: the orchestra does certain things, like honing a gorgeous string sheen, very well indeed, but it can be hard to push the group beyond certain lines. This recording of the Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125, provides examples, as do other recordings in the complete Nelsons/Vienna cycle from which this release is a single-album excerpt. The first movement is taken slowly and, at times, lacks forward motion, but the colors in the open-fifth material at the beginning are impressive and subtle. Nelsons' dynamic range is low for the most part, extremely so in the first appearance of the famed "Ode to Joy" melody in the cellos and double basses, but it rises to normal and then above, first intermittently and then in quite an exciting choral-vocal finale, with strong soloists who are aware of what Nelsons is doing and give him plenty of space. Where string sheen and strong percussion are called for, in the third and second movements, respectively, the orchestra, of course, sounds great, and Nelsons brings the feeling of an unfolding sequence of events in many passages. The performance certainly has moments where it flags, but it also rewards repeated hearings, and it may be that individual listeners' reactions will vary widely. © TiVo
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Classical - Released May 3, 2019 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

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Classical - Released January 17, 2020 | Sony Classical

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Classical - Released February 16, 2018 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Hi-Res Booklet
Recordings of Anton Bruckner's symphonies have increasingly acquired an air of mystery and difficulty due to their extraordinary length, harmonic complexity, and the vagaries surrounding the multiple versions and various published editions, which conductors champion for different reasons. Yet Andris Nelsons seems to have taken the path of least resistance with his live recording of the Symphony No. 4 in E flat major, "Romantic," which he presents with the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig in a proudly conventional reading. Not only is the 1878/1880 version one of the most widely accepted and most frequently performed and recorded, Nelsons also serves up a rather traditional interpretation that harks back to mid-20th century standards. To be sure, Nelsons is committed, consistent, and coherent, and his choices of tempos and dynamics are convincing, though he shows no interest in observing period practices or re-creating the techniques and sonorities of Bruckner's day. Instead, Nelsons delivers a "Romantic" that more closely resembles models set by Klemperer, Jochum, Wand, Tennstedt, and other traditional Brucknerians. The inclusion of Richard Wagner's Prelude to Act I from Lohengrin provides a reminder of Bruckner's unwanted role in the "War of the Romantics," though Nelsons appears to have made this pairing of composers a continuing feature of his Bruckner recordings. This album, and Nelsons' 2017 release of the Symphony No. 3 in D minor with the Overture to Tannhäuser, are part of a projected series for Deutsche Grammophon that promises to be one of the most popular of mainstream Bruckner cycles. © TiVo
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Symphonic Music - Released April 6, 2018 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Hi-Res Booklet
Andris Nelsons continues his complete collection of Bruckner's symphonies with the Leipzig Gewandhaus, where he is now the musical director. At the head of this fabulous orchestra with its golden sounds, the Latvian conductor throws himself into the era of such legendary recordings of Bruckner as those by Jochum, Böhm, Haitink and Wand. Orchestral perfection, plasticity of sonic masses, coherence across all the music stands, and incredible reserves of power make this new recording a real event. Andris Nelsons gave a perfect summary of Bruckner's music when he said that it "elevates the soul". Under his baton, the music of the great Austrian becomes a real spiritual experience, going beyond Catholic mysticism to reach a metaphysical plane, an opening onto a new level that opens up infinite vistas. The tempo is ample, the music wreathed in mystery, the nuances subtle, the structure carefully thought-out. The whole musical canvas is alive and swells with a style of singing which is at once intense, luminous, supple and beautiful: it intoxicates the audience, but without ever being overbearing. Bruckner's worship of his god Wagner is well-known, but it takes on a whole new dimension with the addition of a dose of Wagner to round off each symphony. Here, Siegfried's Funeral March taken from the Götterdämmerung makes a lot of sense when we realise that Bruckner had written the marvellous Adagio of his 7th as an homage to Wagner, who died while the symphony was being composed. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Symphonies - Released July 6, 2018 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Booklet
Continuing his series of the symphonies of Dmitry Shostakovich with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Andris Nelsons presents the Symphony No. 4 in C minor and the Symphony No. 11 in G minor, "The Year 1905" on this 2018 Deutsche Grammophon release. Of the two works, the Symphony No. 4 has enjoyed tremendous post-millennial popularity in the west, with competitive releases by Neeme Järvi, Vasily Petrenko, Mariss Jansons, Valery Gergiev, and Mikhail Pletnev; its accessibility may be due in part to the symphony's strong associations with Gustav Mahler, whose influence is evident and provides listeners a handle on this bracing work. At the same time, the Symphony No. 11 has fared less well, perhaps because its programmatic commemoration of the first Russian revolution is too remote for modern audiences to appreciate, but its reception is complicated by other factors, such as Shostakovich's veiled critiques of the Stalin years. Musically, the Fourth is abstract, assertive, and virtuosic, with the innovative spirit of early Shostakovich, before the denunciation of 1936, while the more reflective Eleventh is almost cinematic in its scene painting. The live performances by the BSO are first-rate, with expressive depth and sonorous playing, particularly in the incisive brass, and the sound of the recording is exceptional to match, with a vividness, spaciousness, and clarity comparable to SACD quality. © TiVo
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Symphonic Music - Released November 2, 2015 | Orfeo

A certain amount of acoustic reverberation is welcome in orchestral recordings, if it has been controlled for a particular effect, but it is omnipresent in Andris Nelsons' 2009 recordings of Igor Stravinsky's The Firebird and the Symphony of Psalms. From the very beginning of the complete music for The Firebird, resonance dominates and creates an aural haze that is so thick that details only emerge as if from a dense fog, and the timbres of certain instruments are blurred into an echoic cloud that seems almost artificially engineered. Other recordings made in Birmingham Symphony Hall by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra certainly have a vibrant acoustic quality, but it is so strong here, it must be a product of microphone placement, mixing, or both. Be that as it may, The Firebird survives this soft-focus reproduction much better than Symphony of Psalms, because its impressionistic colors and intensely lush, chromatic harmonies are already somewhat dream-like and mysterious, whereas the dry sonorities and punchy rhythms of the symphony need a much crisper presentation than they get here. The blurred textures and harmonies that are tolerable in The Firebird become a distraction in the Symphony of Psalms, and the work's dissonant counterpoint and lean, staccato chords bleed into each other in an unsatisfactory way, despite the impressive wall of sound that's created in fortissimo sections and the glorious sound that Nelsons and the orchestra produce on cadences. © TiVo
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Symphonic Poems - Released November 2, 2015 | Orfeo

The three symphonic poems on this 2014 Orfeo release are among the most popular of Richard Strauss' orchestral works, and the live renditions by Andris Nelsons and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra give them considerable energy and color. The recordings of Also sprach Zarathustra, Don Juan, and Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche are drawn from several performances given in Birmingham Symphony Hall between 2011 and 2013, and as such they represent best parts of those concerts, though careful editing and mixing have made them seamless. The close microphone placement provides clear details, and many passages have the heightened presence of chamber music, so virtually every note can be heard clearly. Note the vibrant sound of the lowest instruments, particularly the contrabassoon, bass clarinet, tuba, and double basses, which add depth and occasionally a truly menacing quality to the music, notably in the darker sections of Also sprach Zarathustra. Nelsons' interpretations are spontaneous, fluid, and a little free in tempo, so it takes some getting accustomed to his use of rubato and rather rhapsodic treatment of the material. But this by no means diminishes the excitement and flamboyance of the playing, which shows the orchestra at its liveliest and most spectacular. © TiVo
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Symphonies - Released January 1, 2016 | Orfeo

One might expect that no one could be better qualified to write a piece about the Alps than Richard Strauss. His home in the Bavarian Alps was greatly beloved by him and perhaps served as grand inspiration for the composer. However, Eine Alpensinfonie does not seem to be representative of the composer's most inspired, grand work; rather, it comes across as an odd pastiche of musical moments that just do not seem to adhere as a cohesive composition. This is absolutely no reflection on the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Andris Nelsons, who do an excellent job of bringing out the dynamics and contrasts and lushness in this piece as much as possible. The beginning is barely audible on this recording, but shortly after, the orchestra expands into a broader sound and has more color. Strauss uses horns, bells, and flutes to create an Alpine, ethereal touch as a hiker ascends the mountain, surrounded by cows and meadows and woods. But again, the music does not go anywhere, nor does it use enough of Strauss' famous palette and unusual harmonies to move the listener. It is not until the hiker reaches the summit that the listener is treated to Strauss' true orchestral glory with echoes of Wagner and Also sprach Zarathustra: it could easily be the soundtrack to a Leni Riefenstahl film. Also exciting is the storm, which the orchestra captures magnificently. Nelsons leads the orchestra into a dark, somber ending that is almost menacing in its simplicity. Yet despite his best efforts, Eine Alpensinfonie is not structured enough to be a symphony (it was intended originally intended to be the first movement of a full symphony), nor does it feature enough leitmotifs or clearly programmatic themes to make it a tone poem."The Dance of the Seven Veils" from Salomé conveys the sensuality of this biblical figure's dance: the listener can see each veil floating in the air, her twists and turns that tempt as she moves. The tinkling percussion, trilling oboe, and swelling harp soar above the passionate orchestra that is full of crescendos and climaxes that create high drama in the music. Nelsons and City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra are a joy to listen to and make the best of the compositions they perform. © TiVo
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Symphonic Music - Released November 2, 2015 | Orfeo

This 2009 recording of Strauss' Ein Heldenleben and Rosenkavalier Suite with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra offers a clear image of conductor Andris Nelsons' style of interpretation. This was more difficult to see in his previous recording with the Birmingham musicians, a release featuring Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony and Hamlet overture, which raced from one extreme to the other, from very loud to very quiet, and from very fast to very slow, in a manner that seemed imposed on the music. Here, Nelsons' fluid but always controlled tempos fit more with the music's mercurial character, and in fact enhance it. In Ein Heldenleben, the hero seems bravely impetuous and his spouse sweetly seductive through Nelsons' adroit tempo modifications, and the Rosenkavalier Suite holds together because of Nelsons' use of tempo to articulate form. Anyone who enjoys Strauss' music is likely to be pleased with these performances. While the City of Birmingham Symphony does its best with these difficult scores, it still sounds like a provincial orchestra with somewhat scrawny strings and sometimes overly blatant brass. Orfeo's digital sound, though lush and warm, is not nearly as clear and detailed as it might be. © TiVo
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Symphonies - Released November 2, 2015 | Orfeo

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Symphonies - Released November 2, 2015 | Orfeo

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Andris Nelsons in the magazine