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Symphonic Music - Released February 7, 2020 | Decca

Distinctions 5 de Diapason
An original Philips album of two light-orchestral masterpieces by Dvořák, with the Serenade for Strings receiving a first international reissue on CD. While best known as a conductor of the central symphonic repertoire, and the operas of Berlioz and Tippett, Colin Davis always showed special affection for the music of Dvořák. He made this album in March 1968, conducting the orchestra with whom he enjoyed the longest and most fruitful relationship of his career, the London Symphony Orchestra. After some troubled times in the early 1960s, when Davis suffered a breakdown and the orchestra passed him over in favour of Istvan Kertesz as music director, they hit a sweet spot together in this album and several others such as the early volumes of their Berlioz and Tippett series together. The Symphonic Variations remains a comparatively neglected work – astonishingly so, given its tremendous charm. When Hans Richter first conducted the work in Vienna, he declared that he could never remember a new piece achieving such a popular success. Brahms thought equally highly of it, and perhaps valued the quality of wit which is rarely found in Dvořák’s music. Davis certainly did so, and conducted the Variations throughout his career, including late in life with the LSO, but this first recording enjoys a particularly unfettered freedom of expression. Affection also beams from every bar of the Serenade for Strings which Dvořák composed in 1876, the year before the Variations. This was a happy time for the composer, who was so often beset by suffering and personal tragedy, and it breathes the same joyous air as his Fifth Symphony and Second String Quintet, full of Czech and Viennese dance rhythms, which are handled by the LSO’s string section with rather more lightness of touch than on Davis’s later Philips recording with the BRSO. (© Decca Music Group Limited / Universal Music Australia Pty Ltd.)

Classical - Released January 1, 2013 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Distinctions 5 de Diapason
For more than three decades, Colin Davis laid the groundwork for his legacy by recording his core repertoire for Philips, and these performances are still highly regarded by critics and fans alike. This 2013 box set from Decca brings together some of his most essential interpretations of works by Bartók, Beethoven, Berlioz, Dvorák, Elgar, Haydn, Hindemith, Holst, Mahler, Mozart, Mussorgsky, Reger, Sibelius, Stravinsky, and Tippett, and all are representative of Davis in his prime. The music is always intellectually focused and formally coherent, and Davis' consistent pursuit of clarity and balance made many of these performances definitive; indeed, Davis' readings of Berlioz, Mozart, and Sibelius are deemed essential by connoisseurs. In his long career, Davis recorded with many orchestras, among which were the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Concertgebouw Orchestra, the London Symphony Orchestra, and the Berlin Philharmonic, among many others, and his performances with such esteemed artists as Claudio Arrau, Stephen Kovacevich, Jessye Norman, and Kiri Te Kanawa are high points in his catalog. This sturdy box set contains 15 CDs, offering a mix of analog and digital recordings that still sound superb decades after they were recorded, thanks to the diligence and care of Philips' engineers. Serious collectors will already own most of these recordings, but this is a terrific introductory set for newcomers because it presents some of Davis' finest work in one convenient package. © TiVo

Classical - Released February 12, 2008 | LSO Live

Hi-Res Booklet

Classical - Released March 10, 2006 | RCA Red Seal


Classical - Released January 1, 1970 | Decca Music Group Ltd.


Classical - Released January 1, 1988 | Decca Music Group Ltd.


Classical - Released August 1, 1993 | Decca Music Group Ltd.


Classical - Released January 1, 1977 | Decca Music Group Ltd.


Classical - Released December 3, 1985 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Among Colin Davis' great Berlioz albums, his 1969 recording in Westminster Cathedral of the Requiem, Op. 5, with the London Symphony and Chorus, must be considered one of the most powerful in its physical impact, compelling in its wide range of expressions, and moving in its spiritual austerity; in short, as satisfying a version as Berlioz ever could have wished for this imposing masterpiece. Of course, the spectacular high points of this Grand Messe des Morts are sure to draw the most attention, and few listeners will be disappointed by the cataclysmic sonorities in the Tuba Mirum (performed with four brass ensembles and eight sets of timpani, augmenting the expanded orchestra and choir) and in the only slightly less apocalyptic Rex Tremendae and Lacrymosa. But it's in the quiet, penitential moments where the Requiem is most spellbinding and affecting, and Davis draws subtle and highly expressive lines of counterpoint in the choral parts, in many places a cappella or with the barest of orchestral accompaniments. This 2007 reissue in The Originals series is rounded out with another Berlioz performance from 1969, the rousing performance at Wembley Town Hall of the Symphonie funèbre et triomphale, Op. 15. In its somber mood, Classical textures, and martial pacing, this grandiose work is atypical of the emotionally volatile and flamboyant Berlioz; this commemorative symphony most closely resembles French band music in its thick scoring for brass, woodwinds, percussion, and chorus. While it is perfectly acceptable filler for this double-disc reissue, the Symphonie may seem relentlessly bombastic to some listeners and quite vulgar in comparison with the profound feeling of the Requiem; as a consequence, it should be heard separately to be properly appreciated. © TiVo

Classical - Released May 10, 2019 | Universal Music Australia Pty. Ltd.


Classical - Released March 1, 2013 | RCA Red Seal


Classical - Released March 1, 2011 | Opus Arte


Classical - Released January 1, 1980 | Decca Music Group Ltd.


Classical - Released January 1, 1986 | Decca Music Group Ltd.


Classical - Released November 29, 2019 | Musical Concepts

Hi-Res Booklet

Classical - Released March 27, 2009 | RCA Red Seal


Symphonic Music - Released October 26, 2010 | BR-Klassik

Colin Davis, a self-proclaimed unpretentious conductor, took the helm of Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundunks in 1983, succeeding Rafael Kubelik and the tragically deceased Kirill Kondrashin. This BR Klassik album features a recording of Elgar's Enigma Variations made in the same year Davis took over the orchestra, demonstrating from the get-go the conductor's broadening of the orchestra's repertoire to include English composers and others. Even though Davis had only just begun working with the orchestra, his insistence on precision and the eventual transformation that it brought to the orchestra can already be heard. Davis draws out a remarkable warmth from the strings and a simple clarity from the winds. He allows the music to speak for itself rather than imposing unnecessary emotional emphasis. The result is a thoroughly moving, passionate reading of Enigma. Jump ahead four years to 1987 and Davis' work with the orchestra is truly apparent in their recording of the Vaughan Williams Symphony No. 6. The sometimes aggressive symphony is executed with the utmost precision, brilliant dynamic contrasts, and unfettered control of tempo. As either an introduction to these two great English works or to Davis' early work with Rundfunks, this album is an exceptional choice. © TiVo

Classical - Released September 3, 2012 | Warner Classics


Classical - Released August 15, 1995 | RCA Red Seal