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Classical - Released January 1, 2007 | SWR Classic

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
By calling this series Mozart-- Essential Symphonies, Roger Norrington is clearly going to have to make choices about which is and which isn't an essential Mozart symphony. And by grouping the chosen works into carefully selected but always surprising programs, Norrington is likewise determined to make sure nothing can be taken for granted. Thus on this first of six volumes, Norrington has started with Symphony No. 1 in E flat major, ended with Symphony No. 41 in C major, and placed Symphony 25 in G minor in the middle, thereby giving three portraits of Mozart, one as a child, one as a youth, and one as a mature man. Leading the Radio-Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart des SWR, Norrington turns in light, bright, direct, and powerful interpretations of these familiar works. Though a modern instrument orchestra, the Stuttgart players perform with the alert and energetic ensemble of the best period instrument groups, but their modern instruments give them a wider palette and a greater strength. Norrington, a canny period instrument conductor, takes advantage of these qualities and produces performances that are flexible, expressive, and often quite grand. Recorded live at the 2006 Europäisches Musikfest Stuttgart, Hänssler's digital sound has a huge dynamic range and a wonderful amount of instrumental detail, though some occasional audience noise, too. © TiVo
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Symphonic Music - Released July 18, 2014 | audite Musikproduktion

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
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Classical - Released June 1, 2018 | Profil

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
Having completed his Brahms orchestral set with the WDR Sinfonieorchester on Profil, Jukka-Pekka Saraste turns to Beethoven for a complete cycle of the nine symphonies, recorded for broadcast on Cologne radio. On CD, the series begins with the two middle symphonies, the Symphony No. 4 in B flat major, Op. 60, and the Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67, suggesting an unconventional pattern for subsequent releases. Yet this unusual pairing opens up the possibility of exploring sharp contrasts between the symphonies, by pitting the gentle Romantic lyricism of the often overlooked Fourth against the dynamic energy of the Fifth, possibly the best known of all classical symphonies. Saraste has performed Beethoven's symphonies before, usually with chamber orchestras, so these performances with a large symphony orchestra show his disciplined approach and attention to details, while strong ensemble playing from the brass and woodwinds demonstrate the orchestra's modern resources. There is no attempt to re-create the orchestral scale or sonorities of Beethoven's time, though one might say these performances offer the clarity of a period performance with the robust sound of a modern reading, which may be the best of both worlds. This is a solid start for a Beethoven set and highly recommended. © TiVo
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Classical - Released March 5, 2013 | ICA Classics

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
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Classical - Released October 2, 2020 | PentaTone

Hi-Res Booklet
Maestro Marek Janowski and the WDR Symphony Orchestra present a new recording of Beethoven’s complete symphonies, the ultimate symphonic oeuvre in all thinkable respects. Bold as they still sound to modern ears, one easily imagines how Beethoven’s contemporaries were completely swept away by the scope, sheer force and adventurous nature of his symphonies. With this integral recording, Janowski and the orchestra finish a project that started with an acclaimed rendition of the 5th and 6th symphonies, released in 2019. The boxset design is inspired by the idea of organic form, an ideal that Beethoven’s contemporaries frequently associated with his symphonies, and which presupposes a resemblance between the structure of his symphonies and the growth of plants and trees. This idea has been visually translated by using close-up photographs from Karl Blossfeldt’s Art Forms in the Plant World (1928). These early twentieth-century images emphasize the timeless modernity of Beethoven’s symphonies, celebrating an extraordinary oeuvre that prospers until this very day. © Pentatone
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Classical - Released April 17, 2020 | Profil

Booklet
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Opera - Released January 1, 2000 | CPO

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Classical - Released January 1, 2009 | SWR Classic

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Classical - Released January 1, 2007 | SWR Classic

Like its predecessor, the second volume of Roger Norrington's series called Mozart -- Essential Symphonies contains three works: Symphonies No. 12 in G major, Symphony No. 29 in A major, and Symphony No. 39 in E flat major. Recorded live at the Europäisches Musikfest Stuttgart in 2006 with the Radio-Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart des SWR, these works make an attractive program: the childish enthusiasm of the G major growing into the youthful energy of the A major and finally into the mature mastery of the E flat major. Norrington leads the modern-instrument Stuttgart players in performances that are strong, clear, cogent, and colorful, eliciting playing of great poise and lucidity that matches the light-filled interpretations. Though longtime listeners will no doubt have heard numerous recordings of these works before, Norrington and the Stuttgart's recordings deserve to be heard by anyone who reveres Mozart's music. Though recorded live, Hänssler's sound is clean and deep, though with a fair amount of audience noise. © TiVo
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Classical - Released July 1, 2008 | SWR Classic

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Classical - Released November 18, 2003 | CPO

Prokofiev's 1927 ballet Le Pas d'Acier (The Step of Steel), given here in its rarely encountered complete form, is known for its motoric character and colorful scoring. Its sketchy story concerns the industrialization of the fledgling Soviet Union. Michail Jurowski's reading of the score is fairly straightforward and features excellent sound and fine playing by the WDR Sinfonie Orchester Köln. But occasionally the pacing is a bit deliberate and the phrasing bland, as in the opening number "Entrée des personages" and in the closing pair "Les Marteaux" (No. 10) and Finale (No. 11). The mechanistic qualities of the music -- so essential to any good performance of this work -- certainly come through with power in these numbers, and the epic and festive character of "Changement de décors" (No. 7) is brilliantly realized. Overall, it's a strong, if slightly flawed effort. The same might be said of L'enfant prodigue (The Prodigal Son), also performed complete here. The work, inspired by the Biblical story, is more simply constructed (the writing is mostly two-part) and more tuneful. Jurowski draws out a generally fine performance, with exceptional orchestral balances. But, again, some of his tempo choices and phrasing can seem a tad lackluster, as in "L'enjóleuse," where the playing is only smooth and lively, not bouncy and spirited. Rozhdestvensky, who was a teacher of Jurowski, recorded both ballets with fine results in the mid-'80s for Melodiya. Järvi (Chandos) and Kuchar (Naxos) followed with strong recordings of The Prodigal Son. Jurowski's CPO account features better sound than any of these three and a fairly strong reading, too, though Rozhdestvensky is interpretively a rung or two higher in both works. © TiVo
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Classical - Released June 1, 2018 | Profil

Issued on three CDs between 2013 and 2018, these Brahms recordings by Jukka-Pekka-Saraste and the WDR Sinfonieorchester comprise a standard set of the four symphonies, the Academic Festival Overture, the Tragic Overture, and the Variations on a Theme of Haydn. These seven works are commonly packaged together, and Saraste's set bears comparison with many similar packages, both in his interpretations and the orchestra's performances. Saraste's approach to the symphonies is conventional and not too far removed from mid-20th century readings, with no overt attempts at imitating a period style or reducing the orchestra's size to 19th century norms. However, the playing is surprisingly light and agile, which are qualities seldom found in mainstream Brahms, and Saraste aims for clarity of details and transparent textures, which are among the goals of historically informed performances. His attention to internal parts and emphasis on distinct instrumental colors give the music a certain freshness, and the generally fleet tempos and propulsive rhythms maintain a feeling of energy and vitality. Profil's reproduction is clear and cleanly engineered, with a vibrant sound and spaciousness that approaches audiophile quality. Highly recommended. © TiVo
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Classical - Released August 15, 2000 | CPO

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Classical - Released November 8, 2019 | PentaTone

Booklet
Maestro Marek Janowski and the WDR Symphony Orchestra present Beethoven’s Fifth and Sixth Symphonies. Premiered during the same concert in 1808, these two symphonies present two sides of Beethoven’s musical persona. Whereas the Fifth is legendary for its drama and forward urge the “Pastoral” Sixth offers idyllic sounds, albeit shortly interrupted by a thunderstorm that resembles the tempestuous development of the Fifth. Programmed together, these two pieces constitute a fascinating portrait of Beethoven at the height of his creative powers. © Pentatone
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Opera - Released January 1, 2016 | Orfeo

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Classical - Released January 1, 2000 | SWR Classic

Vol. 3 of Roger Norrington's Essential Mozart Symphonies follows the established format of including one early, one middle, and one late symphony. In this case, the middle symphony is a loosely applied term as it is a three-movement work drawn from the Posthorn Serenade. The most intriguing aspects of these recordings continue to be Norrington's decisions regarding his ideas of performance practice. Through extensive research, Norrington set out to use the same number of musicians used in each work's premiere, as well as the same orchestral layout, articulation, vibrato, and musical phrasing. All of these decisions are executed with the modern-instrument-playing Radio-Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart. While the use of period performance practice on modern instruments may seem a little odd, the results are still quite favorable. The extremely small orchestra size used for the first two symphonies on the album (K. 48 and K. 320) is exceptionally clean, lucid, and precise. Norrington's interpretations are energetic and forward-moving throughout, giving renewed energy even to the symphonies' slow movements. The impact of orchestra size on the sound quality is made even more noticeable at the beginning of Symphony No. 40, which uses twice the number of strings as the Symphony K. 48. While some of the clarity and precision are lost, it is easy to see how this behemoth orchestra size (at least in his day) must have appealed to Mozart as it is able to provide so much more power, depth, and intensity to the dark, tragic Fortieth Symphony. Even listeners who think they have their "favorite Mozart symphony albums" already picked out should still give Norrington's interpretations a try. © TiVo
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Classical - Released May 4, 2012 | audite Musikproduktion

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Like Vol. 1 of Audite's survey of Edvard Grieg's complete symphonic music, Vol. 2 cleverly combines familiar with more obscure. The part of familiar is filled by the Holberg Suite for string orchestra. It is curious that this should be one of Grieg's most well-known works as the composer was intentionally subduing the folkloric and nationalistic characteristics that defined him in favor of capturing the feeling of a Baroque dance suite. The majority of the remaining works on the album focus on Grieg's own transcriptions for string orchestra of his popular (in Norway) songs. The omission of the text from these songs has little impact on Grieg's unmistakable idiom, folksy charm, and rhythmic vitality. Performed by the WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln under veteran Scandinavian conductor Eivind Aadland, these works spring to life through Audite's rich, vibrant sound; spaciousness and extraordinary detail are especially noticeable on the album's SACD layer. Aadland's upbringing surrounded by Grieg's music is obvious in the natural, almost effortless way that he guides the orchestra, drawing out the elegant, vocal qualities of the compositions while simultaneously highlighting the rhythms and harmonies that characterize Grieg's folk popularity. The orchestra's strings play with warmth and clarity and an exceptional dynamic range. © TiVo
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Classical - Released June 10, 2016 | Wergo

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Classical - Released March 1, 2009 | SWR Classic

Booklet
Because the Symphony No. 5 in E minor by Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky has been performed, recorded, reissued, and rehashed so many times it has become a tired but true warhorse that is brought out time and again with little justification, and the occasions when it appears in insightful and important performances are few and far between. One wonders what justification Roger Norrington had in recording this symphony for Hänssler with the Radio-Sinfonieorchester-Stuttgart des SWR, but whatever it was, it is insufficient to give this recording any meaningful place among myriad others. Certainly, Norrington's ideas about nineteenth century instrumentation, orchestral sound, seating arrangements, and the like are not urgent enough to make anyone listen to this symphony with new ears. No one derives any great benefit from hearing Tchaikovsky's strings with little to no vibrato, or from having the lean, shiny Norrington sound applied to one of the most famously lush works in the repertoire. The technical changes he brings are slight, his interpretive innovations seem minor, and his tempos and phrasing are pretty much what everybody else chooses. Furthermore, the lack of real emotion in this rather sterile performance makes one wish Norrington would have stayed in the early music category and not flirted with a repertoire he has little feeling for. His sprightly reading of the Nutcracker Suite, however, is nice and enjoyable, and the lightness of this ballet music sorts well with Norrington's Classical bent. But because the gloomy and stormy Fifth is so far out of this conductor's ken, it really should have been replaced with a less frequently performed symphony that would have been much closer to his temperament. That, at least, could be justified, but not this exercise in futility. © TiVo