Notes and Editorial Reviews
This is a terrific disc, and as with this team's previous coupling of Sibelius and Tubin, the repertoire selection increases its value considerably. Paavo Järvi's New World Symphony isn't as physically exciting as Bernstein's (Sony) or Harnoncourt's, but it's supremely well played and conducted--not to mention recorded. Timpani are rock-solid, with the cannon-volleys in the scherzo thrilling in their impact. Järvi also (happily) pays an unusual amount of attention to the bottom of the orchestra. Trombones, rather than trumpets, dominate the coda of the first movement, as well they should since they have the tune. In the scherzo, this is one of the few performances after Klemperer's that
lets you hear the principal theme in all of its various imitative entries, including the crucial one in the lower strings during the first big tutti. In short, this really is how the piece ought to sound, and it's amazing how often details such as these are overlooked or ignored.
Interpretively, Järvi proves himself supremely self-assured and convincing. Listen to how well he slows down for the first movement's second subject, then gets back to the allegro tempo. On the other hand, he very wisely refuses to slow down for the scherzo's secondary theme and trio section, sustaining the rhythmic energy throughout, and the same applies to the most dangerous spot in the symphony--the second subject of the finale, which almost always bogs down in less sensitive performances. In the Largo, after a gorgeous opening chorale the English horn solo is done about as well as it can be, and the big outburst toward the end is ample, but not exaggerated. There may be details of this or that performance that you prefer to this one, but the level of insight and the quality of the playing is such that it silences criticism.
And the Martinu is just as splendid, perhaps (along with Thomson on Chandos) the best version of this symphony yet committed to disc. In this sunny, lyrical work lasting slightly more than 20 minutes Järvi and his players not only project its perpetually syncopated rhythms without a trace of stiffness, but they always seem to know how to balance Martinu's singing melodies against his very busy accompaniments. This is no easy task in the first movement, with its rippling figuration for strings, harp, and piano that persists for pages at a time. The woodwind solos in the Andante are just marvelous, and the peppy, neo-classical qualities of the scherzo and finale have just the right freshness and verve, without forcing. Martinu's debt to his teacher, Albert Roussel, is particularly evident in these last two movements. Sensationally clean and clear sonics wrap up an irresistible package. Even if you already own 50 or 60 New World symphonies, this disc deserves a home in yours. [9/8/2005]
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com Read less
Works on This Recording
Symphony no 2 by Bohuslav Martinu
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1943; USA
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