Notes and Editorial Reviews
Symphony No. 1. Orchestral Suites: No. 1; No. 2.
Symphony No. 29.
The Magic Flute:
Symphony No. 1.
3 Pieces for Strings.
Constantin Silvestri, cond; Bournemouth SO
ROMANIAN MUSICAL ADVENTURE 6124, mono (2 CDs: 151:26)
From 1961 until his death in 1969, Constantin Silvestri was the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra’s principal conductor. On its surface a curious marriage between a relatively provincial ensemble (at the time) and a cosmopolitan, internationally famed musician, it proved an excellent long-term relationship. In Silvestri, the orchestra acquired a magnificent trainer, someone as interested in the color of each instrument as he was in a tight ensemble. In Bournemouth, Silvestri in turn had his own orchestra to work with, mold, and build, much as Barbirolli had the Hallé.
These performances were recorded live, from 1963 through 1967, by the BBC. There are relatively quick tempos throughout, perhaps most noticeable in the very modern (for its time) performance of Mozart’s Symphony No. 29, but also in a fleet and exuberant “Classical” Symphony. Silverstri never lacks for poise, though, and his slow movements—the Sarabande in Enescu’s Second Orchestral Suite, the Lent movement of the same composer’s First Symphony—have a naturally flexible phrasing that avoids the prosaic “let’s get this over with so we can avoid emotional scenes” feeling heard in the work of a few recent conductors.
The First Orchestral Suite is the best version of this work I’ve heard to date, surpassing Mandeal/Bucharest Phil (Arte Nova 373140), Foster/Monte Carlo Phil (Erato 75118), Conta/Romanian RSO (Marco Polo 223144), and Andrescu/Romanian National RO (Olympia 444, deleted). The Bournemouth orchestra was very much a work in progress at the time, hardly helped in this respect by being caught at a live event rather than through the multiple studio takes that lead to a cleaner result, but that night in 1963 they were on. It shows in the range of nuanced effects Silvestri secures in this work. The First Symphony, too, is the best I’ve heard, energetic and richly romantic, trumping the insightful but sometimes sluggish Mandeal/Bucharest (Arte Nova 373140). The “Classical” Symphony (with a truly whirlwind finale) and Second Orchestral Suite are richly characterized, and the Mozart reflects Silvestri’s abiding concerns with clarity and detail. Analog these may be, and not the best analog recordings at that, but the textures are never muddied.
As a charming dividend, we get a short work in three movements composed by Silvestri. The
Three Pieces for Strings
bustle with neoclassical energy, but they don’t lack for Mediterranean warmth, either. The current version easily supersedes the only other recording in my collection, an LP on Electrecord 0491 featuring Mircea Critescu leading the spirited but unsophisticated Cluj-Napoca Phil.
The sound quality is variable. Some selections are moderately boxy, missing both hall resonance and a degree of treble response. The mikes in the Second Orchestral Suite seem oddly unbalanced, with some instruments considerably more recessive than others. Enescu’s First Orchestral Suite and the three Dvo?ák
are the best, with reasonable frequency response and balance, and a subtly resonant bloom. None of the selections on the disc are unlistenable, however, and the sonic problems fade once Silvestri’s magic takes over.
This is definitely a welcome release. You won’t find any of this material as conducted by Silvestri currently duplicated in the U.S. catalog. Strongly recommended.
FANFARE: Barry Brenesal
Works on This Recording
Die Zauberflöte, K 620: Overture by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
Written: 1791; Vienna, Austria
Be the first to review this title