Notes and Editorial Reviews
Eduardo Mata leads a virile performance of Prokofiev’s Alexander Nevsky cantata, wherein the Dallas Symphony’s bold and occasionally brash playing commands your attention–especially so in The Crusaders In Pskov and Battle on the Ice–while the Dallas Symphony Chorus musters up a darkly robust sound that sets and maintains the music’s grim mood. This grimness turns tender for the Field of the Dead, where the chorus provides a soothing cushion for Mariana Paunova’s rich-voiced, Slavic-toned alto solo. Even so, Mata’s rendition sounds mild after the eviscerating and enthralling performances by Ancerl and Schippers. Abbado’s is another strong rendition that completes the troika of great Nevsky recordings. Mata has the advantage of Dorian’s vivid, high-impact recording which has held up very well since it was made in 1993.
Good recorded sound also informs the coupled Shostakovich Symphony No. 9. Again the Dallas Symphony’s playing is technically beyond reproach, and Mata’s keen conducting illuminates Shostakovich’s unique orchestral timbres and biting rhythms. The opening Allegro is brisk and bright, while the Moderato charms with its graceful melancholy. However, the rather gingerly played trumpet solo in the Presto scherzo points up the lack of edginess in this performance, something you’ll find in abundance in Rudolf Barshai’s gripping rendition on Brilliant Classics. So, while not the last word in either work, this disc serves as an excellent memento of the Dallas Symphony’s Mata period.
-- Victor Carr Jr., ClassicsToday.com