Notes and Editorial Reviews
In Stuttgart, 1983 - 1989, Neville Marriner followed Sergiu Celibidache, offering quite the contrast to that willfully prodigious Romanian broodingly charismatic style with his own easygoing, less spectacular but genial manner of music making. His sound wasn’t as dense and carefully crafted, but the ensemble’s playing became lighter and more flexible, agile rather than probing. It is in his Stuttgart period that Marriner increasingly focused on repertoire that went beyond the baroque and classical periods. This compilation offers repertoire which music lovers will be less likely to associate with Marriner: German romanticism, including all of Schumann’s Symphonies, Richard Strauss, Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff, Mahler, Bartók and Gershwin – The fundamental impression that comes from re-listening to these performances, apart from good and fresh music-making, is one of sympathetic music-making. That feels about right as an epitaph for the man and his body of work.
A highlight here is a fine digital set of Tchaikovsky’s four orchestral suites, performances that combine geniality, deft playing and, in the finales of the Third and Fourth Suites, a fair helping of the bravura excitement. Bartók’s Miraculous Mandarin Suite has plenty of drive and if the finale of Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta sounds a little muddled in places, impressive accounts of Britten’s Sinfonia da Requiem and Honegger’s Third Symphony more than make amends. Mahler’s Fourth and Rachmaninov’s Second Symphonies share a certain transparency, a quality that also informs Marriner’s admirable performances of the Schumann symphonies. Also included is music by Beethoven, Richard Strauss, Copland and Gershwin, and rather cheesily put-together compendia of West Side Story and Porgy and Bess ‘melodies’. All the same, the set can be enthusiastically recommended and the sound is excellent throughout.