STRAUSS: An Alpine Symphony, Op. 64. Symphonic Fantasy Die Frau Ohne
HINDEMITH: Noblissima Visione. Mathis der Maler. Symphonic Metamorphosis
on Themes of Carl Maria von Weber
PETTERSSON: Symphony No. 6
Two terrific SACDs from BIS featuring the remarkable São Paulo Symphony Orchestra which is based in the largest city in Brazil. In recent years, this orchestra has been recognized by international tours and their recordings. They will add to their prestige with these disks of Strauss and Hindemith. The three major Hindemith symphonic works fit onto a well-filled SACD (71:41). These are conducted by John Neschling, a native of Rio de Janeiro who has played an active role in Brazil's musical scene; he was principal conductor of the OSESP from 1997-2009. Neschling leads exemplary performances of the Hindemith scores, and the orchestra plays superbly. The composer's imaginative use of percussion has been vividly captured by the BIS engineers. Producer for these sessions was Uli Schneider with Ingo Petry as sound engineer. The Strauss SACD is magnificent. Frank Shipway is a British conductor who has respectable credentials and made highly regarded recordings of symphonies of Tchaikovsky, Mahler and Shostakovich, as well as lighter music. Based on what is heard on this new disk, Shipway totally understands music of Richard Strauss. This Alpine Symphony is a memorable trip through the mountains, carefully paced with stunning climaxes. And the suite from Die Frau ohne Schatten is powerful indeed. Both of these heavily-orchestrated works are played in virtuoso fashion by the Brazilian orchestra, and the engineering crew is to be commended. Again the producer is Uli Schneider, but this time the sound engineer was Thore Brinkmann. Their collaboration produced a sonic showcase. It is a pleasure to actually hear the massed hunting horns in the symphny's The Ascent coming from the rear, an obvious effect missed on all other recordings. Both of these SACDs are recommended without reservation.
Swedish composer Allan Petterson (1910-1980) had a poverty-ridden existence for most of his life living a solitary ewxistence. Virtually unknown in musical circles, ill with rheumatoid arthritis, he continued to compose mainly symphonic works, each a chapter of a troubled, unfulfilled life. Finally, in 1964 the Swedish government recognized he was an important composer and granted him a guaranteed income. Many of Petterson's 15 symphonies have been recorded, and now we have this new version of Symphony No. 6 (there is a previous recordings conducted by Manfred Trojhan). This dark, brooding symphony is long (60 min) and there is no end to the gloom and despair. The symphony doubtless here receives a sympathetic performance by the fine orchestra conducted by Christian Lindberg who already enjoys a fantastic career as a trombone virtuoso and has made countless recordings of demanding music for that instrument—including many works he commissioned. Excellent audio, although little use is made of rear channels.
R.E.B. (March 2013)