RICCARDO CHAILLY / ROYAL CONCERTGEBOUW ORCHESTRA - Live - The Radio Recordings

VERDI: La forza del destino overture (June 20, 1986). BERIO: Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra (Antonio Ballista and Bruno Canino, pianists/Jan. 6, 1985). TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No. 1 in G minor, Op. 13 "Winter Daydreams" (Jan. 12, 1985). RIHM: Schwartzer und roter Tanz from the ballet Tutuguri (April 3, 1986). BARTOK: Violin Concerto No. 1 (Schlomo Mintz, violinist/Nov. 5, 1987). BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 2 in D, Op. 36 (Aug. 27, 1986). BERIO: Requies "In Memoriam Cathy Berberian" (April 6, 1986). MUSSORGSKY: Songs and Dances of Death (Kolos Kovacs, bass/Nov. 1, 1987). ZEMLINSKY: Die Seejungfrau Fantasy for Orchestra (Oct. 24, 1986). MADERNA: Studi per "Il Processo" di Franz Kafka (Eberhard Esche, speaker; Edda Moser, soprano/Nov. 19, 1989). MAHLER: Kindertotenlieder (Robert Holl, bass/Oct. 12, 1989). BERNSTEIN: Serenade (Jaap van Zewden, violinist/Nov. 10, 1988). BERIO: Folk Songs (Jard van Nes, mezzo-soprano/April 6, 1986). SHOSTAKOVICH: Cello Concerto No. 2, Op. 126 (Lynn Harrell, celllist/Aug. 20, 1988). BERIO: Formazioni (Mar. 3, 1988). DEBUSSY: Khamma (Oct. 21, 1993). VAN KEULEN: Tympan for Large Orchestra (Sept. 26, 1991). PROKOFIEV: Symphony No. 3 in C minor, Op. 44 (Mar. 1, 1991). BERIO: Concerto II "Echoing curves" (Bruno Canino, pianist/Mar. 2, 1991). SCHAT: The Heavens (April 3, 1992). WEBERN: Passacaglia, Op. 1 (Feb. 2, 1992). SCHOENBERG: Kammersymphonie No. 1 in E, Op. 9 (Jan. 16, 1992). STRAVINSKY: Petrushka (Oct. 21, 1993). BERG: Sonata for Piano, Op. 1 (Feb. 17, 1993). DIEPENBROCK: Im grossen Schweigen (Hakan Hagegard, baritone/Feb. 10, 1994). MOZART: Piano Concerto No. 14 in E flat, KV 449 (Maria Joao Pires, pianist/Feb. 17, 1994). HINDEMITH: Kammermusik No. 2, Op. 36 No. 1 (Ronald Brautigam, pianist/Oct. 25, 1990). KEURIS: Concerto for Organ and Orchestra (Leo van Doeselaar, organist/Mar. 19, 1993). BERG: Violin Concerto (Frank Peter Zimmermann, violinist/June 6, 1996). MAHLER: Symphony No. 8 in E flat (Alessandra Marc, Julia Faulkner, Cyndia Sieden, sopranos; Jard van Nes, Birgit Remmert, altos; Andreas Schmidt, baritone; Robert Holl, bass; Prague Philharmonic Choir; Kuhn's Mixed Choir; Boy's Choir from St. Bavo Cathedral; Sacramentskoor Breda/May 16 , 1995). BERG: Sieben fruhe Lieder (Barbara Bonney, soprano/Sept. 26, 1999). WAGNER: "Dawn and Siegfried's Rhine Journey" from Gotterdammerung (May 2, 1995). BRUCKNER: Mass No. 3 in F minor (Luba Orgonasova, soprano; Nathalie Stujtzmann, alto; Hans Peter Blochwitz, tenor;l Kurt Moll, bass; Netherlands Radio Choir/Oct. 13, 1996). STRAVINSKY: Agon (Sept. 16, 2001). PROKOFIEV: Piano Concerto No. 3 in C, Op. 26 (Martha Argerich, pianist/Dec. 19, 1998). VARESE: Ameriques (Dec. 13, 1996). DVD: STRAVINSKY: Firebird Suite (1945). Pulcinella (Sonia Ganassi, mezzo-soprano; Kenneth Tarver, tenor; Simone Alberghini, bass/Dec. 25, 2002). The Rite of Spring (Dec. 25, 2002)
Royal Concertgebouw Orch/Riccardo Chailly, cond.
RN Q DISC MCCM 97033 (13CDs/1 DVD VIDEO)TT: 16 hrs . 23 min. DVD VIDEO 1 hr. 44 min.

This is a well-deserved tribute to Riccardo Chailly as he leaves the Royal Concertgebouw to assume posts with the Leipzig Opera, Gewandhaus Orchestra and the Verdi Orchestra of Milan. The 13-CD set contains much of value and focuses on one of the Italian conductor's primary interests—contemporary music. His first concert with the RCOA January 7, 1985 featured music of Berio, Petrassi and Bussotti, getting favorable reviews but a small audience, although eventually the Dutch accepted Chailly's venturesome programming and bought more tickets for his "new music" concerts.

CD notes suggest the relationship between Chailly, the orchestra and management was perhaps a bit strained, saying in 2001 the orchestra elected to slowly phase out the working relationship with its principal conductor through 2008. This development, combined with what Chailly himself calls "a new challenge," gave him cause not to renew his contract after 2004. Because of "his great merit and deep commitment" and "his exceptional interpretations within a vast repertory" for the sixteen years during which he officially held the position of principal conductor, the title of conductor emeritus was conferred on Riccardo Chailly in 2003.

It's disappointing that there is much duplication of repertory in this set—it contains almost seven hours of music Chailly and the RCOA recorded commercially (works by Debussy, Prokofiev, Stravinsky's Petrushka, Berg sonata and songs, Schat, Debussy, Mahler Eighth, Varese, Schoenberg, Hindemith, Diepenbrock). Admittedly, there is a difference: in this set we have live performances rather than recording sessions, but would not the achievements of Chailly been better represented by works he had not recorded commercially? If these duplications were eliminated they could have included other Chailly performances—I' ve heard broadcasts of Wagner's Tannhäuser Overture and Venusberg Music, Orff's Carmina Burana and many other performances that were magnificent. Still, collectors surely will wish to investigate this Chailly collection. The superb performances have been recorded with breadth, warmth and wide dynamics by the Dutch radio staff—aurally this set is a delight.

The DVD in this set is a gem—three Stravinsky masterpieces in extraordinary performances. What a pleasure it is to watch while listening to the RCOA rip through The Rite of Spring, Pulcinella and the 1945 Firebird suite! The camera is in the right place most of the time, focusing often on Chailly, and the stereo sound is terrific. This set is worth owning just for the DVD.

An ominous word: this set will not be distributed in the United States. According to the distributor, NM Classics that produces it has lost much of its government funding. It seems the label will produce no more, which means that we may never have volumes III - V in the valuable Royal Concertgebour Orchestra Anthology, and the fine multi-CD sets devoted to Mengelberg and Van Beinum may no longer be produced. We certainly hope this information is incorrect, and will keep you advised. In the meantime, get any NM Classics sets you wish to own as there is a possibility they may disappear.

R.E.B. (August 2004)