Classical, March 2019

Symphony No 5
Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra/Daniel Harding
HMM902366 (downloads up to 48kHz/24-bit resolution)

With Mahler cycles under way from both Adam and Iván Fischer (Nos 7 and 8 still to come), Vänskä and latterly the maverick Currentzis, Daniel Harding's is the one I'd put my money on. A former assistant to Mahlerians Simon Rattle and Claudio Abbado, in Symphony No 5

his measured speeds (longer timings than Abbado's with the BPO, for instance, finale excepted) and meticulous control of balance allow every strand in the orchestra to be articulate, while the constant emotional shifts, from the opening 'barracks call' trumpet to the exuberant conclusion are tellingly realised. As with their No 9 [HFN Jun '18] the Swedish RSO's Berwaldhallen recording is excellent. CB


Symphonies Nos 40 and 41, 'Jupiter'
Bavarian RSO/Herbert Blomstedt
BR Klassik 900164 (downloads to 48kHz/24-bit resolution)

Cutting accents and short note values: Blomstedt [HFN Mar '18 ] takes all repeats in this very individual account of the two late Symphonies. (It's hard to accept Harnoncourt's claim that Nos 39-41 are really meant to be seen as a single work.) Minuets are quite fast, while the 6/8 Andante of the G-minor is persuasively characterised in an unexpectedly 'chirrupy' way. The BR Klassik website confirms these as live recordings from the Munich Herkulessaal from 2013 and 2017 (information missing from the PDF download booklet). Very fine playing, and a strong recommendation. CB


Le Coq d'Or/The Firebird (complete ballet)
RLPO/Vasily Petrenko
Onyx ONYX4175 (downloads to 96kHz/24-bit resolution)

Master and pupil, and two scores where LSO/Doráti Mercury recordings spring to mind – the 1959 Firebird a gramophone classic [now Speakers Corner 180g vinyl]. But this Andrew Cornall/Philip Siney production eclipses it technically, the finale and 'Kaschei's Infernal Dance' offering real demonstration-worthy set-pieces! Petrenko is occasionally a little slow (as in his Rite Of Spring) and takes some 7m longer over the whole ballet than Doráti. And in the Rimsky Suite Doráti brought more character to the seductive 'Queen Of Shemakha' in (iii) – although his version suffered from typically exaggerated Mercury separation. CB


Symphonies Nos 5 and 8, 'Unfinished'
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra/Claudio Abbado
DG 483 5620 (downloads to 44.1kHz/16-bit resolution)

Claudio Abbado's successful Salzburg Festival debut with the VPO prompted the orchestra to invite him back for this May 1971 Musikverein subscription concert. Austrian Radio tapes in good stereo sound were recently discovered and remastered here – the CD booklet has appreciative essays about the conductor (whose very last Lucerne programme included the 'Unfinished'). His complete Schubert cycle was with the COE and this is a worthwhile complement. Tempi are more 'traditional' and 8(ii) more naturally expressive; reconceived speeds are faster in the COE No 5, recorded 15 years later. CB