Classical, September 2021

hfnalbum.pngZurich Tonhalle Orch/Paavo Järvi
Tchaikovsky: Symphonies Nos 2, 'Little Russian', and 4
Alpha ALPHA735 (downloads to 192kHz/24-bit resolution)

Järvi's Zurich cycle had an unpromising start [HFN May '21] but these are recommendable performances that easily surpass the Bychkov/Decca equivalents, however attractive the Czech PO timbres there may sound – eg, the horn solo at the start of No 2. The grandeur with which the finale starts is anything but 'Little' (the nickname relates to Tchaikovsky's use of Ukrainian folk tunes), and if No 4 doesn't shift my allegiance to the LSO/Markevitch on Philips it's nevertheless an account that equally will invite repetition. In (iii) you twice hear a couple of accents in the second violins not in my score, or noticed with other versions, but they may be authentic. The sound is very good indeed – as is the orchestral playing. CB


Viktoria Mullova & Alasdair Beatson
Beethoven: Violin Sonatas Opp.23; 24, 'Spring'; 30:2
Onyx ONYX4221 (downloads to 96kHz/24-bit resolution)

It's over a decade since Viktoria Mullova's first pairing of Beethoven Sonatas with fortepiano accompaniment, where we had the 'Kreutzer'. Now comes the equally popular 'Spring' but in a different partnership. Playing an 1805 Walter replica instrument, against Mullova's gut-strung 1750 Guadagnini, Alasdair Beatson also writes the booklet intro. Working from the latest Bärenreiter Edition, these realistic recordings were produced in 2021 by Mullova's husband, at Wyaston Leys. The unison runs in the Op.24 scherzo show the hand-in-glove nature of the partnership, Mullova not once hogging the limelight. CB


Isabelle Faust, Orchestre De Paris/Pablo Heras-Casado
Eötvös: Alhambra Concerto/Stravinsky: Rite of Spring
Harmonia Mundi HMM902655 (downloads to 96kHz/24-bit res)

The third violin concerto by Péter Eötvös is dedicated to these two artists and was premiered in Granada in 2019. His fascinating explanation of it all – the cryptograms and mandolin 'pursuing' Faust, etc – is in the HM booklet (and online). And how wonderfully she plays. Recommended strongly, but do we need another Rite of Spring? Pablo Heras-Casado brings out every detail but smoothes away all sense of excitement: like coasting through the Stravinskyan landscape in a Bentley. The irony is that Eötvös led a superb recorded German youth orchestra 2006 performance for the BMC label. CB


Berliner Philharmoniker/Claudio Abbado
Mahler: Symphony No 10 – Adagio
Berliner Philharmoniker BPHR2003649 (48kHz/24-bit resolution)

This is excerpted from the Berlin orchestra's eight-conductor, 2011 to 2020 Mahler live cycle: €59 as a download, a lot more in physical formats, although there you can see all ten performances too. The single work download includes the lavish 128pp booklet PDF. The Digital Concert Hall also has a 3m video clip from Abbado's May 2011 account of the 10th Adagio (memorised from the Cooke Edition). This is a very great account of a piece that ranges from despair to life-embracement (those Berlin winds in glorious brightness) and compels the attention from start to finish. Extraordinary – good sound too. CB