Wednesday, September 06, 2006

CD REVIEW: Grieg: Symphonic Dances/ERSO

Another just discovered CD review, this time of Paavo and the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra's recording of works by Grieg, from Audiophile audition:
GRIEG: Symphonic Dances; Elegiac Melodies; Norwegian Dances; Holberg Suite - Estonian National Symphony Orchestra /Paavo Järvi - Virgin Classics 3-44722-2 79:40 *****:

This wonderful music by Grieg has long served as ideal orchestral demonstration pieces for audiophiles. The sumptuous textures and colorful orchestrations of the two sets of dances, and the more intimate requirements of the strings only Holberg Suite, are not display pieces in the fashion of the 1812 Overture; rather, they are of simply stunning beauty from the first bar. Adding two of the composer’s best-known songs (one melancholy, one deeply sad) in their familiar orchestral settings adds the perfect musical and emotional relief.

As he did with his first Grieg disc for Virgin Classics, Paavo Järvi shows how to frame Grieg’s lyricism and drama with exquisitely colored winds and fills in the textures with string sound that ranges from pure and clear to romantic and lush, always as the music requires. The only complaint may be a musical one, that Grieg’s constantly shifting emotional states are smoothed over a bit.

As I have said, the recording, made in Estonia Concert Hall in Tallin, is enormously beautiful, almost three-dimensional but lacking the last bit of hall ambience. The Holberg Suite, which is up against competition from many famous chamber orchestras, the stiffest of which may come Orpheus on DG, still has great detail and definition, and seems to have been recorded with a different, more open acoustic setting.

- Laurence Vittes (published 8/21/06)

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