Colin Davis is arguably the finest Berlioz conductor in the world; both of his recordings of Les Troyens are magnificent and elsewhere he's rarely bettered. His winning streak continues with this live performance with the LSO of Harold in Italy and the ballet music from Troyens. Tabea Zimmermann's solo viola is as grand, brilliantly flavorful, and picturesque as the LSO's playing; and the entire performance swift and rhythmically propulsive is simply fantastic.
Götz Friedrich’s controversial Tannhäuser production from 1978 scandalized the Bayreuth old guard while revealing Tannhäuser’s revolutionary qualities to a new age of Wagner lovers.This brilliantly iconoclastic production, superbly sung and conducted, ushered in a new age of Wagner interpretation. Choreography of the ‘Bacchanal’ by John Neumeier and set design and costumes by the international well known stage designer Jürgen Rose. A superb cast led by Spas Wenkoff as Tannhäuser, Gwyneth Jones as Venus as well as Elisabeth and Bernd Weikl as Wolfram.
Covent Garden’s 2003 production of The Magic Flute , designed by John F. Macfarlane, directed by David McVicar, and conducted by Sir Colin Davis, is magnificent from a strictly musical standpoint. More than that, it’s vastly entertaining. The comedic elements of the story integrate far more comfortably than is often the case with Schikaneder’s high-minded (if vague) theme of a quest for enlightenment, particularly in the second act. Visually, the production is a feast, yet it doesn’t distract from the music. The intention was to maintain an 18th-century feel but to play freely with that aesthetic…
Originally recorded in the 1960s using modern instruments, a good-sized chorus and standard A-440 concert pitch, this is not a Messiah for fanatics of historically informed performances. On the other hand, Sir Colin Davis strikes an intelligent compromise between conventional forces and an awareness of Baroque performance practice that holds up remarkably well after three-plus decades. Textures and articulations are light, tempi are quick (sometimes too quick for soloists' maximum comfort) and ornamentation is not only permitted but encouraged. Moreover, this is a note-complete Messiah, except for an odd cut in the Da Capo of "He was despised," that chooses among the differing versions of various numbers with good results. Orchestra and choir execute the familiar music with superb precision and diction. The soloists, all English, give committed, idiomatic performances of their numbers, though as mentioned above, they occasionally seem taxed in their florid music.
Best of 2007 Classical CDs ‘This thrilling performance was given in the Barbican last May when Sir Colin excelled himself in the power & nobility of his interpretation, with the LSO in terrific form, & the American soprano Christine Brewer sang with gleaming white-hot tone as Leonore. The final paean of joy at liberation is overwhelming. 1st-class recording quality.
Recorded in the mid-1970s with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, this classic cycle of symphonies and tone poems firmly established Sir Colin Davis's reputation as one the greatest Sibelius interpreters. Nearly forty years on and the cycle remains as grand and dynamic as ever.
Colin Davis’s 1969 recording remains a landmark event, the first time this grand opera of Meyerbeerian length, spectacular éclat and Wagnerian artistic ambition had found its way complete onto LP. It effectively changed views about Berlioz the opera composer and orchestral genius and has for many remained the yardstick by which all later performances have been judged. Although studio recorded, it was based on the Covent Garden casting of the day – Jon Vickers’s heroic Aeneas and Josephine Veasey’s voluptuous Dido – with a couple of Frenchmen to boost the ranks of lesser Trojans and Carthaginians…
Elgar’s Violin Concerto has a certain mystique about it independent of the knee-jerk obeisance it has received in the British press. It probably is the longest and most difficult of all Romantic violin concertos, requiring not just great technical facility but great concentration from the soloist and a real partnership of equals with the orchestra. And like all of Elgar’s large orchestral works, it is extremely episodic in construction and liable to fall apart if not handled with a compelling sense of the long line. In reviewing the score while listening to this excellent performance, I was struck by just how fussy Elgar’s indications often are: the constant accelerandos and ritards, and the minute (and impractical) dynamic indications that ask more questions than they sometimes answer. No version, least of all the composer’s own, even attempts to realize them all: it would be impossible without italicizing and sectionalizing the work to death.