Following his critically-acclaimed Elgar Cello Concerto recording with Alisa Weilerstein, Barenboim turns to the symphonies. The Second Symphony is released first, in a 2013 recording with the Staatskapelle Berlin. The First Symphony will follow in 2015.
As the present principal conductor of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, Sakari Oramo has chosen works by Edward Elgar, a composer whose music he has been a fervent advocate of since his tenure at the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Oramo’s commitment to Elgar has been rewarded with a medal of honour from the British Elgar Society.
This is Ivan Fischer’s second Mahler symphony for Channel Classics with the Budapest Festival Orchestra, his first being the Sixth recorded in February 2005. His opening to this Resurrection symphony, its hero’s Funeral Rites, is disciplined with touches of brusqueness in the brass. But as this is supposed to ask ‘Why did you live?’ I’m very aware of Fischer’s empathy for the visionary aspects of the movement, as if to answer ‘To experience all that’s lovely’.
This is the world premiere recording of Vasks' second symphony. It is a 40-minute, one-movement work which opens with a glorious bang, with the orchestra at its most powerful and busy. A few minutes in, Vasks offers us repose which is almost religious, there is a buildup and then more reflection, and a long crescendo to great might again. The work ends on a beautifully introspective, soft, haunting refrain. Vasks is primarily a Romantic, so the work is tonal; there are touches of Kancheli (but not as much breast-beating), Shostakovich (again, not as pessimistic).
The music of renowned Chinese composer Xia Guan has been received with acclaim in Moscow, Vienna, Tokyo and New York. The solemn first movement of Earth Requiem, a commemoration of the devastating 2008 Sichuan earthquake, is heard here in an orchestral version that depicts ‘the suffering people who gaze upwards’. The epic Symphony No. 2 ‘Hope’ is a reflection upon the co-existence of good and evil in mankind, agony and hope, in music of considerable breadth and increasing warmth. Heroic drama animates the vividly scored Symphonic Ballade, which draws on the music of Guan’s opera Sorrowful Dawn, the story of China’s War of Liberation following the end of World War Two.