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CD Review

Gustav Holst

  • Walt Whitman Overture, Op. 7
  • Symphony in F Major "The Cotswolds", Op. 8
  • Japanese Suite, Op. 33
  • Symphonic Poem "Indra", Op. 13
  • A Winter Idyll
Ulster Orchestra/JoAnn Falletta
Naxos 8.572914 65:55
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After listening to this disc a couple times I kept getting the feeling that perhaps the music was better than what I was hearing. So I tapped my collection for parallel recordings and pulled out Sir Adrian Boult's recording of Japanese Suite with the London Symphony Orchestra (Lyrita 222) Yep, there is more music here than I hear in Falletta's rendition.

From the first notes I was able to detect that Boult was able to pull from the solo contributions a different sound that was more "oriental" and bring forth details, such as bells and chimes, that are buried in the orchestral tapestry in the Ulster recording. There is also a more "oriental" feel in the strings effected by a slightly different use of rubato. From beginning to end Boult delivers a better performance and the recording is also better detailed with more transparency. I mean, this does not transform this into "great" music. It still sounds like "oriental" music written by someone who heard oriental music hummed for him (which it was).

I am finding a tendency in recently recorded music to provide generic, processed offerings that have no personality. One wag said of Toscanini that he played all the notes and missed all of the music. While that might be too harsh for Toscanini it came to mind while listening to this.

Copyright © 2014, Robert Stumpf

Trumpet