Hindemith & Wagner (DG Concerts)
Bryn Terfel, Los Angeles Philharmonic & Esa-Pekka Salonen
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Warm, Richly Detailed, Masterful.
Salonen leading the Los Angeles Philharmonic in a program of music he obviously loves. Salonen's own compositions are iridescent with a kaleidoscope of colorful detail. Here he lavishes great care to present the music in all of *its colorfulness*, and he succeeds. The recorded sound is superb and perfectly attuned to Salonen's aims. The Philharmonic plays masterfully.
Now, the qualifiers. In general hese are not fiery hot performances of the purely orchestral works, the voltage is dialed back to allow the details to emerge unhurried and unhindered. They are not unexciting, but many listeners will have favorite versions of these works the present album doesn't challenge. I think Blomstedt's recording of the Hindemith Symphonic Metamorphosis is fantastic. Even better, Jean Martinon's with the Chicago Symphony. Wagnerians will have their preferred versions of the Die Meistersinger and Ring excerpts (my favorite Ring excerpts recording is Szell's with the Cleveland Symphony). The present recordings would make a fine alternate purchase, however, because of the wonderful detailing and rich orchestral tapestry and these performances are damned exciting enough to satisfy most anyone.
Bryn Terfel's voice is a light, but his musicianship and interpretation make up for any shortcoming. Salonen cannily accompanies Terfel to allow Terfel's voice to stand out effortlessly. The Magic Fire Music is the most impressive and satisfying of the selections on this fine album. I do wish however, there were additional examples of Terfel and Salonen. That is the one weakness that stands out all the more due to that lack.
A word about DG's recording, it is hands down the best they have yet produced. Clarity, transparency, deep bass (!) and smooth extended treble without harshness or excessive brightness. Exactly like the sound Mercury Records produced with the Eastman Wind Ensemble in the 1950s.
I loved listening to the entire album and will listen to it often in the near future. It is a proud addition to my prime must-have list of great recordings, for the sum of all its parts.
Born: November 9, 1965 in England
Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s