Robin Ticciati cements his reputation as an outstanding Berliozian with his latest recording, ‘Berlioz: Les nuits d’été’, which includes excerpts from Roméo & Juliette and La Mort de Cléopâtre. A pupil of Sir Simon Rattle and the great Berliozian Sir Colin Davis, Robin’s reputation as one of this generation's best conductors was assured when he was announced as the next music director of Glyndebourne, taking over from Vladimir Jurowski in 2014.
Recognised internationally as a conductor of the highest calibre, Stéphane Denève took up the post of Music Director of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra in 2005, and has since attracted attention from audiences and critics alike. This May, the conductor bids a fond farewell to Scotland and the RSNO with a series of ‘Au Revoir’ concerts, and of course, this disc of orchestral works by Debussy.
Listening to the music on this two-disc set, you may wonder why the chamber works of Swedish Romantic composer Franz Berwald are not more frequently recorded. It can't be because of his themes, which are strong, sweet, and distinctive; or because of his harmonies, which are powerful, rich, and cogent; or because of his forms, which are innovative, inventive, and indestructible. The only possible reason for this music's neglect is that there's only so much room in the world for great music, and unfortunately, Berwald, Schubert, Schumann, Mendelssohn, Brahms, and Dvorák have apparently already occupied all the space allocated to chamber music of the Romantic period. Still, anyone listening to the music on this two-disc set will have to wonder if there's not enough room for Berwald, too. Scottish pianist Susan Tomes and the English Gaudier Ensemble are wonderfully persuasive advocates for Berwald, performing his music with the same dedication and enthusiasm that other performers bring to the music of his more popular contemporaries.
In the decades since its founding, the Scottish National Orchestra has earned a reputation as a distinguished ensemble with an extensive concert schedule, wide-ranging repertoire, and a significant representation on recordings. The SNO is the direct descendant of the Scottish Orchestra, founded in Glasgow in 1890; with the establishment of the Scottish National Orchestra Society in 1950 with monies from Glasgow, Aberdeen, Edinburgh, and Dundee, the SNO became a permanent ensemble. Throughout its first 40 years, the Scottish Orchestra had no permanent principal conductor, instead relying on a series of eminent guest conductors.
Most of the familiar orchestral versions of Richard Wagner’s operatic music were arranged either by him or his followers in the 19th century, so the Overture & Venusberg Music from Tannhäuser & the Prelude to Act III from Lohengrin have long been performed in these special concert formats. But the main work of this SACD is the 1993 suite arranged by Henk de Vlieger, Parsifal, an Orchestral Quest, which is a fresh adaptation of the key moments from Wagner’s final music drama. The work was commissioned by the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, after de Vlieger, the ensemble’s percussionist, had successfully arranged music from Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen into a similar orchestral vehicle for them. Parsifal, an Orchestral Quest was premiered on RCA in 1997 by Edo de Waart, & Neeme Järvi leads the 2nd recorded performance on this 2010 release on Chandos.
“For those who prefer modern concert pitch and instruments fitted with all today's mod cons, this recording offers graceful, unhurried performances which convey an atmosphere of chamber music and are refreshingly light footed.” BBC Music Magazine, Proms 2007