Pierre Monteux conducts:
Symphony No. 4
Overture: L'Italiana in Algeri
Pierre Monteux conducts the
BBC Symphony Orchestra
Recorded in Manchester Town Hall, 21st November 1962 (Rossini
and Brahms) and in the Royal Festival Hall on 18th October 1961
BBC BBCL 4058-2
Rossini's 'Italian Girl in Algiers' cuts a dash in this spirited performance
which introduces an exciting concert by a maestro who commanded his students
to know every melodic strand in an orchestral texture: "Your score must be
in your head, not your head in your score", he chided.
These two symphonies, so central to the repertoire, benefit from free spontaneous
readings. Only when a maestro knows such scores so completely, can he take
small but surely permissible liberties in phrasing, dynamics and tempi that
bring such performances to life. (I can just imagine a producer's hand hovering
over his blue pencil if Monteux had taken these performances into a recording
Monteux's Brahms is both heroic and tender. I am reminded that Elgar was
extremely fond of this Third Symphony and conducted it on many occasions.
Elgar was probably fascinated by Brahms' melodic invention and his use of
sequential repetition - a favourite device of the British composer. Oh, (I
air a prejudice here) if only Brahms had Elgar's talent for vividly coloured
orchestration! The Schumann symphony, too, has plenty of vigour and attack
- a really thrilling performance with lots of energy and drive.
A compelling and thrilling concert experience.