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Pierre Monteux conducts:
Symphony No. 3

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 (Schumann).
BBC BBCL 4058-2 [74:25]
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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 studio).

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.

Ian Lace

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