London Philharmonic Orchestra

London Philharmonic Orchestra 75th Anniversary, Vol. 3: 1983-2007

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Though there are good points to all three sets, probably the best of the three volumes of the London Philharmonic's 75th Anniversary edition is the third. For one thing, the choice of repertoire is stronger: instead of the first volume's excerpts and shorter works or the second volume's predominantly English fare, the third volume features mostly concert-length international works. In the second place, there is a more consistent level of inspiration to the performances themselves. And in the third place, the sound is far better than either of the earlier volumes. Where the first volume sounds understandably antique and the second volume sounds superb for its time, the third volume sounds amazingly realistic and vivid.

Klaus Tennstedt's grandly ecstatic Beethoven's Ninth Symphony from October 1992 with soprano Lucia Popp, mezzo-soprano Ann Murray, tenor Anthony Rolfe Johnson, and bass René Pape is a fitting capstone to the late conductor's career. Kurt Masur's urgently driven Shostakovich's First and Fifth symphonies from late January and early February 2004 is proof the aging conductor was still capable of viscerally exciting music-making. Vladimir Jurowski's grimly expressive Shostakovich's Fourteenth from February 2006 with soprano Tatiana Monogarova and baritone Sergei Leiferkus is not only one of the finest things the young conductor had yet done, it is one of the most compelling performances of the composer's morbid masterpieces ever recorded. Even Franz Welser-Möst's performances of Strauss' closing scene from Capriccio with Felicity Lott from February 1992, Mozart's D minor Mass from April 1989 and C minor Mass from February 1987, Schubert Stabat Mater in G minor from October 1992, and Bruckner's Te Deum from October 1995 are characteristic reminders of the quality of the Austrian conductors music-making before he became music director of the Cleveland Orchestra. In sum, if you are only going to get one volume of LPO's 75th anniversary edition, this is the one.

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