Perhaps in search of further profits from the lode provided by its popular New Year's events, the Vienna Philharmonic established its Sommernachtskonzert or Summer Night Concert series in 2004. The series attracted six-digit crowds, sponsorship from Rolex, and U.S. broadcasts on the Public Broadcasting Service. The Philharmonic has aimed for something in between the party atmosphere of the New Year's concerts and the sobriety of a regular concert event, with star conductors trotted out for not-too-strenuous fun. Here is Zubin Mehta, leading an almost all-Scandinavian program, with much-honored Austrian pianist Rudolf Buchbinder in the headline work: the Grieg Piano Concert in A minor, Op. 16. Some wouldn't pick him as a likely candidate for Grieg (his specialties run toward Beethoven and Mozart), and the concerto is straightforward, but no more. But there is a nice tone poem, Frühlingsrauchen, Op. 32/3, by Norwegian composer Christian Sinding, whose Wagnerian orchestral music has been increasing in performance frequency since arguments surfaced that he was senile and unaware of what he was doing when his name was added to the rolls of Norway's fascist party early in World War II. Mehta and the Philharmonic are lively in the Peer Gynt Suite No. 1, Op. 46, of Grieg, and the finale, Sibelius' evergreen Finlandia, Op. 26, gives an idea of why crowds turn out for this thing. Even the semi-popular encore, a Galop by Lumbye, is Scandinavian. An enjoyable entry in the series, with reasonable sound for something recorded en plein air. Recorded in May 2015 (that's summer in mild Vienna), this album was on sale by early August.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Concerto for Piano and Orchestra in A Minor Op. 16|
|Peer Gynt Suite No. 1 Op. 46|