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Reviews: Poulenc: Gloria, Honegger: Symphony No. 3 - Jansons

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Reviews: 2

Review by Edvin September 27, 2006 (2 of 2 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
It is a pity Karajan never recorded more Honegger because his recording of the third is probably never going to be equalled or surpassed. That performance is in a class of its own.
Jansons has recorded it before and the performances are quite similar. The first movement is the best with a lot of menace and power. The piano is a bit prominent - not as prominent as the triangle in the Karajan which sounds like an anvil. The problem starts with the lovely second movement and Jansons is three minutes shorter than Karajan. Maybe I am nitpicking but there is no arpeggio sign before the piano chord at 1.56. Maybe a misprint in my Salabert score, but I don´t think so. The second time around, at 7.45, the arpeggio is correct. In the middle section Jansons adopts a faster tempo and loses some of the drama because of it. The bass drum at the climax is very weak.

When we reach the solo flute hovering above strings in the Karajan I always get the feling of having experienced something great and very emotional. Jansons doesn´t achieve that, lovely though it is. The finale is hastily despatched and Jansons makes some interpretative choices that I cannot find in the score. The staccato in the brass at 5.30 is not in the score and neither is the piano arpeggio on the last chord. This powerful music is a bit light here which robs the luminous ending of its uplifting quality. I know of no symphony that ends so lovely as this, well... the Vaughan Williams 5th and the similarities don´t end there.

Of course there are lot of positive things in this performance. The orchestra is excellent and the sweep of the first movement is something I will return to. The sound is not as good as some other RCO Live. A bit subdued and blurry by Polyhymnia standards. It was recorded in 2004.

The Poulenc Gloria is a strange bedfellow. The peformance is good but shows no special insights into the poulencian idiom. A lot of high spirits and play with words, the accents are often hilarious. For me the highlights are the soprano solos Domine Deus and Agnus Dei. Luba Orgonasova is a good singer but her voice is not what I want here. I much prefer a Norma Burrows-like soprano. Orgonasova is slightly to big a voice for this music, but she sings beautifully. Recorded in 2005.

The sound here is, as in the symphony, not really top notch and unfortunately I must express some disappointment wih this SACD. I had high hopes. There is applause after both pieces and I hate it.

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Review by raffells May 21, 2008 (3 of 3 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Whilst I cannot disagree with Edwins comments I too looked forward to this disc of strange bedfellows.
The recording quality is good and in my opinion slightly better for the symphony which was the earlier of the two recordings.There is plenty of weight and depth in the stereo version.
To me the Gloria is a high spirited almost jovial pleasant work and the other versions I have all seem to have a tiny bit more energy and bite,especially the very opening.After that it seems to get better in each of the 6 movements.
The symphony may not be up to Karajans version but the recording to me is better and not a lot short .Speaking of which this disc at 51 minutes seems to be woefully low in recording time.Especially as it is so enjoyable. In theory they could have put anything except another Bolero on as a filler.
Otherwise this is an interesting and worthwhile addition to the sacd catelogue. Whilst we can only look forward to unusual couplings I am not too bothered by the applause. It does have an almost sufficient gap after the work before it appears.

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