BRUCKNER SIBELIUS NIELSEN Dudamel

Share

ANTON BRUCKNER
Symponie No. 9

JEAN SIBELIUS
Symponie No. 2

CARL NIELSEN
Symponie No. 5
No. 4 »Das Unauslöschliche
The Inextinguishable«
Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra
Gustavo Dudamel
Int. Release 22 Aug. 2011
3 CDs / Download
0289 477 9449 3 3 CDs DDD GX3
Dudamel Sets Bruckner, Nielsen, and Sibelius Afire on a Specially-priced 3-CD Set, His First with the GSO


Tracklisting

CD 1: Bruckner: Symphony No.9

Anton Bruckner (1824 - 1896)
Symphony No.9 In D Minor

Edition: Leopold Nowak

Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Gustavo Dudamel

Gesamtspielzeit: 1:05:15

CD 2: Sibelius: Symphony No.2

Jean Sibelius (1865 - 1957)
Symphony No.2 in D Major, Op.43

Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Gustavo Dudamel

Gesamtspielzeit: 44:44

CD 3: Nielsen: Symphonies Nos.5&4

Carl Nielsen (1865 - 1931)
Symphony No.5, Op.50

Symphony No.4, Op.29 - "The Inextinguishable"

Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Gustavo Dudamel

Gesamtspielzeit: 1:09:17

Gustavo Dudamel is famous for his work atop the Los Angeles Philharmonic, but the "Dude" is also doing great things in Sweden, where he's principal conductor of the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra. Here in his first release with that ensemble he demonstrates why he's one of today's most celebrated conductors, leading performances of heart-on-sleeve emotion and contrasts sharp enough to give you whiplash. The repertoire is right up Gothenburg's alley, too.

The Bruckner Ninth alone gives evidence of Dudamel's potential . . . There's an air of discovery to the performance; everything feels fresh, rethought. And the orchestra is sumptuously dark and rich, with plenty of air around each instrument . . . perky articulation, crisp winds, bracing string pizziccati . . .

Dudamel brings out the tension in much of the music, as well as its grandeur and colour. In this excellent set of live recordings, there is never a sense of going through the motions, but rather of a considered, intelligent exploration, digging out unexpected sound balances. The Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra excels throughout . . . this is thoughtful, insightful conducting.

Dudamel takes on three symphonic heavyweights with fresh and enjoyable results, particularly in Nielsen Four and Sibelius Two.

Dirigieren kann Dudamel alles . . . Sein energischer, um nicht zu sagen energetischer Stil, die Bündelung von Rhythmus und Kantabile zu einer intensiven Grundspannung passen gut in sein Repertoire, das sich von der Spätromantik bis zur klassischen Moderne erstreckt. So verwundert es nicht, wenn die beiden Sinfonien von Carl Nielsen den stärksten Eindruck hinterlassen, scheint die vitale Gestik und quirlige Motorik des Dänen -- Schlagzeugsalven inklusive -- für Dudamels Ansatz doch wie geschaffen . . . [Bruckner: Symphony no. 9]: Die stampfende Monstrosität . . . gestalten die Göteborger ansteckend tänzerisch und verblüffend schwerelos.

. . . es ist Musik, die dem 31-jährigen Venezolaner, der das interpretatorische Feuer ebenso liebt wie den tönenden Effekt, liegen muss. Der satte Klang, das furiose Draufgängertum sind fast ungebremst da . . . aber sie erschlagen die zurückhaltenderen lyrischen Passagen nicht. Gerade die gelegentlich widerborstigen Nielsen-Sinfonien mit ihren dräuenden Schlagzeug-Soli . . . animieren den Jung-Maestro zu heftiger, aber zwingender Exaltation.

[Sibelius]: . . . [le jeune maestro vénézuélien] en donne une superbe lecture marquée par un soin très approfondi des couleurs orchestrales ¿ cuivres abrupts dans le premier mouvement, cordes sombres dans les suivants . . . l'impact de cette interprétation est incontestable et l'osmose entre le chef, l'¿uvre et l'orchestre [évidente] . . . [Nielsen]: La violence quasiment expressionniste des deux plus belles symphonies du maître danois est magnifiée par une lecture fulgurante. Dès l'entame de l'"Inextinguible", tranchante comme une lame, on est saisi par la tension sans relâche, la motricité implacable et le sens de la narration qui emportent les interprètes. L'énergie de Dudamel, son intelligence du rythme se déploient magnifiquement sans aucune baisse de tension, et les interventions des deux timbaliers dans le finale s'insèrent avec une logique absolue sans paraître surajoutée. Les mêmes qualités nous valent une 5e incendiaire avec une caisse claire littéralement possédée dans le premier mouvement qui alterne échos de guerre . . . et lyrisme brucknérien tandis que le second prolonge radieusement l'énergie de l'"Inextinguible" et assure la victoire de l'esprit au terme du conflit.

. . . un combat jamais neutre, stimulant si le chef en exprime les risques et les vertiges possibles. Pari réussi pour Dudamel . . . [Gustavo Dudamel à la tête du Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra]: une phalange qui s'est imposée sur la scène internationale pour ses lectures de Sibelius et surtout Nielsen . . . et séduit aussitôt les instrumentistes du Symphonique de Göteborg, d'un baptême du feu, l'immersion nouvelle dans un répertoire dont il découvre pas à pas la syntaxe et les enjeux . . . la direction a gagné une souplesse et une compréhension comme régénérées, manifestement au service de l'écriture sanguine d'un Sibelius soucieux de l'équilibre et de l'activité de la forme . . . [Nielsen]: La flamme juvénile de Dudamel s'accorde idéalement au jaillissement permanent semé d'éclairs de l'Inextinguible: une foyer ardent de désir sans limites, un formidable élan de vie. L'exaltation dramatique atteinte par musiciens et maestro suit sans faiblir la transe écrite par le compositeur: comme torchon brûlant, le geste traverse chacun des 4 mouvements enchaînés, dévoilant par un jeu rythmique transcendant la permanence de la volonté de vivre, malgré tous les contextes . . . Même déchaînement magnifiquement construit pour une 5ème superbe d'élan et de feu. De toute évidence, Dudamel sait pousser chaque instrumentiste jusqu'aux extrémités de leurs ressources physiques et artistiques. Il souligne comme des accents fracassants, la portée moderne de l'écriture d'un Nielsen qui s'autorise plusieurs digressions au plan symphonique traditionnel: ici, les dynamiques et contrastes de rythmes supplante la continuité du développement mélodique. En particulier dans le final, l'un des plus complexes jamais écrits par Nielsen . . .


Commitment, Energy and Joy

Gustavo Dudamel met the Gothenburg Symphony by pure chance; he replaced an indisposed Neeme Järvi for concerts in Birmingham and at the London Proms in August 2005. * Sibelius was of course on the bill, a composer closely associated with the orchestra ever since he conducted it over a 100 years ago. It was Dudamel’s first encounter with Scandinavian music and he developed a taste for it that led to further discoveries, including the symphonies of Carl Nielsen, when he started his tenure as the orchestra’s Music Director in 2007. During their years together, Dudamel and the Gothenburg Sym­phony have championed the two Nordic masters not only in Gothenburg but also in Stockholm, Bonn, Hamburg, Brussels, Amsterdam, Valencia, the Canary Islands and Vienna. The combination of Latin passion and a profound understanding of tradition have breathed new life into this wonderful music. The international audience in Bonn, Germany, was overwhelmed after a performance of Nielsen’s Fourth Symphony at the Beethoven Fest: “Conducting very precisely and without a score, Gustavo Dudamel charged the Adagio with enormous tension, and the following finale with its timpani duel was performed with great drive” (General-Anzeiger Bonn). Scandinavian recognition of the highest order was bestowed on Gustavo Dudamel and the orchestra by the respected critic Carl-Gunnar Åhlén after a Stockholm performance of Nielsen’s Fifth Symphony: “Neither on record nor in concert have I experienced his Fifth Symphony so boundlessly expressive, so clearly detailed, so dreaming in its introduction and so life-affirming in its final course of events” (Svenska Dagbladet).

It’s interesting to note that the symphonies in this compilation were actually created within a 30-year span. Bruckner’s last masterpiece, his Ninth Symphony, that fascinating block-built titanic culminant of his total production, was left unfinished at his death in 1896, while Carl Nielsen’s controversial and radical Fifth Symphony received its premiere performance in 1922. All works explore, in different ways, the seemingly endless timbral possibilities of the late 19th-century symphony orchestra, from Bruckner’s massive tutti chords and Sibelius’s mysterious wind and string passages to Nielsen’s innovative and sometimes almost manic use of percussion (timpani and snare drum) underlining his bold visions.

Sibelius and Nielsen may be obvious composers in the Gothenburg Symphony’s repertoire, but it is also an orchestra with a solid Bruckner tradition. Gustavo Dudamel has talked about the sonorous qualities of this orchestra’s way with the Austrian master, as have other Bruckner luminaries who have worked with the orchestra. Among them, Bruckner’s pupil Franz Schalk and late 20th-century Bruck­nerians like Rudolf Kempe, Heinz Wallberg and, above all, Otmar Suitner, who conducted fourteen Bruckner concerts with the Gothenburg Symphony. Dudamel has performed both the Seventh and Ninth symphonies with the orchestra, and after a performance of the latter he talked appreciatively about the Gothenburg Symphony’s dark, dramatic sound mirroring Bruckner’s intentions. The deeply religious composer worked on the symphony’s finale to the very end, but he was a slow worker. When finishing the Adagio, he wrote: “I have fulfilled my mission on earth, I’ve done it to the best of my ability, and I only wish one thing: that I would have been allowed to finish my ninth symphony! Three movements are almost finished, the Adagio is almost fully composed, only the finale remains to be concluded. May death not take this pen from my hand before that.” But it did. Bruckner died on 11 October, going over the sketches of the finale that very day. Several attempts have been made to finish the movement, and interesting as they may be, we will never know what Bruckner really had in mind. It is a three-movement torso – and a magnificent one at that – to be appreciated in all its unfinished glory.

The Gothenburg Symphony first played the Second Symphony by Sibelius in 1907. The work had absolutely mesmerized the orchestra’s principal conductor at the time, the composer and pianist Wilhelm Stenhammar, who led the orchestra from 1907 to 1922. He wrote to Sibelius about the “won­ders you have fetched from unconscious and inexpressible depths”, and the composer repaid the compliment by conducting the Second Symphony on all three occasions when he visited Gothenburg in 1911, 1915 and 1925.

When Sibelius conducted the symphony on his second visit in 1915, disaster was close at hand. He had rehearsed the orchestra successfully in the morning and afternoon of 24 March, and was in an excellent mood. The concert was set at 8 pm. As the hour approached Sibelius was nowhere to be found. A desperate search was organized and the composer was found at one of the city’s choice restaurants, devouring oysters and wine. He was brought back in time for the concert. His wife Aino sat in the audience, fearing the worst, and a few seconds after the first upbeat Sibelius tapped the music stand with his baton signalling a restart, somehow believing he was still in rehearsal. The music moved on, however, and the concert turned out to be a formidable success with standing ovations and resounding hurrahs. Yet, Sibelius was aware of the mishap, and when he left the concert hall he suddenly took out a whisky bottle from his inside pocket and threw it down the stairs where it shattered into a thousand splinters.

The Second Symphony has since become something of a signature piece for the Gothenburg Symphony. The orchestra has performed it 136 times to date, the last five under Gustavo Dudamel.

Carl Nielsen had a long and intimate association with the Gothenburg Symphony. He was invited to conduct his own works by Stenhammar and introduced the Fourth Symphony, “The Inextinguishable”, to the Gothenburg audiences on 5 April 1918, two years after its first performance. This vital and powerful music, a hymn to life – “music is life”, stated Nielsen in a comment on the symphony –, scared and seduced the listeners in equal measure, but they were impressed by the grand design and some beautiful episodes. Stenhammar and Nielsen became close friends. They discussed aesthetics and musical matters, and shared experiences as composers and conductors. When Stenhammar needed time to compose in 1918, he called on Nielsen to stand in as deputy conductor of the Gothenburg Symphony. Nielsen held this position in the autumn of 1918, and conducted the orchestra for several weeks annually until 1922. Altogether, Nielsen conducted 48 concerts with the Gothenburg Symphony from 1914 to 1930. On 21 October 1919 he wrote to his wife: “Now I’ve had a rehearsal with the orchestra and it is truly artistically rewarding to play with these people, because they are sensitive to my smallest intention and show me such great respect that I’m almost embarrassed.” He conducted his controversial Fifth Symphony on 8 March 1922, and the reviewer was somewhat baffled: “Surprises are to be expected from Carl Nielsen, but his latest symphony, the Fifth, almost presents too many . . . but the purely lyrical passages were so beautiful that one has to express great admiration for the composer” (Göteborgs Handels- och Sjöfartstidning).
These live recordings capture the commitment, energy and joy of the original concerts with Gustavo Dudamel and the Gothenburg Symphony, but they also transcend to something else, which Dudamel has noted: “A recording is like a picture, you know, for memory.”

Stefan Nävermyr
7/2011

*History has a tendency to repeat itself. Neeme Järvi first conducted the Gothenburg Symphony in 1980, when he replaced the scheduled conductor, Mariss Jansons, for concerts in Dublin, Aldeburgh and London. The Latvian Mariss Jansons was denied a visa for the tour by the Soviet authorities because his father, the conductor Alfred Jansons, was working abroad at the same time. Soviet authorities would not allow two members of the same family visas because of the risk of defection. As it turned out, Neeme Järvi became Principal Conductor of the Gothenburg Symphony 1982–2004, a very important and rewarding relationship which resulted in many praised recordings for Deutsche Grammophon. All those recordings, and this one, were produced by Lennart Dehn.



Gustavo Dudamel

“When Dudamel is up on the podium, he truly is ‘inside’ the music. It courses in his veins, mixing with his blood.”Los Angeles Times, January 2010

Born on 26 January 1981 in Barquisimeto, Venezuela, Gustavo Dudamel was ten when he took up the violin, and soon was also studying composition. In 1996, he began his conducting studies with Rodolfo Saglimbeni and during the same year was named music director of the Amadeus Chamber Orchestra. In 1999, he continued his conducting studies with José Antonio Abreu and was appointed music direc­tor of the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela (SBYOV), an ensemble founded by Abreu that is widely recognized for its role in transforming the lives of tens of thousands of impoverished youths. Dudamel is also in great demand as a guest conductor and has worked with the world’s most renowned orchestras and musicians. He is currently music director of the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra and of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Simón Bolívar orchestras.

Dudamel’s activities in 2011 include concerts with the LA Philharmonic at Disney Hall and on their first European tour; with the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra at home and on tour in Sweden; with the (renamed) Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela on a summer tour of South America followed by a European tour including performances at the Salzburg Festival and in Istanbul; with the Vienna Philharmonic; and with the Berliner Philharmoniker at the Salzburg Easter Festival. In winter 2011 the conductor inaugurated live broadcasts with the LA Philharmonic in over 450 movie theatres across the US and Canada. The 2011 Dudamel releases include the 2010 Berliner Philharmoniker New Year’s Eve Concert with Elīna Garanča on DVD; audio release of “Tchaikovsky and Shakespeare” with the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra; and two downloads on DG Concerts with the LA Philharmonic: Adams’ Slonimsky’s Earbox plus Bernstein’s “Jeremiah” Symphony and a Brahms programme.


Gothenburg Symphony
The National Orchestra of Sweden

The Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, called “one of the world’s most formidable orchestras” by the Guardian, has toured the USA, Europe, Japan and the Far East and performed at major music centres and festivals throughout the world. Gustavo Dudamel has been music director of the orchestra since 2007 (succeeding Mario Venzago), and when his tenure ends in 2012 he will continue to work with the Gothenburg Symphony as honorary conductor. Dudamel and the orchestra have performed in France, Germany, Austria, Luxembourg, Spain and the UK, including acclaimed appearances at the BBC Proms and the Musikverein: “The Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra had the audience in the palm of its hand last night. The hall erupted” (The Telegraph). “Gustavo Dudamel and his Swedish orchestra were blazing in the Musikverein” (Wiener Zeitung). Christian Zacharias is the orchestra’s principal guest conductor.

The Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1905. Wilhelm Stenhammar, the great Swedish composer and conductor of the early 20th century, contributed strongly to the Nordic profile of the orchestra. He invited his colleagues Carl Nielsen and Jean Sibelius to conduct their own works. Among the Orchestra’s subsequent principal conductors are Tor Mann, Issay Dobrowen, Dean Dixon, Sergiu Comissiona, Sixten Ehrling and Charles Dutoit. When Neeme Järvi took over in the 1982, the orchestra reached a new level of performance and quickly became an international musical force to be reckoned with. In recognition of the orchestra’s role as an ambassador of Swedish music, as well as its high artistic level, the GSO was appointed The National Orchestra of Sweden in 1997. The orchestra has performed with legendary conductors such as Wilhelm Furtwängler, Pierre Monteux and Herbert von Karajan. Several of today’s most-in-demand conductors have worked with the Gothenburg Symphony: Sir Simon Rattle, Esa-Pekka Salonen and Herbert Blomstedt, to name but a few.
Among the orchestra’s many recordings on Deutsche Grammophon, several of them award-winning, are the complete symphonies of Sibelius, Nielsen, Stenhammar, Berwald, Borodin and Rimsky-Korsakov, operas and symphonies by Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, Prokofiev and Shostakovich, and the complete orchestral music of Edvard Grieg.

Principal Conductors of the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra
1905–1907      Heinrich Hammer
1907–1922      Wilhelm Stenhammar
1922–1925      Ture Rangström
1925–1939      Tor Mann
1937–1970      Sixten Eckerberg
                      (Principal Conductor of the Gothenburg Radio Orchestra,
                      i.e. Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra)
1941–1953      Issay Dobrowen
1953–1960      Dean Dixon
1960–1967      Sten Frykberg
1967–1972      Sergiu Comissiona
1974–1975      Sixten Ehrling
1976–1979      Charles Dutoit
1982–2004      Neeme Järvi
2004–2007      Mario Venzago
2007               Gustavo Dudamel
7/2011