Originally published on May 5
Beautifully recorded (November 2020, Kulturpalast) and just as beautifully played by the Dresden Philharmonic (not to be confused with the Staatskapelle) Marek Janowski (born 1939 and a fairly recent appointee to the Philharmonie) leads wonderfully lyrical and lively accounts of these Symphonies. The ‘Unfinished’ is persuasively quicker than usual in the first movement, yet so-well shaped, as well as intense and dramatic, as to be wholly convincing, and with woodwind details sometimes overlooked making their mark, followed by an Andante that is exactly that, progressing forward yet with poignancy, wonderment and emotional outpourings enshrined within. The ‘Great’ is equally impressive, also given with a sense of occasion, and I assume a different principal oboist, for he or she is outstanding throughout in timbre and musicianship. Janowski is sure-footed in his handling of each movement, moving along without rush, alive to expressive leeway as well as clarity of ‘small print’ and rhythm, and convincingly inevitable in terms of climaxes. The Scherzo is especially fleet (quiet timpani notes are a joy to hear so clearly, hard sticks) yet it also dances, with a Trio that relaxes somewhat to really sing from the heart, beguiling woodwinds, and the Finale is fiery (the second subject purrs), life-affirming and, in the coda, powerfully emphatic. All repeats are observed, save for the one in the final movement of the ‘Great’, always a good decision, to complete these masterly, special-indeed performances. Pentatone PTC 5187 065 [SACD] is released on May 26.