Originally published on June 20
Maurice Abravanel (1903-93) was music director in Utah for thirty-two years from 1946. His sizeable discography embraces much Tchaikovsky, all the Symphonies including Manfred, sundry orchestral pieces, and a complete Swan Lake. Now that Naxos has the rights to the Vox catalogue, with presentation in its own image, and with top-end remastering, there should be much to explore with gratification. I’d certainly like to hear more of Abravanel’s Tchaikovsky (Symphony 5/1812 Overture are available soon) for this current coupling makes for good listening – not the greatest performance of either work if with something individual to say and an ability to hold the listener’s attention without recourse to doing something novel for the sake of it. From 1974, the Shakespeare fantasia is atmospheric and exciting, while the Symphony, arresting from the off with a Fate-filled brass summons, is always musically considered – of direction, adrenalin-rushes, shapely repose and fulfilment, played with commitment, intensity and (trumpets) an edge, if too much sometimes – nothing saggy or bland – captured in well-fashioned/scrupulously remastered sound. Vox Audiophile Edition VOX-NX-3022CD is released on June 23.