Symphony No.9 in E minor, Op.95 (From the New World)
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Live recording 6 June 2003, Concertgebouw, Amsterdam
Reviewed by: Colin Anderson
Reviewed: June 2005
CD No: RCO 04002
Duration: 41 minutes
Recorded live, this popular classic is a well-chosen work with which to launch the recorded partnership of Mariss Jansons and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra since the announcement of his appointment to this great Dutch orchestra – a work expressing new adventures albeit tinged with homesickness. There’s nothing remotely doubtful, though, about the RCO’s response to its new man – waiting to take up the Chief Conductor’s position at the time of this concert – the musicians responding very healthily to Jansons’s decisive leadership, something immediately apparent in the Adagio introduction that is pensive, dramatic and incisive. And it is the corporate commitment that stands out the most here, even if some fortissimos are a little too intensely projected.
Recorded with space, focus and fulsome power, albeit sometimes sounding too remote, this cracking account can occasionally seem too conscious in its detailing and emotional response, yet there’s no doubting the character of the playing. Some of Jansons’s changes of tempos are more manipulated than organic, though, although the fire and beauty of the playing brings its own distinction to a reading that crackles with the right sort of tension. It’s a more vibrant and variegated account than Jansons’s earlier one for EMI with the Oslo Philharmonic, although some of the conductor’s personalisation comes off slightly better there, maybe because of studio conditions rather than the more spontaneous circumstances of a concert.
One thing is certain, this live and lively performance, electric in places, has much that is vividly communicate. Although one can quibble here and there, it is also a fine demonstration of what is already in place between this orchestra and conductor, and which promises so much for the future.