Symphony No.6 in F, Op.68 (Pastoral)
Symphony No.41 in C, K551 (Jupiter)
London Philharmonic Orchestra
Sir Adrian Boult
Recorded in Studio No.1, Abbey Road, London – ‘Pastoral’ on 17 April and 10 & 15 May 1977; ‘Jupiter’ on 23 September and 16 October 1974
Reviewed by: Andrew Achenbach
Reviewed: September 2007
CD No: MEDICI MASTERS
Duration: 81 minutes
I suspect quite a few collectors will share my astonishment that neither of these distinguished performances from Sir Adrian Boult’s so-called ‘Indian summer’ in the recording studio have previously made it onto silver disc.
Set down for EMI at Abbey Road over three sessions in the spring of 1977 and released on an HMV ASD LP the following year, Boult’s ‘Pastoral’ strikes me as an unmitigated triumph – purest joy from start to finish, in fact. Not only does the 88-year-old maestro judge tempos to flowing perfection, his intensely warm-hearted, keenly proportioned and sublimely inevitable conception really does emerge like some “force of nature” (to borrow a phrase from Colin Anderson’s personable and perceptive booklet essay).
As on Sir Adrian’s similarly lithe June 1957 account for Vanguard (also with the LPO), both the first movement and finale in particular are paced to purposeful perfection, the latter’s refulgent apex ‘placed’ with unerring majesty to cap a ‘Pastoral’ that surely ranks with the very greatest. Orchestral balance and blend, too, are beyond reproach and, indeed, the whole performance is a model of unforced, articulate and (above all) wonderfully wise music-making.
The ‘Jupiter’ was taped in September and October 1974 and brings an unashamedly big-scale reading with all repeats observed. Boult’s view is civilised, respectful and typically self-effacing, his antiphonal violins a boon above all in the meaty dialogue of the towering finale (where the performance – hitherto a little too content to remain in the comfort zone – at last succeeds in throwing off the shackles of the studio).
Conducting of painstaking integrity, none the less, and, as in the Beethoven, the LPO responds with total dedication for its venerable former chief. I need only add that Paul Baily’s mercifully tweak-free re-mastering preserves the warmth, depth and detail of the original Bishop/Parker productions.
Absolutely not to be missed – and hats off to Medici Arts for its perspicacity in restoring two such nourishing documents to the catalogue.