Time for the ed to make a judgement! From October’s reviews of recordings, it’s good news indeed that Chandos is looking at the complete orchestral music of Richard Rodney Bennett, a timely reappraisal of one of the most versatile composers and musicians, as Robert Matthew-Walker details in his review. There’s also Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande from the LSO and Simon Rattle, an ambitious choice for its Live label, copiously annotated and including a Blu-ray option (presenting the whole opera uninterrupted) – and surely indicative of the aspiration and achievement that will distinguish the LSO's Rattle years.
However, in pole position, and with a Rattle connection given he was next in line, it’s Warner Classics’ Louis Frémaux CBSO collection. The 1970s were a renaissance time for the Birmingham Orchestra and was immortalised by numerous LPs for EMI that are now handsomely re-mastered to preserve some outstanding music-making. What if ... the CBSO and Frémaux hadn’t parted company acrimoniously? Certainly a Britten War Requiem for EMI (which Rattle inherited) and a concert Beethoven Symphony Cycle ... and where might Simon have landed instead?
The Classical Source
1 November 2017
***As a postscript, just to clarify how Classical Source uses stars for its reviews. Since April 2016 a star-rating is mandatory for anything generally available (a recording, a book...) and when there is a run of performances (an opera, a ballet...). Stars are not required for a concert unless a reviewer is of the opinion that something is exceptional (five stars) or quite the opposite (one); either is rare ... ultimately it is the words that matter.***