Strauss, Eine Alpensinfonie, op. 64, Orchestre de l'opéra national de Paris, P. Jordan
(released on May 25, 2010)
Naïve V 5233 | 52'35"
[The work] was not chosen randomly for the program of my first concert at the head of the Orchestre de l'opéra national de Paris: this musical setting of a day spent on high clearly marks the beginning of a voyage. And that was how I felt as we prepared for this concert: a concert of firsts. This grandiose work sums up all of western orchestral art: we could have chosen it as a culmination, but we preferred to make it a beginning, and I am pleased by the audacity and enthusiasm shared by the orchestra.Jordan's specialty as a conductor, not surprisingly, has been opera, like the highly praised performances of Busoni's Doktor Faust he led in Zurich a couple years ago. We managed to miss his debut with the National Symphony Orchestra in January 2009, but Anne Midgette gave him a mixed review in the Washington Post. Surely, this recording of just the Strauss work, made in live performance at Jordan's opening concert at the Bastille (complete with creaks and other sounds, like the oboe soloist gasping for breath), is not going to supplant the best of the many recordings available (Thielemann with the Vienna Philharmonic, Jansons with the Royal Concertgebouw, Karajan with the Berlin Philharmonic, Sinopoli with the Dresden Staatskapelle, to name just a few). The orchestra has as a whole a grand, occasionally brash sound, but there are individual and sectional question marks. The Paris reviewer, Renaud Machart, characterized the interpretation quite well when he wrote of Jordan's "expressive reservedness that can leave the listener just at the edge of real emotion," as if when the absence of voices and the operatic drama causes the orchestra to be wholly on its own as the main actor, it leaves Jordan a little flustered. Still, this release is of interest to anyone looking for a snapshot of this orchestra at the beginning of what most critics think will be an important era in its history.