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Listen What the Cat Dragged In: Nott's Mahler in Bamberg

available at AmazonG.Mahler, Symphony No.3,
Anne Schwanewilms, Lioba Braun / Nott / Bamberg SO
Tudor SACD 7158
available at AmazonG.Mahler, Symphony No.9,
Nott / Bamberg SO
Tudor SACD 7162
The Bamberg Symphony Orchestra is not just the best of the lesser known, but probably the least known of the best German orchestras. The German “Focus” Magazine (admittedly not known for its classical music acumen) listed it as Germany’s 6th finest in a 2006 poll. It was founded in 1946; in essence the new orchestra of what had been the German Philharmonic Orchestra Prague.

Joseph Keilbert was its first MD, followed by the what-if directorship of István Kertész (which was cut short by Kertész’ untimely death). [Other intriguing what-if directorships include the BBC SO: What if Rudolf Kempe had not died and been their Chief Conductor any longer? Or what if Kirill Kondrashin had managed to start (and live through) his tenure as director of the BRSO?] Horst Stein took on the reigns as a fine custodian of the orchestra’s sound—but it was really the Brit Jonathan Nott’s assumption of the Chief Conductorship in 2000 (then 37) that placed the Bamberg orchestra back in the proximity of culture spotlights.

The programs became more varied and interesting and the recordings that came out on Tudor became notable success. The recording that most stirred me (and Bob McQuist, my colleague at Tower who now runs the “Classical Lost & Found” review site) was the “Schubert Epilog” disc with Schubert-related compositions by Luciano Berio (“Rendering”), Hans Werner Henze (“Erlkönig Fantasy”), Aribert Reimann (“Menuett Metamorphoses D.600”), Kurt Schwertsik (“Rosamund Epilogue”), Hans Zender (Four choruses).

Now the Bambergers and Nott are engaged in a Mahler Cycle on SACDs. I’ve always wanted to hear those recordings but haven’t gotten to them so far. All the better that now the two most recent releases have arrived on my desk. The Second and much lauded Ninth. The Third will be released in March. You can hear what Jonathan Nott has to say about Mahler in the Universal Edition’s video interview on that composer.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

oh hey, Thomas Hampson gave an amazing recital in NYC a couple days ago-- i was there at the live broadcast and i was delighted to see that they've posted the whole thing available as streaming video, audio, and even downloadable mp3! thought you or your readers might be interested-- his mahler sent chills down my back.