Review by: David Hurwitz
Artistic Quality: 6
Sound Quality: 5
This is the kind of performance that tries your patience. Why can’t Noseda play the first movement of this symphony up to tempo? The whole thing drags, never working up sufficient energy to give those climactic waves of sound in the development section the slightest shred of urgency. Add to this sonics that strip the orchestra of the last shred of timbral allure–brass are cold and tinny, the strings thin, woodwinds diminutive, while the timpani thud like falling bricks–and the result makes for painful listening. The last three movements are up to tempo, by the way, but no more appealing sonically.
The coupling, Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition in Ravel’s orchestration, sounds a bit better, to be sure, and the performance has more urgency. The Promenades are swift and purposeful, the individual pictures nicely differentiated despite some weird tempo manipulations (those in Gnomus make no sense at all). Still, this is just another average night at the symphony, and if you want to hear the LSO play this music go for Abbado’s terrific DG recording, where just about everything goes right and you don’t have to put up with the Barbican’s dry as dust acoustic.
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