4.5 stars -- just about perfect for its age
Larry VanDeSande | Mason, Michigan United States | 04/04/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"As the scant notes to this issue suggest, the young Otmar Suitner (born 1922 in Innsbruck, Austria) transcended the archtype 20th century postwar German conductor. He represents the model in terms of his repertory but he differs greatly from other conductors that matured behind the Iron Curtain. Instead of seeking Soviet glory, Socialist relism, or drama that would turn an apple to stone, Suitner's work was marked by a lightness that set him apart from the crowd.
I still enjoy his Berlin Classics recordings from the 1960s with the Stattskapelle Berlin, in particular his pairing of the Bizet & Weber Symphonies No. 1 and the Dvorak Symphonies 6 & 7. Suitner's approach is more idiomatic to the sunshine of Dvorak's 6th Symphony than the Brahmsian minor key drama of the Symphony 7, in my opinion.
He is temperamentally agreeable to the music on this CD -- Grieg's two "Peer Gynt" suites and some bombastic Lizst tone poems. The Grieg gets a lot of air time on public radio stations during the day. It is not a favorite of mine and these recordings are revelatory. They illuminate not just Grieg's story but the details of his orchestration within the confines of the 1952-53 mono recordings. The young Suitner was more pointed and theatrical here than I expected and the result is completely successful, assisted by outstanding playing from the Bamberg Symphony.
The performances of the two Lizst tone poems -- "Orpheus" and "Mazeppa" -- are somewhat less noteworthy. In "Orpheus" Suitner concentrates on beauty and musical values at the expense of the composer's mystic and visionary panorama. "Mazeppa" too is straightforward; Suitner's staunch direction is deliberately paced before he blazes forward from the coda. Neither of Lizst's tone poems is given much in the way of rubato or expressive gestures; Suitner sounds very East German here.
The mono sound circa 1952-56 is staggeringly successful. With exceptional clarity and pinpoint instrumental playing you'd think they spotlighted these recordings and remixed them. In addition I've not heard the Bamberg Symphony play so well. This is of special interest; some German orchestras had trouble rebuilding in the first decade after the war. You'd never know that listening to this.
Those that fancy historic recordings will find their curiosity sated and younger listeners will benefit from one of the lesser lights of the German podium's unusual management in "Peer Gynt". Unless you are an audiophile there is something here you've probably not heard before."
At last from the ashes of the past, emerged this sumptuous p
Hiram Gomez Pardo | Valencia, Venezuela | 07/03/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Ottmar Suitner and the Bamberg symphony achieved a special musical chemistry and recorded a true anthological document around this well known and celebrated incidental music of Peer Gynt, based on Henrik Ibsen.
The result was extremely worthy to mention. The strings sounded with dense expression and sublime persuasion, retaking the original essence of the score without sentimental concession or self indulgence.
A true gem to collect.