COMPOSERS: Bartok,Debussy,Mendelssohn & Beethoven,Rossini,Stravinsky
ALBUM TITLE: World Orchestra for Peace:1995-2005
WORKS: William Tell Overture; Elegie; A Midsummer Night’s Dream Scherzo; Petrushka
PERFORMER: Soloists; London Voices; World Orchestra for Peace/Valery Gergiev, Georg Solti
CATALOGUE NO: 475 6937
To judge from the DVD half of this double-bill, the World Orchestra for Peace made a less than electrifying start. It is moving to hear the late Sir Georg talk about his own pacifistic convictions and the way he brought together 81 top-notch volunteer musicians from 40 countries. The results, after a Toscanini-style William Tell Overture, disappoint: the under-nuanced Bartók only briefly flames in its central Elegie, and the Fidelio finale is no ode to joy, with mostly dour-looking soloists – the Don Fernando is inadequate – and a London chorus one flinches to describe as monocultural (only in this context would it matter). Above all, there’s no hint of the vivacious teamwork so abundant in Abbado’s Lucerne Festival and Barenboim’s West-Eastern Divan orchestras.
What we hear from Gergiev is altogether more involving, despite a few ensemble lapses in both the gleaming fluency of Mendelssohn’s Midsummer Night’s Dream Scherzo, and a La mer which otherwise sings. This Petrushka, though, is a first-rate companion to Gergiev’s Mariinsky recordings of the other early Stravinsky ballets, equally brimful of telling inflections. Some may flinch at the up-front bar-room piano of the sad clown’s soliloquy (I rather like it); but the drama gathers a tension maintained throughout the fairground divertissement of the fourth tableau – try the hair-raising dancing-bear sequence. A benchmark performance, surely, and due for repackaging in a more concentrated context. David Nice