Review by: David Hurwitz
Artistic Quality: 9
Sound Quality: 8
These are, by and large, excellent performances, very well played and conducted. My colleague, Jens Laurson, described Noseda’s recording of Symphony No. 8 as “middle-of-the-road,” and so is this version of No. 10. Yes, that means that the demonic second movement scherzo does’t have the bite of, say, Ancerl, but then no one does. Still, it packs plenty of punch, and as regards the rest of the symphony, when “middle-of-the-road” means “not too slowly” in the long first movement, or the finale’s introduction, then the more in the middle we are, the better.
In short, Noseda keeps it moving, and this pays huge dividends right from the start, where the opening establishes a brooding but inexorable momentum from the very first bars. The big central climax also builds inexorably, with clear textures aided by that slight dry but (in this case) not too flat or dull Barbican acoustic. And let’s not make too much of Noseda’s “middleness.” When the music has to move, as in the main allegro of the finale, it really does, with the return of the “Stalin” music appropriately vicious. I especially enjoyed the way that we can actually hear the timpani playing the DSCH motive in the final bars. No other version does it better.
There are many excellent versions of the Ninth Symphony too, and this is certainly one of them. The opening movement’s wacky development section has plenty of punch; while once again Noseda plays the slow second movement eloquently (lovely clarinet solo) but not too slowly. The rest of the performance proceeds similarly: colorful, rhythmically alive, and satisfyingly fluent. I look forward to future releases in this well played and smartly conducted series.
Reference Recording: No. 10: Ancerl (DG)