Snapshots through the years, beau­ti­fully com­posed

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music - Matthew West­wood

CLASSICAL

THERE’S some dis­crep­ancy in the foun­da­tion dates of Aus­tralia’s old­est sym­phony orches­tras. Syd­ney Sym­phony, shar­ing a birth­day with the ABC, claims to be 75 this year, hav­ing its ori­gins in the Na­tional Broad­cast­ing Sym­phony Orches­tra, but ac­cord­ing to a new book by Martin Buza­cott on ABC mu­sic- mak­ing the SSO made its first ap­pear­ance 61 years ago. The ear­li­est record­ing in this col­lec­tion is of Mahler’s sec­ond sym­phony, con­ducted by the ven­er­a­ble Otto Klem­perer at Syd­ney Town Hall in 1950. Klem­perer has unim­peach­able cre­den­tials as a Mahle­rian — he worked with the com­poser — and his ac­count of the Res­ur­rec­tion sym­phony is driven by quiet in­ten­sity. This five- CD set can­not claim to be com­pre­hen­sive, but ev­ery record­ing is of value, from Eu­gene Goossens con­duct­ing Beethoven’s sec­ond sym­phony in 1952, to Charles Mack­er­ras and so­prano Bir­git Nils­son per­form­ing Wag­ner at the open­ing of the Syd­ney Opera House in 1973 and in­cum­bent chief Gian­luigi Gel­metti con­duct­ing De­bussy’s La Mer in 2005. Of par­tic­u­lar in­ter­est is the suite from John An­till’s bal­let Cor­ro­boree , a partremem­bered, part- imag­ined ac­count of an in­dige­nous cer­e­mony. The sound qual­ity is poor but gives a win­dow into mid- cen­tury mu­sic- mak­ing. Each con­duc­tor rep­re­sented brings his own qual­i­ties. Stu­art Chal­len­der, whose Ab­schied ( Farewell) from Mahler’s Song of the Earth can only be read as vale­dic­tory, leaves an im­pres­sion of what might have been. Edo de Waart’s Ein Helden­leben has bristling in­ten­sity, and Gel­metti pro­duces a com­pelling ac­count of La Mer . The sound of the orches­tra in the Syd­ney Opera House Con­cert Hall is vividly cap­tured. Some of the record­ings have long been out of cir­cu­la­tion and have been care­fully re­stored from ABC tran­scrip­tion discs.

75th An­niver­sary Col­lec­tion Syd­ney Sym­phony ABC Clas­sics

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