BBC Music Magazine
From the archives
Andrew Mcgregor revisits the riches of Estonian conductor Neeme Järvi’s impressive Chandos catalogue
Neeme Järvi is a particular type of modern maestro: one who fosters long relationships with a variety of orchestras and helps them better themselves, while they repay him with a willingness to explore unusual repertoire, and follow him into the recording studio to make a permanent record of their work. There are maybe 500 Järvi recordings out there, over 200 of them on Chandos, of which one of the earliest starts its celebratory set A Lifetime on Chandos (CHAN 20088; 25 CDS): his award-winning Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 6 with the Scottish National Orchestra from 1986 still impresses with its dynamic impact and grasp of structure. The set continues in roughly chronological order through to 2017’s infectiously lively Strauss in St Petersburg album. Here are just a few highlights in this wideranging set: the Scottish Dvoˇrák cycle is represented by the New World Symphony, a warmly rewarding recording, while Strauss’s Alpine Symphony shows Järvi’s craggily imposing side alongside the detail and impact of Chandos’s sound, and a handful of Strauss’s orchestral songs from the complete series with Felicity Lott – a delicious bonus. I’d forgotten how well this account of Shostakovich’s Tenth Symphony works; Brahms’s complete Hungarian Dances with the LSO are charming but never undersold, and the album of Weber Overtures is an exuberant delight. The two Barber symphonies are highlights of Järvi’s Detroit recordings, while in Bergen Järvi’s Halvorsen album brings a persuasive Symphony No. 1, and in Gothenburg there’s the first volume of their Kurt Atterberg series, bringing the Swedish composer to new audiences. Chabrier with the Suisse Romande Orchestra is pure entertainment, and the recent Fuˇcik album is a revelation for anyone unfamiliar with the Czech composer. The notes include tributes from the producers who work with Järvi, who note his trust, loyalty, and inquisitiveness, and that extraordinary ability to absorb a score with remarkable rapidity, and to persuade an orchestra to follow him as though they’ve known it all their lives.