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EVGENY SVETLANOV CONDUCTS BRAHMS, DEBUSSY & CHAUSSON - EVGENY SVETLANOV; LSO; BAKER

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Evgeny Svetlanov conducts Debussy & Brahms

Brahms: Symphony No. 3 in F major, Op. 90
Chausson: Le temps des lilas
Chausson: Poème de l'amour et de la mer, Op. 19
Debussy: La Mer

Royal Festival Hall, London, 17 April 1975

Janet Baker (mezzo-soprano)

London Symphony Orchestra, Evgeny Svetlanov

vgeny Svetlanov (1928–2002) began his conducting careeer in 1953 at the Bolshoi Theatre, becoming chief conductor in 1962. In 1965 he was appointed chief conductor of the USSR State Symphony Orchestra, where he remained until his death. Valery Gergiev described the USSR State Symphony as an ‘orchestra with a voice’ under Svetlanov. From 1970 onwards, Svetlanov started to conduct in the West and with the advent of perestroika in the late 1980s, many musicians including Svetlanov took up positions in Europe. He was a regular guest conductor in the UK – with the LSO (becoming prinicipal guest in 1979), the Philharmonia and the BBCSO – as well as in the Netherlands, France and Japan.

Svetlanov’s repertoire was large (including his discography). In addition to the full range of Russian works, he was a masterly conductor of non-Russian composers of the late-Romantic era including Bruckner, Elgar and Mahler, as well as Debussy and Brahms as demonstrated here. He died in 2002 shortly after conducting the BBCSO in a memorable account of Rachmaninov’s cantata The Bells (available on ICAC5069).

The performances of the Brahms and Debussy are recorded in brilliant stereo and have never been issued before.

ICA Classics have already released three CDs of Svetlanov in Russian music, conducting works by Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Rachmaninov and Shostakovich. We now hear him in Brahms and Debussy, two composers whose works he performed quite regularly during his career. He recorded the complete Brahms Symphonies in Russia with Melodiya. The Brahms is both powerful and mellifluous, superbly played by the LSO, while the Debussy has tension from the start, combining colour, sensitivity and transparency. David Nice states in his booklet notes ‘Svetlanov reminds us that “impressionism” is quite the wrong term for what develops as pure expressionism. As this recording demonstrates, no conductor ever made a more Dionysian orgy out of the final charge to the stampeding finish.’

The bonus consists of Janet Baker singing the final song from Chausson’s Poème de l’amour et de la mer; ‘La Mort de l’amour – Le Temps des lilas’. This comes from the same concert and has been previously issued. In a review of this performance, The Times wrote of Janet Baker’s ‘lovely tone throughout a wide range and an equally beautiful shapeliness and continuity of line’. Svetlanov was praised for achieving a refined orchestral blend and balance. The performance was said to have held ‘a large audience spellbound’.


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