SHOSTAKOVICH: Symphony No. 4 in C minor, Op. 43. Symphony No. 11 in G mino, Op. 103 "The Year 1905"
Boston Symphony Orchestra / Andris Nelsons, cond.
DGG B0028595 TT: 65:00 / 63:00

WAGNER: Der Ring Des Niebelung
Soloists / Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra / Sir Georg Solti, cond.
DECCA : 002236146 (one Blu Ray audio disk)

BIZET: Carmen
Marilyn Horne (Carmen). James McCracken (Don José). Tom Krause (Escamillo). Adrianna Maliponte (Micaaela). Colette Boky (Frasquita). Marcia Baldwin (Mercédes). Donald Gramm (Zuniga). Metropolitan Opera Chorus and Orchestra / Leonard Bernstein, cond.
PENTATONE SACD 5186 216 (2 disks) TT: 160 min.

Andris Nelsons has always been associated with music of Shostakovich. He already has recorded Symphony No. 7 with the City of Birmingham Orchestra, Symphoniy No. 10, and Nos. 5, 8, 9 and 10 with the Boston Symphony (REVIEW),, No. 8 with the Royal Concertgebouw available on video (REVIEW), and the two violin concertos with Arabella Steinbacher and the Bavarian Radio Orchestra. Now he continues his Boston series with stunning performances of Symphonies 4 and 11. No. 4 is a craggy demanding work scored for a huge orchestra. It is highly dissonant wi many moments of brutality and sardonic traces of Mahler. It ends softly and mysteriously. The premiere was scheduled in 1936 but was cancelled because of political tyranny. It did not have its premier until 1961. The first major recording was made in 1963 with Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra. Symphony No. 11 first came to the attention of record collectors via Leopold Stokowski's famous 1958 Houston Symphony recording right after the American premiere. There are countless recordings of this magnificent symphony and this new BSO version surely is among the finest. DGG has announced hat for years they have been recording in four-track muli-channel audio, and one wonders why these new recordings were not issued in that format. However, the regular stereo is outstanding, and the many percussion outbursts will test you speakers. AA fine release! Soon to be released: Symphonues 6 and 7.

About five years ago, Decca issued a super deluxe edition of Wager's compete Der Ring Des Niebelungen, with brilliant singers (with the exception of Wolfgang Windgassen as Siegfried) and the Vienna Philharmonic directed by Sir Georg Solti. It was a huge set with all four music dramas on CDs, and a Blu Ray disk containing all four. This site praised it as essential in any opera collection (REVIEW). Now we have another version of these famous recordings, this time in a compact box about the size of a CD but 1 1/2 inches thick. There is only one Blu Ray disk that contains all of the music, and there is a 385 page booklet containing the complete libretti and some photos. Each rack is identified in the libretto, and the on-screen menu for each opera lists the separate tracks but does no identify them, unfortunately—the only debit of his amazing issue. Even if you own pvious issues of these performances, you stil might wish to check out this latest. Thanks, Decca!

This Carmen was recorded at the Met September 1972. Originally in four-track muti- channel sound, it was released in that format for the first time on Pentatone licensed from DGG. This was mentioned on this site several years ago (REVIEW). Now this recording has been issued on DGG in deluxe fashion, a three CD set with an extra Blu Ray audio disk of the entire performance. Although we have spirited and sometimes erratic leadership from the podium, the performance unfortunately is diminished by the inferior singing of James McCracken. Otherwise the cast is strong. However, this is a non-competitive Carmen. Handsomely packaged, a complete libretto and some photos are included.

R.E.B. (July 2018)