Two performances one on CD/download and the other on the internet radio have caused me to whoop with delight.

Michael Tilson Thomas and the Vienna Philharmonic brought Schoenberg's orchestration of the Brahms G Minor Piano Quartet to London recently - which I'm sorry to say I missed, but I did catch it and then listened again (three times actually) to the ORF 1 relay of the performance from Vienna.  It was a cracker and MTT brought out more detail than I have heard in the piece before.  The drive and verve were spectacular and the VPO played it so well (less of a surprise because their recording with Dohnanyi has been a long time favourite of mine). I hope it's repeated often or better still released.  I can do with more Brahms (with or without the help from Schoenberg) like that in my life.

The CD download of Stravinsky's Firebird from Gustavo Dudamel is another performance I've gone back to often in recent weeks.  It is rather lower key than many versions but exquisitely planned by the conductor, executed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic and captured (as a live performance no less) by the recording engineers.  It is the depth of the score that comes through - magical woodwind passages of great detail, stunning soft playing by the LAPO strings and great pacing and forward drive.  Dudamel has seemed recently (and in the La Mer on this disc) to be serving readings which promise to be better in years to come rather than deliver fully formed readings.  But full Firebird ballet (branded patchy in a recent radio review programme - what rot!) is a wonder and in these hands packs a mighty punch but not always where you'd expect.  Well worth investigating.


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