Colin Davis – Beethoven Odyssey Colin Davis – Beethoven Odyssey


Colin Davis – Beethoven Odyssey
Colin Davis
Label
Decca
Catalogue No.
Barcode
Format
12-CD
About

A master Beethoven conductor in his prime – a 12-CD set presenting the ‘London’ Beethoven recordings of Sir Colin Davis, including the Symphonies, a selection of Overtures, the five Piano Concertos (Stephen Kovacevich), Violin Concerto (Arthur Grumiaux) and the two Masses. These broadly-sung and spacious performances, unexaggerated yet alive, are collected together for the first time.

When Colin Davis became its Chief Conductor in 1967, the BBC Symphony Orchestra was known as the house band for the BBC Proms, specialising in new music, and a radio orchestra first and foremost. With this series of Beethoven recordings the orchestra entered the mainstream commercial market and showed itself the equal of many more glamorous ensembles, not least thanks to the rich and rounded sonority cultivated by Davis.

A 1961 recording of the Seventh Symphony with Beecham’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra had gathered much critical praise, but Davis’s 1976 remake with the LSO proved that the elemental fire of the early recording was no fluke. These are broadly sung and spacious performances, unexaggerated and yet alive with the strong accents and inner detail that marked out Davis’s readings of music from Mozart to Tippett.

The five piano concertos with Stephen Kovacevich quickly became a staple of the Philips catalogue, but the symphony recordings fell out of print: they have been compiled here for the first time, receiving new remasterings and first publications on CD, as are several of the overtures. There is an opportunity to compare the young firebrand Davis and his calmer self in middle age with two accounts of the Pastoral Symphony: with the LSO in 1962 (from the same sessions as a previously unpublished Second Leonore Overture – unpublished until now!) and with the BBCSO in July 1974. The First Symphony also receives its first appearance on a Universal Music label.

The BBCSO cycle was left incomplete, and Davis recorded both the Mass in C and Missa solemnis with the LSO – again, full-bodied readings that have maintained their place in the catalogue and drawn praise for their unaffected, straightforward eloquence – but his first recorded Ninth had to wait until 1985, once he had become Music Director of the Bavarian Radio SO in Munich. The playing here is superbly refined and animated by a springy articulation that was a Davis specialty and set him apart from the German Romantic tradition in this repertoire, as did the observance of repeats. The most complete compilation of Davis’s ‘London’ Beethoven ever issued, the set is published with a new essay by Peter Quantrill, and a tribute by Costa Pilavachi, who worked with Davis during his time at Philips.

 

TRACK LISTING / ARTISTS

CD 1
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN (1770–1827)
Symphony No. 1 in C major, Op. 21
Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 36*
Overture – Leonore No. 3, Op. 72b*
BBC Symphony Orchestra (Symphonies Nos. 1 & 2)
London Symphony Orchestra
Sir Colin Davis
*FIRST CD RELEASE ON DECCA
°PREVIOUSLY UNPUBLISHED ON PHILIPS/DECCA

CD 2
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN (1770–1827)
Symphony No. 3 in E flat major, Op. 55 ‘Eroica’*
Overture – Coriolan, Op. 62°
Overture – Leonore No. 1, Op. 138
BBC Symphony Orchestra
Sir Colin Davis
*FIRST INTERNATIONAL CD RELEASE ON DECCA
°FIRST CD RELEASE ON DECCA

CD 3
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN (1770–1827)
Overture – Egmont, Op. 84*
Symphony No. 4 in B flat major, Op. 60°
Symphony No. 8 in F major, Op. 93°
BBC Symphony Orchestra
Sir Colin Davis
*FIRST CD RELEASE ON DECCA
°FIRST INTERNATIONAL CD RELEASE ON DECCA

CD 4
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN (1770–1827)
Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67
Symphony No. 6 in F major, Op. 68 ‘Pastoral’
BBC Symphony Orchestra
Sir Colin Davis
FIRST INTERNATIONAL CD RELEASE ON DECCA

CD 5
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN (1770–1827)
Symphony No. 6 in F major, Op. 68 ‘Pastoral’*
Overture – Die Geschöpfe des Prometheus*
Overture – Leonore No. 2, Op. 72a°
London Symphony Orchestra
Sir Colin Davis
*FIRST CD RELEASE ON DECCA
°PREVIOUSLY UNPUBLISHED

CD 6
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN (1770–1827)
Symphony No. 7 in A major, Op. 92
London Symphony Orchestra
Sir Colin Davis
FIRST INTERNATIONAL CD RELEASE ON DECCA

CD 7
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN (1770–1827)
Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125 ‘Choral’
Helen Donath, soprano
Trudeliese Schmidt, mezzo-soprano
Klaus König, tenor
Simon Estes, bass
Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks
Josef Schmidhuber, chorus master
Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks
Sir Colin Davis

CD 8
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN (1770–1827)
Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 61
Arthur Grumiaux, violin
Concertgebouworkest
Sir Colin Davis

Piano Concerto No. 1 in C major, Op. 15
Stephen Kovacevich, piano
BBC Symphony Orchestra
Sir Colin Davis

CD 9
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN (1770–1827)
Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat major, Op. 19
Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major, Op. 58
Stephen Kovacevich, piano
BBC Symphony Orchestra
SIR COLIN DAVIS

CD 10
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN (1770–1827)
Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor, Op. 37
Piano Concerto No. 5 in E flat major, Op. 73 ‘Emperor’
Stephen Kovacevich, piano
BBC Symphony Orchestra (No. 3)
London Symphony Orchestra (No. 5)
Sir Colin Davis

CDs 11 & 12
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN (1770–1827)
Mass in C major, Op. 86
Christiane Eda-Pierre, soprano
Patricia Payne, mezzo-soprano
Robert Tear, tenor
Kurt Moll, bass
Leslie Pearson, John Constable, organ
London Symphony Chorus
Richard Hickox, chorus master
London Symphony Orchestra
Sir Colin Davis

Mass in D major, Op. 123 ‘Missa Solemnis’
Anna Tomowa-Sintow, soprano
Patricia Payne, mezzo-soprano
Robert Tear, tenor
Robert Lloyd, bass
John Constable, organ
London Symphony Chorus
Richard Hickox, chorus master
London Symphony Orchestra

Recording information

CD 1
Recording Producer: Vittorio Negri
Balance Engineer: Vittorio Negri
Recording Locations: Wembley Town Hall, London, UK, 12–13 December 1975 (Symphonies Nos. 1, 2); Henry Wood Hall, London, UK, 22–24 April 1976 (Leonore No. 3)
Original Philips Releases: 9500 160 (Symphony No. 2, Leonore No. 3): May 1977; Symphony No. 1 unreleased on Philips

CD 2
Recording Producer: Volker Straus
Balance Engineer: Volker Straus
Recording Locations: Walthamstow Assembly Hall, London, UK, 15–21 September 1970 (Symphony No. 3, Coriolan); Wembley Town Hall, London, UK, 27 September 1971 (Leonore No. 1)
Original Philips Releases: 6500 141 (Symphony No. 3, Coriolan): September 1971; 6580 064 (Leonore No. 1): February 1973

CD 3
Recording Producers: Volker Straus (Egmont); Vittorio Negri (Symphonies Nos. 4, 8)
Balance Engineers: Volker Straus (Egmont); Vittorio Negri (Symphonies Nos. 4, 8)
Recording Location: Wembley Town Hall, London, UK, 19–20 December 1974 (Egmont), 27 February 1975 (Symphony No. 4), 16 March 1973 (Symphony No. 8)
Original Philips Releases: 9500 032 (Egmont, Symphony No. 4): April 1976; 6500 462 (Symphony No. 8): November 1974

CD 4
Recording Producers: Vittorio Negri (Symphony No. 5); Volker Straus (Symphony No. 6)
Balance Engineers: Vittorio Negri (Symphony No. 5); Volker Straus (Symphony No. 6)
Recording Locations: Walthamstow Assembly Hall, London, UK, 5–6 October 1972 (Symphony No. 5); Wembley Town Hall, London, UK, 11–12 July 1974 (Symphony No. 6)
Original Philips Releases: 6500 462 (Symphony No. 5): November 1974; 6500 463 (Symphony No. 6): May 1976

CD 5
Recording Producer: Vittorio Negri
Balance Engineer: Vittorio Negri
Recording Location: Walthamstow Assembly Hall, London, UK, 11–13 & 16–17 April 1962
Original Philips Release: 835 133AY (Symphony No. 6, Prometheus): October 1962

CD 6
Recording Producer: Vittorio Negri
Balance Engineer: Vittorio Negri
Recording Location: Henry Wood Hall, London, UK, 22–24 April 1976
Original Philips Release: 9500 219: March 1977

CD 7
Recording: Residenz, Herkulessaal, Munich, Germany, 15–19 July 1985
Original Philips Release: 416 353-1: May 1986

CD 8
Recording Producers: Vittorio Negri (Violin Concerto); Volker Straus (Piano Concerto No. 1)
Balance Engineers: Vittorio Negri (Violin Concerto); Volker Straus (Piano Concerto No. 1)
Recording Locations: Grote Zaal, Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 7–10 January 1974 (Violin Concerto); Walthamstow Assembly Hall, London, UK, 15–16 September 1970 (Piano Concerto No. 1)
Original Philips Releases: 6500 775 (Violin Concerto): March 1975; 6500 179 (Piano Concerto No. 1): December 1971

CD 9
Recording Producer: Volker Straus
Recording Engineer: Volker Straus
Recording Location: Wembley Town Hall, London, UK, 19–20 December 1974
Original Philips Release: 6747 104: September 1975

CD 10
Recording Producer: Volker Straus
Balance Engineer: Volker Straus
Recording Location: Walthamstow Assembly Hall, London, UK, 24–28 September 1971 (Piano Concerto No. 3), 6–7 May 1969 (Piano Concerto No. 5)
Original Philips Releases: 6500 315 (Piano Concerto No. 3): January 1975; SAL 3787 (Piano Concerto No. 5): January 1970

CD 11 & 12
Recording Producer: Vittorio Negri
Balance Engineer: Vittorio Negri
Recording Locations: All Saints’ Church, Tooting, London, UK, 30 November & 2 and 5 December 1977 (Mass in C major); Walthamstow Assembly Hall, London, UK, 14–20 October 1977 (Missa solemnis)
Original Philips Release: 6769 001: September 1978