Following Ole Kristian Ruuds superb Grieg cycle with the Bergen Philharmonic on BIS, Paavo Järvi now continues his own Grieg survey on Virgin Classics, which began with last years release of the Peer Gynt material. While Ruuds fluent, straightforward accounts of these orchestral works are enormously persuasive, with the Bergen Philharmonic responding gloriously in BISs powerful SACD recordings, Järvi has marshaled his own Estonian troops no less effectively. His somewhat more studied approach reveals felicities of Griegs orchestration (and Hans Sitts in the Norwegian Dances) which neither Ruud nor any other predecessor has made so clear. This is involvement at total-immersion level: That incredible detail is not achieved at the expense of momentum, though some listeners may find Järvis treatment of those big pauses at the end of the Symphonic Dances a little labored. (Ruud effectively minimizes them.)
There is a curious miscalculation in Virgins disc layout, separating the Two Elegiac Melodies, for strings alone, with the four Norwegian Dances. If the Elegiac pair had been left intact, we could have had simple alternations of full-orchestra dance sets and works for strings, and there would have been no confusion on the listeners part when the final item on the disc, the Holberg Suite for strings, begins. This will bother some listeners less than others, of course, and in any event, all the performances are utterly persuasive, with the Holberg Suites concluding Rigaudon providing a particularly ingratiating wind-up. Virgins richly detailed two-channel sound is outstanding in its own right, as specifically tailored to the character of Järvis performances as BISs is to that of Ruuds.
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