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Neeme Järvi in Concert

State Choir Latvija; Estonian National Symphony Orchestra/Neeme Järvi (Chandos)

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

Neeme Järvi in Concert
Brahms: Schicksalslied*; Mozart: Ave verum corpus*; Reger: Serenade, Op. 95; Wagner: Polonia  Overture
*State Choir Latvija; Estonian National Symphony Orchestra/Neeme Järvi
Chandos CHAN 20262   73:43 mins


Taken from concerts recorded in the Estonia Concert Hall, Tallinn in 2019, these performances capture the indefatigable Neeme Järvi continuing to explore relatively neglected corners of the repertoire. Wagner’s early overture Polonia all too often falls into bombast, but that’s understandable, given its nationalist inspiration, and it’s played for all it’s worth, even if the orchestral sound could have greater presence.

The gentler world of Reger’s Serenade is more sympathetically captured, and the contrast and interplay between the antiphonal string sections – unmuted on the left, muted on the right – makes its effect from the outset. It’s the most substantial work on the album and, as with much Reger, has an unfortunate tendency to sprawl. The opening movement starts with an attractive idea, then the episodic way that it’s treated robs the music of coherence, and the chromaticism and constant changes of key are unsettling. But Järvi shows his affection for the work, especially in the Andante, which Reger claimed as the most beautiful slow movement he’d ever written, and there are lovely textures and seamless phrasing.

We’re on more familiar territory in Brahms’s Schicksalslied, and with a composer who has a sure grasp of pacing and structure. The quality of choral singing of the Latvian State Choir is rightly celebrated, and this is a beautifully shaped performance, with vocal warmth and blend, and the orchestral postlude bringing a radiant conclusion.

Short and intimate, Mozart’s Ave verum corpus has an intensity which only increases as the music becomes quieter, but a pity that the final applause was retained, breaking the mood.


Martin Cotton