Thursday, November 10, 2011

De Sabata/Kodaly

The Dances of Galanta with De Sabata and the Berlin Philharmonic in 1939. It's bloody great. The only recording that competes with, and perhaps exceeds, Georg Solti's barn-burning London Philharmonic recording from the 50's. De Sabata was probably the most serious omission on my Top 20 Conductors list. If my head were on straighter he'd probably have been #6, right between Munch and Rattle. Expressive as his music-making is, he's a bit too highly strung and over-precise for my taste - he clearly drives the music in the name of expression, but the result can seem more ennervated than necessary. This is a problem shared by the Carlos Kleiber, Willem Mengelberg, Antal Dorati, and Ferenc Fricsay (extraordinary conductors all of them, to say nothing of contemporary ones like Muti, Gergiev, Pappano and Dudamel...). But when De Sabata produces results of such excitement and personality, what does a complaint like that matter unless you're comparing to the very best of the best?

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