Russian conductor Vladimir Jurowski, adored by British audiences for his long stints with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Glyndebourne, became music director of the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich in 2021. a new live recording under own label: Symphony No. 2 in D major by Beethoven is paired with Brett Dean’s Will: Music for orchestra (2008).
The symphony, often believed to be small because of what came later, has an explosive grandeur and rigor, superbly highlighted here. The woodwinds are brimming with character, especially in the third movement Scherzo, in which Jurowski gives them free rein. The strings are nimble, identifying every accent or dynamic, sliding madly but surely into the wild finale. Dean Will, with its ghostly echoes of Beethoven, forms a striking and ideal chord. Enough Beethoven symphonies? Not when they’re so good.
Ignorance strikes us from all sides: I had barely noticed the existence of John Frederick Lampe (1703-51) until his comic opera Wantley’s Dragon (Resonus) landed in CD form by bandleader John Andrews, the Brook Street Band and a quartet of top soloists (Mary Bevan, Catherine Carby, Mark Wilde and John Savournin). Lampe, a young contemporary of Handel, was a bassoonist in London operas and played at the coronation of George II.
In this farce, which ridicules the absurd lyrical traditions of the time, a dragon terrorizes a village in South Yorkshire. It’s full of lively dances and tunes and some loud lip-smacking kisses. The work has been staged in recent years, but it is a world premiere recording. With the full text and detailed briefing notes (by Annette Rubery), it fills a void for students of the 18th century English stage, but the engagement of these performers creates its own, wider pleasure.