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Franck: Symphony in D Minor; Fauré: & Pelléas et Mélisande: Incidental Music. Stuart Malina conducting the Greensboro Symphony Orchestra. Privately-produced CD (56:46), available from the GSO for $15 ($16 if mailed). For more information or to order, email: firstname.lastname@example.org . Upon request to that address, Maestro Malina will autograph the CD's booklet.
I can think of no better exemplar of the current artistic maturity of the Greensboro Symphony Orchestra and the interpretive standard achieved by its Music Director Stuart Malina than their first commercial CD. The recording was edited from tapes of live concerts performed March 22 and 24, 2001. I was present at the first concert and enjoyed but did not review it.
The recording is well documented with a full list of the orchestra players, short program notes by Assistant Conductor Bruce Kiesling, and an extensive biographical profile of conductor Stuart Malina, who was the producer. The recording and mastering engineer was Frank Martin. The CD pressing was courtesy of Kindermusik. The performance is remarkably free of audience noise and the recording quality is astonishingly good, although I have slight reservations about the sound the timpani.
Gabriel Fauré's Suite from the Incidental Music from Pelléas et Mélisande, Op. 80, is the perfect foil to display the very high standard of string playing that the orchestra produces. All the string choirs are in turn exposed to close scrutiny while displaying a full range of dynamics and string techniques. Fine solos are performed by principal players: oboist Cara Fish, clarinetist Kelly Burke, Concertmaster John Fadial, cellist Beth Vanderborgh, flutist Debra Reuter-Pivetta, harpist Helen Rifas, and bassoonist Carol Bernstorf. The third movement, Sicilienne, is particularly pleasing.
Cesar Franck's Symphony in D Minor gives the orchestra's reliable brass players a full chance to shine and demonstrates Malina's ability to sustain tension and musical line throughout a major work. Because subclimaxes are expertly managed within the whole, the piece sounds less episodic that it does in some hands. From the slow introduction in the low strings to the final blaze for full orchestra, the forward drive of the Symphony is unrelenting.