In Celebration: Gerhardt Zimmermann and the North Carolina Symphony, 1982-2003: Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 4 in F Minor, Op. 36 (recorded live in April 2002); and Strauss: Also sprach Zarathustra, Op. 30* (recorded live in October 2001) *Brian Reagin, violin. 73:01, ©2003, Available from the North Carolina Symphony’s Raleigh offices, online at [inactive 9/06], or by mail at 2 East South Street Raleigh, N.C. 27601. Phone 919/733-2750. $15.

A more fitting selection of Romantic compositions with which to commemorate the fruit of Gerhardt Zimmermann’s twenty-one years as Music Director of the North Carolina Symphony could hardly be imagined. For CVNC , I reviewed both of these performances very favorably and I raid those reviews shamelessly in the paragraphs that follow. The CD does an excellent job of capturing the true sound of our orchestra in the acoustic of Meymandi Concert Hall. It is well balanced and has a wide dynamic range. Some parts of the orchestra, especially the violas and, to a lesser extent, the lower strings, can be heard better than has often been the case in the lower parts of the hall during concerts.

My CVNC review of the April 2002 performance of the Tchaikovsky stated that “Zimmermann and the orchestra established a new benchmark with their… performance of (this) old chestnut…, Symphony No. 4. (The conductor’s) upgrading of the brass sections paid off in stellar fashion in this brazen performance (with) Andrew McAfee, Kimberly Van Pelt and the three other horn players… glorious in the most spectacular playing (yet) heard from that section. The woodwinds were outstanding – (Jimmy) Gilmore on clarinet, (John) Pederson on bassoon, (Anne Whaley Laney) on flute, Melanie Wilsden on oboe and, cutting through easily on piccolo, Elizabeth A. Lundsford. The sheen of the violin sections was remarkable… the cellos were rich and heartfelt… (the double) basses were rock solid and looked like they were in seventh heaven.”

I was privileged to hear Zimmermann’s interpretation of the Strauss’s Also sprach Zarathustra twice, once in June 2001 with the Eastern Philharmonic at the Eastern Music Festival and this later October 2001 performance that has been recorded. In both concerts “Zimmermann led a simply magnificent performance in which the musicians gave him everything he asked for, in spades. There was strong solo work in every section, and he avoided any hint of sentimentality. The new hall allowed for much greater exploitation of quiet playing, and Raleigh’s canned organ was much more effective (than that at the EMF). The orchestra was filled out with a number of extra musicians. Concertmaster Brian Reagin was superb in his numerous solos as was principal cellist Bonnie Thron. Splendid solos were also (given by) from oboist Michael Schultz, clarinetist Gilmore and bassoonist Pederson. All of the brass were in rare form.”