The American Symphony Orchestra has just released a music download of the August 18, 2012 performance of the Psaume at the Bard Music Festival, with ASO music director (and Schmitt champion) Leon Botstein conducting the orchestra and the Bard Festival Chorale. Lori Guilbeau is the soprano soloist.
This release becomes the second commercial recording of a live performance of the Psaume 47. (The other one, released on the Fontec label, features Jean Fournet leading a 1992 performance in Tokyo, Japan.)
Both of these readings demonstrate how exciting this music is when performed in front of a live audience instead of in a recording session. The energy is palpable and really comes through in a blaze of glory.
While the “studio” commercial releases may be a bit more polished in terms of ensemble and intonation, nothing can compensate for the sheer electricity of these two live recordings.
[For a partial listing of public performances I’ve compiled of the Psalm, click or tap here.]
This 2012 Botstein performance is interesting in that the conductor has made several interpretive changes from his approach to the music back when he conducted the same orchestra in a performance of the Psalm in 1997 at Lincoln Center in New York City, a concert I had the pleasure of attending.
I’m not sure I’m totally comfortable with the stepped-up tempi in the ravishing middle section, where the soprano soloist has a bit of a challenge keeping up with the orchestra and chorus (although she makes a Herculean effort and we can give her credit for trying!)
Still, it’s incredible to hear this music in a live recording, and it helps underscore how and why this music made such a major impression on Parisian audiences when it was premiered in 1906, more than a century ago.
For those who are signed up on Spotify, you can link to the 2012 Botstein performance here.
Or, for a high-res MPG3 download in full-fidelity sound, the American Symphony Orchestra has made the recording available through Amazon. That version provides a great “you are there” sonic experience for a very modest outlay of less than US$8.
Whichever option you choose … you will not be disappointed.