I know many people who would be startled to see the name Hans Vonk linked with the name Olivier Messiaen. Vonk's very fine performances with the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra tended to feature the German repertoire, primarily 19th century works. (A Bruckner 4th Symphony with SLSO has also been issued along with this disc.) Anyone who loves the great Turangalila Symphony is in for a revelatory experience when hearing Vonk's performance.
I first heard the Turangalila on the lp issue of Ozawa's performance; I immediately loved the work, but was never really comfortable with that recording and was happy to hear later issues by other conductors, almost all of whom seemed to offer stronger performances than Ozawa's. While several of the recordings are admirable, I believe Vonk's, surprising as it may seem, is the most beautifully realized and powerful performance I have ever heard. The music moves with a clarity and emphasis seldom achieved by other orchestras, and there is an overall sense of cohesion, of aesthetic unity, that is unique to this performance. Vonk was often criticized in St. Louis as a workmanlike but colorless conductor; this performance puts the lie to that complaint; it is brilliant, energizing, not to be missed. I recommend it highly and without reservation.
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