Sir Colin Davis leads the Boston Symphony this week in another historic concert from the vaults. This one is from November 28, 1975 and features Sir Colin leading the orchestra in music by Mendelssohn and Sibelius.
Starting off with selections from Midsummer Nights Dream and then continuing with Sibelius’ Tapiola Suite and ending the concert with Sibelius’ Symphony number 6. It was recorded on November 28, 1975.
Sir Colin Rex Davis CH CBE (25 September 1927 – 14 April 2013) was an English conductor, known for his association with the London Symphony Orchestra, having first conducted it in 1959. His repertoire was broad, but among the composers with whom he was particularly associated were Mozart, Berlioz, Elgar, Sibelius, Stravinsky and Tippett.
He studied clarinet, but was intent on becoming a conductor. After struggles as a freelance conductor from 1949 to 1957, he gained a series of appointments with orchestras including the BBC Scottish Orchestra, the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra. He also held the musical directorships of Sadler’s Wells Opera and the Royal Opera House, where he was principal conductor for over fifteen years. His guest conductorships included the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic and the Dresden Staatskapelle, among many others.
As a teacher, Davis held posts at the Royal Academy of Music, London, and the Landesgymnasium für Musik “Carl Maria von Weber” (preparatory school for music) in Dresden. He made his first gramophone recordings in 1958, and his discography over the next five decades was extensive, with a large number of studio recordings for Philips Records and a substantial catalogue of live recordings for the London Symphony Orchestra’s own label.
n the 1960s, Davis signed as an exclusive artist for Philips Records, with whom he made an extensive range of recordings in the symphonic repertoire and a large number of operatic recordings, including the major Mozart operas; operas by Tippett, Britten, Verdi and Puccini; and a comprehensive survey of the operas of Berlioz, culminating in an award-winning first recording of the complete Les Troyens issued in May 1970.
Davis’s 1966 Philips recording of Handel’s Messiah was regarded as revelatory at the time of its issue for its departure from the large-scale Victorian-style performances that had previously been customary. Other Philips recordings included a 1982 set of Haydn’s twelve London symphonies with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra “distinguished by performances of tremendous style and authority, and a sense of rhythmic impetus that is most exhilarating”; and a 1995 Beethoven symphony cycle with the Dresden Staatskapelle, of which Gramophone wrote, “There has not been a Beethoven cycle like this since Klemperer’s heyday.”
Davis made a number of records with the Boston Symphony Orchestra for Philips, including the first of his three Sibelius cycles, which remains in the CD catalogues. They also recorded works by Debussy, Grieg, Schubert, Schumann, and Tchaikovsky.
For RCA Victor Red Seal, Davis recorded complete symphony cycles of Sibelius (with the LSO), Brahms (Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, 1989–98), and Schubert (Dresden Staatskapelle, 1996).
Perfect Anti-Road Rage Wednesday Music – grab a chair, a glass (or a pipe, or a bag of something) and relax for the next 80 or so minutes. You earned it.