Mariss Jansons’  greatest hits

Mariss Jansons’ greatest hits


norman lebrecht

December 01, 2019

1 Berlioz, Symphonie Fantastique

No work consumed more of his concentration and micropreparation, and none turned out more different at every performance

2 Mahler 2nd symphony

He consulted everyone from Gilbert Kaplan, who owned the manuscript, to a doublebass player whose father played in Mahler’s orchestra. He was never, ever satisfied with the results.

3 Beethoven 7

4 Rossini William Tell overture

5 Shostakovich 10

6 The perfect encore



  • Steve says:

    I came across this recording of Shostakovich’s 5th today. A truly compelling and towering performance:

    • Anton Bruckner says:

      About 30 years ago I attended a concert of the Israel Philarmonic conducted by MJ playing Shostakovich 5th symphony. This performance has accompanied me for decades. RIP

  • Petros LInardos says:

    Five out of the six above clips are with the BRSO, only one with the Concertgebouw. Coincidence ? Or did Jansons have a better chemistry with the Munich band than with the one of Amsterdam?

    • Simon says:

      I was lucky enough to attend one of his last concerts with the Concertgebouw, Mahler 7 in 2016. A superb performance, clearly a great chemistry with the orchestra and the audience.

      • Brian Cooper says:

        Indeed! And, very oddly, not sold out, at least on the night I attended. After his departure from the Concertgebouw Orchestra, he was usually feted like a rock star whenever he returned to Amsterdam, be it the Concertgebouw or the opera.

    • fflambeau says:

      One is with the Philadelphia Orchestra.

    • Tamino says:

      Not coincidence but most likely testament to BR not going after copyright violations on YouTube, while Concertgebouw does.
      Concertgebouw does care much about publishing exclusive quality recordings. BR does not care that much, they care more about quantitative outreach, if about anything when it comes to their recordings. I heard they are demolishing their own in house orchestra studios, making room for more administration offices.

  • mary says:

    Surely one could do a better list than one that includes William Tell and Symphonie Fantastique.

  • Michel says:

    Very, very sad ! I have all his Chostakovitch symphonies and there are surely among my “desert island discs” !

  • David K. Nelson says:

    I’d name his Tchaikovsky Symphony #4 with the Oslo Philharmonic. Not a generous CD in terms of timing but the orchestra sounds like it is genuinely excited by the music.

    • Stalls Left says:

      Tchaik #4 at the Proms with the Oslo Phil in August 1989 is seared into the memory. It was an astounding performance. Mariss Jansons was one of the very greatest conductors. RIP Maestro.

  • Jean says:

    When I think about Jansons, the first piece that comes to my mind is him conducting Berlioz’ Symphonie fantastique.

    I also appreciate his Sibelius recordings: he really understood them.

  • NYMike says:

    I own the Shostakovich 10th/Philly CD probably used in this YouTube posting. Sadly, he was to have conducted it @ Carnegie Hall the night after his Brahms 4th (his last concert). I’ll always remember a Verklärte Nacht he did with the VPO @ Carnegie years ago. I’ve never heard a more gripping performance of it.

  • Walter says:

    Jansons didn’t need one of the great names to work his magic. Have a listen to this Alpine Symphony with the BBC Welsh.

  • Scott Fruehwald says:

    Very sad news. He’s been one of my favorite conductors since I first heard him conduct Symphony Fantastique with the NY Phil on Halloween 2000. I think this is the most emotional performance of the work I ever heard.

    My favorite performance of his was the Shostakovich 7th with the BRSO at Carnegie in April 2016. Stunning!

  • HRS says:

    It is difficult to make a list right now, when we all are suffering his loss.. Right now I have to hear his Brahms 3rd Symphony with BRSO, I had the luck to be on rehearsals and hear it live in Munich.. Brahms was indeed one of his loved composers.

  • Uncle S says:

    Risking to be condemned for being a simpleton, will post my favorite five and a half minutes of Mariss Jansons conducting. Yes, I know: a summer open-air concert, a reliable audience favorite, a bit of a showmanship on the conductor’s part – I do realize all of that, but yet… He’s still undeniably CONDUCTING, his immense love and enthusiasm for the music come through – and the great BPO responds to the Maestro by producing one of the best renditions (if not – THE best!) of that over-performed and over-recorded piece I’ve ever heard – yep, in the course of a (usually – laid-back) summer open-air performance!
    RIP, Great Musician!

  • Lorito says:

    Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances should be in the list as well!

  • Ken says:

    The man never conducted a single note I would care about.

  • Ken says:

    OK, I didn’t know he had died. But I still feel the same way.

  • christopher storey says:

    I hope that the utterly despicable Malte Hemmerich will now crawl away in self disgust at his hyper-critical article about Janssons , and will never be heard of again . RIP a great artist

  • Edoardo says:

    The Pique Dame in Amsterdam was really groundbreaking.

    His New Year concert with WP was probably the best since Kleiber

  • klavierBWV988 says:

    I’d add Daphnis et Chloé Suite N. 2

  • Petros Linardos says:

    I have a soft spot for his Mendelssohn 3rd Symphony (Scottish) with the BRSO. The introduction, in particular, has a flow that I seldom find.

  • Michael R says:

    I would also add Dvorak’s 8th and 9th symphonies as well! His recordings of those are always my go to. May he rest in piece.

  • Michael R says:

    I would also add Dvorak’s 8th and 9th symphonies! Jansons performances of those are top notch. May he rest in piece.

  • Amos says:

    Paying tribute to a recently deceased prominent professional is challenging under any circumstance. Trying to remain objective and respectful simultaneously is especially difficult when you have a personal connection to the person and they serve as a resource for your own professional aspirations. In the case of MJ the consensus of opinions indicates he approached conducting with dedication, an admirable work ethic and more than the typical element of humanity. That said when he recorded his Tchaikovsky cycle in Oslo it was widely predicted he would become the next great Soviet-era conductor. In the intervening years despite prominent positions I would argue he never reached that status. As to why I would point to the Berlioz attached to this blog entry. The performance was clearly carefully planned and executed but the result sounds as much like Tchaikovsky as it does Berlioz. For comparison I would suggest listening to the YouTube performances from 1962 with Munch/BSO or the 1980’s Muti/PO. In short commemorating a life well-lived doesn’t need to devolve into hagiography.

  • David says:

    I’d suggest his best-ever Dvorak 5 in Oslo, Honegger in Oslo, Bruckner 8 in Munich, and his EMI Shostakovich Cycle.