The Slipped Disc daily comfort zone (224): Original Jansons

Arvid (1914-1984), father of Mariss (1943-2019), a phenomenal conductor, far too little known.

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  • totally agree; as a teenager in Manchester he was my hero: his Halle concerts were phenomenal. Rich in the memory are a Shostakovich 11 (soon after DSCH died.. Dec 75) after which he held the enormous score to his heart and held it out to the Free Trade Hall audience. Also a Shost 4 preceded by the Siegfriedd Funeral March i.m. Oistrakh and Tchai 1 with Ogdon. Also the 1974 Manchester premiere of 15 which he repeated 8 months later (when Sir Mark did it a few years ago he claimed he did not know if the Halle had performed it!) His Tchaik 5 was the greatest I have heard and other memories that resonate still are his Beethoven 7 and Sibelius 5. He was a magician with a technique like Stokowski’s; in those days he had to conduct the National Anthem to start each concert and he even made that sound special!

  • Well, he certainly makes it sound sad, and threadbare; which are entirely appropriate.

    About the “magic number” 5: DS was one of the two co-founders of the “Gustav Mahler Society of the Soviet Union.”

    Myth and legend report that DS and Alma exchanged correspondence about DS’ completing Mahler’s Tenth.

    Be that as it may, or not be; IMHO there is no way to understand DS5, without having understood GM5.

    jm

    • I’m not sure the correspondence about the Mahler 10 completion got as far as Alma Mahler; I have seen [in his New York home, decades ago] copies of the correspondence between Jack Diether and DSCH; Jack took it upon himself in the early 1940s to propose completion to DSCH, who politely turned it down.

    • That is true for his native Latvia, but in the rest of Soviet Union where he lived and worked most of his adult life he was known as Arvid; officially in Russian, Арвид Кришевич Янсонс (Arvid Krishevich Jansons). The story which may or may not be true was that when he had difficulty conducting in 5, it helped him to keep saying “Ar-vid Kri-she-vich, Ar-vid Kri-she-vich”, and to conduct in 7 it was “Jan-sons Ar-vid Kri-she-vich”.

      • Indeed, each nation to its own….for Italians (and maybe Westerners generally), it was Lollobrigida=5 and Gina Lollobrigida=7!

        Good to have a souvenir of Arvid(s) Jansons, here sounding better than my memories of recordings i heard as a teenager, (Melodiya), altho quite strikingly fast tempi for Shost 5 surprose me at first(s).

  • Totally concur with pjl, having heard him conduct the Halle many times in Sheffield in the 1960’s. A phenomenal Tchaikovsky 5th remains in my mind to this day.

  • I remember several fine performances in London in the early 1970s, both with the Leningrad Philharmonic and with London orchestras.

  • Arvid Jansons was a frequent and a very welcome guest to Bergen Phil. in Norway up till his untimely death. I remember he conducted over a two week period both the Tsjaik. 5 and Berlioz Symph, Fantastic. I had an encounter with my little son at the time and had a swollen lip. His wife broke out some herbs and put it on my lip and I could play that evenings show. They were both wonderful people.

    • That’s a lovely story. It’s no fun playing a concert with a swollen lip!

      I have enjoyed hearing you and your recordings over the years.

      Question: is the Bergen Woodwind Quintet still active?

      • Both Gro, the flutist and Steinar, my brother retired, and the remaining group did not want to go through the ordeal of breaking in two new members. We had lots of fun over the 35 years we enjoyed making music together.

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