My first encounter with Berg’s Three Pieces for OrchestraOp. 6 was many years ago, in a lecture/concert given by Pierre Boulez conducting the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the BBC’s Maida Vale studios. And indeed, I still have a high regard for the same performers’ 1986 CBS recording, as I do for the extraordinary account of Berg’s Violin Concerto “To the Memory of an Angel” on the same album, with Pinchas Zukerman as soloist and Boulez this time conducting the London Symphony Orchestra.

San Francisco Symphony

But as far as the Violin Concerto goes, these days I’ve been more inclined to reach for Isabelle Faust with Orchestra Mozart under Abbado (Harmonia Mundi). Faust’s command not just of the musical language but of a vast array of colouristic effects underpinned by faultless intonation is hard to beat.

This new release by San Francisco Symphony under its musical director laureate and conductor Michael Tilson Thomas offers not just fine accounts of the Violin Concerto (with Gil Shaham as soloist) and Three Pieces for Orchestrabut Berg’s lushly romantic Seven Early Songs(with soloist...

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