Despite his early promise, and tons of favorable publicity, slatkin has failed to grow as a conductor and now barely hangs on to an international career. With that disclaimer out of the way, I'm heartened to see that the Detroit Sym., once so beloved by audiophiles for their groundbreaking early stereo recordings on Mercury, has found another home for recordings. Naxos is doing well by several regional American orchestras like Nashville, Buffalo, and now Detroit. Of the three, this is the one with the big sound and (almost) undiminished reputation. Naxos has recorded them vividly; the ensemble seems to be in fine shape after Neeme Jarvi's regime, so what about the actual performance?
No doubt the Russians own this music, and there are superlative versions from Jansons, Temirkanov and Byhkov that Slatkin cannot compete with for authority and power, not to mention a classic Previn reading from 1972 with the London Sym. in top form (EMI). It's a relief to report, however, that he's in good form himself and gets the orchestra to deliver a lyrical, flexible reading that's far from routine or dull. As is often the rule, the recording originates from a live concert, in the fall of 2009. The audience is all but noiseless, the performance proceeds without fluffs. I'd wish for more passion and intensity, and the lush Adagio is a bit chaste, but still, this is a very encouraging beginning to the relationship between orchestra and conductor -- at tis price, in such vibrant sound, it's heartily recommended.