I remember as yesterday my first substantial introduction to the art of Colin Davis. The cycle of Sibelius Symphonies he recorded with the Boston Symphony Orchestra was outstanding, enhanced further by the art work, drawn from the paintings of Edvard Munch. The music world reacted much as I had, declaring Sir Colin an authoritative interpreter of Sibelius. He came back to the cycle at least twice afterwards, making studio recordings with the London Symphony Orchestra and then a cycle of concert recordings with the LSO.
But then there was Colin Davis, the masterful interpreter of Mozart. Who can forget the great Mozart collaborations between Davis and pianist Alicia Delarrocha? Throw into the blend the playing of the English Chamber Orchestra and more often than not there was magic. Davis also conducted many masterful recordings of Mozart's operas, often with the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.
And what about Berlioz? Colin Davis deserved his reputation as one of the great performers of Berlioz' music, both his operas and his several purely orchestral scores. It's difficult to imagine a more authoritative "Les Troyens" than that first recording of the complete opera made in 1970 by Davis and the Royal Opera House. As with the Sibelius scores, Davis revised his Berlioz work later with live recordings in the LSO Live series.
It is easy to go on and on in praise of Sir Colin Davis. He deserved every bit of it and we are surely right in mourning his death this Sunday afternoon, April 14. Davis was 85. Rest in peace, Maestro. Click here for the London Symphony Orchestra's announcement of Davis' death.