8 years ago

Volume 12 - Issue 3 - November 2006

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The late Karl Bohm was

The late Karl Bohm was long associated withthe Vienna Philhannonic Orchestra and happilyleft us many fine audio discs and now, as Unite! 'senormous catalogue oflive video perfonnancesis gradually becoming available on DVD, we willbe seeing more of Doctor Karl. DeutscheGrammophon has recently issued three DVDscontaining 13 Mozart symphonies, together witha few bonus items. Today it seems fashionable toplay down the elegance and humanity in Mozart'swriting in favour of streamlined precision,as ifmaking music were a mathematicalexercise. Bohm was of the old school butthere is nothing for today's viewers to fault inthe conductor's sensitivity to every nuance ofthe scores he knew so well or the orchestra'seminently polished perfonnances.These concerts which took place in Vienna'sMusikvereinssaal from 1969 to 1978 are in theregular TV picture ratio of 4:3 and while not inhigh definition are more than acceptable, even ona60 11 set. Surround sound adds a pleasant hallambience. Volume 1 (440 0734131) containssymphonies No. 29, 34, 35 , 40, and 41 , with theMinuet in C major, K.409. Volwne 2 (4400734132)contains the symphonies No. I (K.16),25, 31 , 36, and 38, together withEine KleineNachtmusik. Volume 3 (440 0734133) containssymphonies No.28, 33 and 39, and the Serena/aNollurna, K.239.From June 1973 Bohrn conducts an outstandingperfonnance of Schubert's Ninth, again withthe Vienna Philhannonic (EuroArts 2072108).The perfonnance is sumptuous;with Bohrn'sthrusting vitality there is never a dull moment.The picture quality of this Unite] production is asgood as any MGM production. The surroundsound, too, is full bodied, dynamic and completesan exemplary marriage of sight and sound. Onthe same disc is the Schubert Mass No.6, D950with soloists Peter Schreier, Werner Krenn andWalter Berry, The Vienna Sangerknaben, withthe Men's choir and orchestra of the Hofmuskkapellein Vienna. Recorded in the Hofburgkapelle,Bohrn conducts with gentle authorityand the eloquence and dedication of all concernedhold one's attention from the Kyrie to theclosingAgnus Dei. It is beautifully photographedand excellently recorded. This is a definitiveSchubert disc ifthere ever was one; certainly anessential cornerstone for even a modest collection.Another BohJn/Vienna Philhannonic DVDfrom EuroArts features one of the greatest pianistsofan earlier generation, Wilhelm Backhaus,playing the Beethoven Fourth Piano Conce1to(2072058). A perfect match of repertoire, soloistsand conductor makes this a valuable historicdocument. But with a difference: the video is extremelyfine, almost HDTV in definition, the coloursare full bodied, and the sound is crystalclear. The quality is probably due to the venue forthis production which was not in the Musikvereinbut made under ideal conditions in the StudioRosenhugel in Vienna. On the same disc is a satisfyinglyenergetic Brahms Second SymphonyOLD WINE IN NEW BOTTLESFine Old Recordings Re-Released by Bruce Surteesfrom the Musik-verein in 1970. The performanceis a very vigorous one with Dr. Karl moreanimated than usual, cutting and thrusting withauthority. However, there is an aspect of the productionwhich may be disconcerting to someviewers while others may not notice. The finishedproduct was assembled from several evenings'perfonnances and one sees that while the playingis perfectly in sync, sometimes they are a littleahead or behind of the video selected for shots ofthe conductor. No big deal.Leonard Bernstein was no stranger to the ViennaPhilhannonic and his CDs and DVDs withthem continue to find favour with critics and musiclovers around the world. DG has issued theSixth and Ninth symphonies by Shostakovich(440 073 4170). The Sixth is not the most popularof the symphonies, overshadowed by theenormously popular Fifth. But the opening movementof the Sixth is a 22 minute Largo which onemight justifiably claim to be of'heavenly length'.In addition to fervent perfonnances of the twosymphonies, Bernstein talks about each work,drawing the viewer's attention to significant passages,which certainly enhances a re-hearing.Incidentally, the production is directed by HwnphreyBurton, as usual a guarantee of excellentcamera work. Bernstein's last concerts with theVienna Philharmonic were from February 26through March 2 1990. From those concertsEuroArts has released theBruckner Ninth Symphony(2072018). Bernstein recordedonly two Brucknerworks, the Sixth and NinthSymphonies with the NewYork Philhannonic for Columbiaand another NinthSymphony on DG with the Vienna Philhannonictaken from these very same concerts. Bernsteinwould die a little over seven months later andalthough the distension of his chest due to hisacute emphysema can be clearly noticed, he wasstill in top form and conducted with his usual passionateene1gy. The performance has manyBernstein touches ... little retards, elongated passages,or notes held a little longer than usual. Thesecond movement is unforgettable: the openingscherzo is a totally unexpected powerhouse,played with grim detennination leading to a fleetfootedtrio and returning to the scherzo, now apositive juggernaut. Under Bernstein's baton,the final movement of Bruckner's unfinishedsymphony becomes a moving apotheosis andhomage to the composer. No complaints hereabout Humphrey Burton's direction or thesound of this great orchestra. This is a pricelessdocument of an appropriate and trulymoving farewell to the orchestra with whomhe had made such great music.·---j't----- -·Travel is more than just A to B. Travel should help you hit all of life's high notes.Before the curtain rises, fall for the Pre - Theatre Express Menu at Tundra ,steps aw'D' from Toronto's opera house and entertainment district.Award-winning cuisine & wine awa it from 5 to 10:30 pm daiJy.Cocktails & tapas in Tundra Bar until 11:30 pm daily.For reservations call (416) 860- 6800®.HiltonTorontoTravel should take you p laces·"TUNDRA145 Richmond Street West, Toronto, Ontario M5H 2L2 Tel : (416) 869-3456 • Fax: (416) 869 -3187WWW. THEWHOLEN OTE .COM

DISCS OF THE MONTHYou Ask Me Why ... Tova sings BeyleTheresa TovaIndependent TE003Pashtes/Simplicity - Music to the Poetryof Simcha SimchovitchLenka Lichtenberg & Brian KatzSunflower Records/lndie Pool(www Autumnal season has brought the releaseof two deliciously melancholy like-spiritedrecordings, perfect for listening during theseincreasingly chilly nights. The first is multitalenteddiva Teresa Tova's musical homageto the noted 20th Century Yiddish composer,Beyle Schaechter-Gottseman, entitled "YouAsk Me Why -Tova Sings Beyle". Second isinternational Yiddish vocalist Lenka Lichtenbergand acoustic guitarist Brian Katz' "Pashtes/Simplicity- Music to the Poetry ofSimcha Simchovitch". Both recordings boastan "A-List" of guest artists, and in the caseof "You Ask Me Why", also the prodigiousproducing talents of the gifted John Alcorn.The Yiddish language dates back to the10th Century, and is a non-territorial dialecticform of German that is written in Hebraiccharacters . It is commonly spoken amongJewish peoples of Ashkenazi or Europeandescent. Although for many baby-boomers ofJewish descent, the language of the old countrywasn't passed down with any kind offluency, Yiddish language, literature, musicand visual arts are currently enjoying a massiveglobal renaissance, and both recordingshave contemporized traditional Yiddish formswith intriguing, surprising and deeply meaningfulresults."You Ask Me Why" has a strong andevocative jazz sensibility that is a perfectsetting for Theresa Tova's smoky contralto.Producer Alcorn (with help from Matt Herskowitz)has managed to squeeze just aboutevery possibility and nuance out of the simplemelodies. Notable are John MacLeod'sprovocative muted trumpet solo on The WinterEvening/Vinter-Ount juxtaposed againstMatt Herskowitz' sparse and harmonicallydissonant piano phrases that call to mind theThe World's Leading Classical Music Label!111111illIll111111111111111nm nm nm nm nmNAXOS1111111111 111111111111111OF CANADA LTD• Over 3, 000 titles• All digital recordings• New recordings and compositions monthly• Critical acclaim in a ll key classical publications• Featuring great Canadian artistsAll this at an astonishingly low price!..,!Ir ,.., I U..11-'. I•: HJ.S. Boch: Brandenburg ConcertosSwiss Baroque SoloistsAndres Gabetta, conductor8557755-56. 1.U!1 1'C41Vll' IJ1i1 .. a....r ... 1- .. 1,,...,...,Dmitry Shostakovich:Violin Sonata • Cello SonataDmitry Yablonsky, cello/conductorMaxim Fedotov, violinRussian PO 8557722Arnold Bax: Violin Sonatas Nos. 1&3Laurence Jackson, violinAshley Wass, piano855754031 \ \.!1 I" '11llR(HmRESVMPHO [QUEDE lllDNTR~ALr'rK'

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