7 years ago

Volume 11 Issue 4 - December 2005

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OLD WINE, NEW BOTTLES: Fine Old Recordings Re-Released The Nine Symphonies of Gustav Mahler played by the Vienna Philharmonic conducted by Leonard Bernstein will be available on DVD from Deutsche Grammophon on December 6th [440 0734088]. These are the same in-concert performances [the second is with the London Symphony from Ely Cathedral] issued on laser disc a generation ago. Documented between 1971 and 1976 these are the mature realizations of Mahler from a conductor who believed he wore Mahler's shoes and who passionately championed the composer throughout his professional career. Included in the 9 DVD package is Das Lied von der Erde with the Israel Philharmonic, Christa Ludwig and Rene Kol lo live from May 1973. Now in 5: I surround sound and improved video quality, the package also includes a bonus DVD, not available separately, of rehearsal sequences of the Fifth, Ninth, and Das Lied together with appreciations by Bernstein. By any criteria, these unique documents should be a cornerstone of any music-lover's library. Once seen, the terrifying production of Richard Strauss 's Elektra conducted by Karl Bohm and directed by Gotz Friedrich cannot be forgotten. The 1981 production has Astrid Varnay as Klytamnestra, with Leonie Rysanek, Dietrich Fischer­ Dieskau, and Catarina Ligendza. It returns on DVD from DG in surround sound plus a bonus disc featuring all concerned in an absorbing 92 minute documentary of the rehearsals and preparations for fi !ming the production. Given its pedigree, it is unlikely that this production could ever be equaled [440 0734095]. IO significant titles from the Masterworks catalogue to the Sony/BMG Classic Library series. All are newly reprocessed to contemporary standards using Sony's DSD technology. Returned to active duty are Gary Graffman playing the three piano concertos by Tchaikovsky, Pictures at an Exhibition, and lslamey [S2 K94 737]; Bartok 's Concerto for Orchestra with Ormandy [SK94726]; the two Liszt concertos and the Sonata in B minor with Emanuel Ax [SK94746]; Beethoven 's Ninth from Cleveland with Maazel, Popp, Obraztsova, Vickers and Tai vela [SK94745]; the Schubert Impromptus, etc. with Murray Perahia [SK94732]; the Shostakovich Fifth with Bernstein, live in Tokyo [SK94733]; The Firebird ( 1910) version, Pu/cine/la, and more, with Pierre Boulez [SK94736]; Ives Second Symphony, etc. with Bernstein [SK94731]; Richard Strauss 's Don Quixote with Ozawa and Yo-Yo from Boston [SK94735]; and Barber's Adagio for Strings, Dover Beach, etc. with Schippers, Ormandy, [SK94739]. Fischer-Dieskau's admirers should look for the 11 CD Orfeo set of live Salzburg Festival recitals from 1956-1965 [339050T]. Accompanied by Gerald Moore, there are song cycles and lieder by Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Wolf, Busoni, Pfitzner, Richard Strauss, and Beethoven. Fischer-Dieskau was untouchable during those years and the master tapes from Austrian Radio were remastered for this edition. Peak Records has produced a new recording of Vince Guaraldi 's A Charlie Brown Christmas, one of the nicest, most enchanting little albums around. The soundtrack of the 1965 CBS Peanuts special is as fresh as ever but this new, overblown, tasteless effort is a travesty. If you don't have the original, go out right now and get a copy [Fantasy 8431]. Grigory Sokolov was the First Sony Classical Prize winner of has introduced the third Tchaikovsky I nterna- · t".: ' ! ', r • tional Piano 1 ·-· Competition in Moscow in 1966. Since then he has concertised selectively and remains the jealous possession of the inner circle of piano fanatics. His is a mighty talent, as those who have heard him in person know. Nai"ve Classics has put together a package of four remarkable recordings; Bach's Art of the Fugue; two Beethoven sonatas, numbers 4 and 28 plus three little rondos; Chopin 's 24 Preludes; and Brahms F minor sonata and the Ballades, opus I 0. Such flawless artistry is very rare indeed and to bring these electrifying performances into one's living room is even rarer. Superlatively recorded, the discs are available separately but the boxed set really is a must [OP30421]. Included in EMl's recent batch of Great Recordings of the Century is a disc of Sibelius tone poems ~ 84 WWW. TH EWHOLENOTE.COM '-:~· .,. .. """'' . u, .. .........•.· . · .- .•. · ·-·. -.~ii i.i: ,· .. r .·"' - .1 -. :-'i;; .1. .: with von Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic. Powerhouse, over-thetop performances of Finlandia, En Saga, and the Karelia Suite put a lie to the derogatory post-mortem 'Karajan smoothed everything out' generalization. The Swan ofTuonela and Valse Triste, however, are nobly limpid but not flaccid [72434 7684 72]. The Fourth and Fifth Beethoven concertos by Emil Gilels with Leopold Ludwig and the Philharmonia from 1957 defines the greatness of the late Russian pianist in his prime [72434 768292]. Violinist Ginette Neveu (1919-1949) was that good, as her honoured recordings of the concertos of Brahms with Dobrowen and Sibelius with Susskind attest. Recorded in 1946 and 1945 respectively the admirable 2005 remasterings are full and graphic [72434 768312]. In 1949/50 Rosalyn Tureck ( 1914-2003) recorded The Six Bach Partitas BWV 825-830 for A II egro Mu- ll'i!f::'ll~!!f sic. I had not heard these recordings until they appeared recently on Doremi [DHR-7826/7]. That they are not played on harpsichord means nothing in this case, because Tureck 's qua! ities of touch and sound production are such that she produces sounds that only harpsichordists can achieve. Comparisons with modern pianists, such as Angela Hewitt, confirm that Tureck is superior in balance of the voices and precision of touch and timing. Sound is crisp and clear serving the performances well. Chilean pianist Claudio Arrau ( 1903- 1991) had a performing career beginning in 1908, continuing into the late 1980s. Admittedly he slowed down towards the end but in 1943, 194 7 and 1951 when he played the Liszt no.2 with Mitropoulos, the Weber Konzertstiick with Erich Kleiber, and the Schumann with Victor de Sabata, his technique was dazzling. He took chances and this was, as the notes say "a time oftlashing fingers and an unapologetic virtuoso fire that could ignite and engulf every page." The sound is quite good, much better than would expect, given the dates [Music and Arts CDll74]. Good news for the Stan Kenton big band fans: Capitol has two new CDs: "Viva Kenton" recorded in New York in 1959 with six additional tracks from Los Angeles in 1963 [72435 60444] and "The Stage Door Swings", recorded in New York in 1958 [72434 77551]. The Viva album has Kenton standards with a Latin-American flavour while Stage Door album contains 12 show tunes of the day arranged by Lennie Niehaus. I enjoyed these two discs immensely and if you are Kenton disciple such as I, don' t be bashful about it. I have a photograph on my wall of Herbert von Karajan at a Kenton concert. Bruce Surtees r11,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, I , : 314 Churchill Ave I I Toronto. Ontario : I M2R 1 E7 Canada f : Tel : 416-224-1956 I I Fax: 416-224-2964 : ; MIKROKOSMOS , ; ; ' I , : We buy your : ; , : classical LP : ; , : collection : I ' , (classical, such as Beethoven, Mozart, ; I Stockhausen) ; , ~ , , we travel anywhere : : for good collections ~ ~ , #11,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,~ D ECEMBER 1 200 5 - F EBR UARY 7 2006

RUSSELL WATSON Amore Musica THE VOICE RETURNS! "The People's Tenor" is back with his fourth album of arias and love songs. ., "All the songs are about love, music, peace, happiness and hope ... It's a record to hold hands to ... It's a different sound ... It's about Russell Watson singing from the heart and I don't think I've ever done that before." - RUSSELL WATSON Renee Fleming has recorded sublimely beautiful and poignant interpretations of the best loved sacred arias, along with some less well known 20th Century compositions, which may become new classics of the genre. Renee Fleming has unquestionably become the most celebrated soprano of her day.

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