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Ultrarunner (Perth-West Australia)

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Rameau - First Recordings, Complete Recordings & Masterpieces
Rameau - First Recordings, Complete Recordings & Masterpieces
Offered by Music-Shop
Price: £11.98

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For those who like Baroque Music., 26 Jun. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Rameau (1683-1764) was 50 when he wrote his first opera Hippolyte et Aricie in 5 acts and a prologue, based upon Racine's tragedy Phedre. It was performed at the Paris opera in 1733.(Excerpts from the opera in this set). Rameau then spent the rest of his working life producing operas. In these he stressed musical elements more than Lully had done, stating "Lully needs actors but I need singers". A comic opera Platee (in this set) was successful when performed at the Paris Opera in 1745, in part because it parodied the set language and conventions of serious music. Platee is the curious tale of a marsh nymph who is the butt of cruel jokes played on her by the gods, this comedie-lyrique is imbued with the best in Rameau's vocal scorings and instrumental music.

Through these historical recordings, you hear how these pioneers brought back this forgotten music to the public and how it eventually developed into the Authentic instrument movement. A necessary box set for those who are interested in early music.

Produced by Intense media (Membran), the box set has no libretto's, CD Rom or booklet, so I shall produce one. The sound is ADD. According to EMI, "Analogue tape recorder used during session recording, digital tape recorder used during subsequent mixing &/ or editing and during mastering (transcription). The sound is good, however the 1942 recording conducted by Maurice Hewitt is what we expect of a recording of that era, but has no clicks and the hiss downplayed. The box is the usual size for a set of this nature. The sleeve's front has a large CD number on a white background, also, some have a small version of the original LP cover in the corner. On the back the music, track numbers and who is playing or directing. The CD is black with CD number and wording in white.

RAMEAU PIANO PIECES: Premier Livre de Pieces de clavecin. Suite en mi mineur/in E minor. Pieces en Concert. Nouvelle Suites de Pieces de Clavecin in A minor. Suite in D major. Suite in G minor. Piano Marcelle Meyer. Recorded in 1953.

Meyer (1897-1958) was a pianists pianist . She was without doubt one of the most important pianists of the 20th century. She was a Woman of tremendous influence, the favourite of Les Six. She played the private premiere of La Valse with Ravel at the other piano, and worked with Debussy himself on his Preludes and gave the first ever all Debussy recital. Milhaud and Poulenc were among the many other composers who respected her and with whom she performed. She entered the Paris Conservatoire at the age of 14 and studied with Alfred Cortot and Marguerite Long, and also with Ravel and Vines. She was the first to record the keyboard music of Rameau.

Jed Distler of Classics Today states "the legendary French pianist Marcelle Meyer's 1953 cycle of Rameau's keyboard music is a milestone of the piano discography. Her instinctive sense of style, gorgeous phrasing, impeccable diction, ear tickling ornaments of sonorities and multi-coloured Palette enliven and communicate this music as few other keyboardists and Harpsichordists alike. No serious piano library is complete without Meyer's captivating and utterly genius Rameau interpretation." Brilliant rendition-T.

PLATEE: A opera with a prologue and in 3 Acts. Complete. Recorded in 1956. Janine Micheau. Nadine Sautereau. Christiane Castelli. Monique Linval. Michel Senechal. Nicolai Gedda. Jacques Jansen. Huc Santana. Jean Benoit. Robert Tropin. Choir du Festival d'Aix-en-Province; Orchestre de la Societe des Concerts du Conservatoire. Conductor Hans Rosbaud.

The conductor Hans Rosbaud (1895-1962) championed modern as well as earlier music. He recorded Gluck's Orphee and Rameau's Platee. Rosbaud was a prime mover in the establishment of the Aix-en-Province Festival from 1948-1959. Paris-March in November 1954 stated "It is said that music buffs believe the greatest living conductor is Toscanini, musicians know that it is Hans Rosbaud."

HIPPOLYTE et ARICIE Tragedie-Lyrique in 5 Acts and a Prologue. Recorded 1950. First recording/excerpts from Act 3, 4 & 5. Claudine Verneuil, Genevieve Moizan, Flore Wend,. Choir and Orchestra National de la Radiodiffusion francaise. conductor Roger Desormiere.

Desormiere (1898-1963) edited and performed early music, reviving mostly forgotten compositions of the likes of Francois Couperin and Jean-Phillipe Rameau.

LES INDES GALANTES-Ballet Heroique. Le Turc Genereux. Les Incas du Perou. Les Sauvages. Recorded in 1942. Irene Joachim. Camille Maurane. Raymond Malvasio. La Chorale Yvonne Gouverne. L' ensemble Orchestral Hewitt. Conductor Maurice Hewitt.

The ballet Heroque Les Indes gelantes was recorded in 1942-1943, shortly before the Nazi's realized recordings such as these were acts of cultural defiance and had them stopped. The two primary vocalists are Irene Joachim, strong, clear and cold, very much in what the French regarded at the time as the Classical manner and Camille Maurane a Baryton martin(?) with a bright ring who felt more at home in the upper part of the role then the lower notes. His smooth delivery is pleasing to hear. Hewitt is stylish in the broader sense of the word, with a feeling for rhythms, tempo and expression.

Hewitt (1884-1973) made numerous pioneering recordings. He was also part of the Buckmaster network in the French Resistance, denounced in 1943, and sent to Buchenwald concentration camp, he started up concerts there. After Liberation he gave a famous concert of the Faure Requiem in memory of the French who had been deported and died in Germany, wearing deportee clothes when conducting.

SIX CONCERTS EN SEXTUOR: Recorded 1952. Orchestre Maurice Hewitt. Conducted Hewitt. The ensemble Orchestra Hewitt, is a string orchestra. The vibratoless sound, is a reminder that this approach to string textures did not suddenly appear with the authentic movement in the 1970's.

SECULAR CANTATAS: Diane et Acteon. L' Impatience. Recorded 1950. Hugues Cuenod,Tenor. Robert Brink, Violin. Alfred Zighera Viola la Gamba. Daniel Pinkham Harpsichord and direction. Beautiful. You would swear it was recorded by modern authentic instrument players. BONUS: recorded 1953. Rameau. Nature, amour. (castor et Pollux). Lully. Il faut passer (Alceste). Belle Hermione. (Cadmus et hermione). Gerard Souzay bartione. Orchestre de la societe des concerts du conservatoire. Louis X111 Roi de france. (1601-1643). arr L. Couperin).Recorded 1953. Chanson bougies. Gerald Souzay. bartione. Jacqueline Bonneau. Piano. Just a wonderful CD with marvellous singing by Hugues Cuenod and Souzay.

OPERA EXCERPTS CONDUCTED BY NADIA BOULANGER: Recorded 1953. Dardanus 2 Act. Introduction- Tout l'avenir est present a mes yeux. Doda Conrad. Castor et Polluce. Prolog: Minuet. Nadine Sauterau. Paul Derenne. Flore Wend. Jean Maciet. Hippolyte et Aricie 5 Act. Rossignols amoureux. Flore Wend. Dardanus 3 Act. O Jour affreux! Irma Kolassi. Les Indes Galantes (Entre 11) Clair flambeau du monde. bernard Demigny. Hippolyte et Aricie. Overture and Fanfare. O disgrace cruelle. Irma Kolassi. Ballet figure. Castor et Pollux 4 Act. Sejour de l'ternelle paix. Paul Derenne. Les Fetes d'Hebe. Volons sur les bordes de la Seine. Je Vous revoir. Nadine Sautereau. Flore Wand. Irma Kolassi. Paul Derenne. PLATEE: Prologue. Chantons Bacchus! Paul Derenne. Sautereau, Wend, Kolassi, Derenne, Maciet, Demigny, Conrad, Instrumental ensemble direction Nadia Boulanger.

NADIA BOULANGER (1887-1979). Her parents were both musicians, her father was a professor at the Paris Conservatorire. Her mother was a Russian princess who married her French father when she was 21 he 62. Nadia was born when he was 72. She achieved early honours as a student at the Paris Conservatoire. She was taught composition by Faure, but gave up composing because she thought she was no good, although Faure disagreed. Nadia became a teacher of music instead. Her sister Lilli was a composer who died March 1918 aged 25. She attended the Premiere of Stravinsky's The Firebird and she recognised his genius and they began a life long friendship. She taught many of the leading musicians and composers of the 20th century. She also performed as an organist and Pianist, also conducted many of the major orchestras in America and Europe. Nadia conducted several world premieres including works by Copland and Stravinsky. She taught Copland, Harris, John Eliot Gardiner, Elliot Carter, Dinu Lipatti, Igor Markevitch, Virgil Thomson, Daniel Barenboim and Phillip Glass. At the age of 12 she knew the whole of Bach's Well tempered clavier by heart.

I hope you enjoy this set as much as I do.

REFERENCES: Stanley, J. Classical music. 1994. Reed International Books Ltd. Wikipedia.

The Opera Recordings
The Opera Recordings
Price: £98.55

10 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This forth opera Volume of the Von Karajan series is as good as the other three., 17 Jun. 2015
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This review is from: The Opera Recordings (Audio CD)
As an experienced reviewer of box sets, I will give some examples of some of the CDs in this opera set. On the back of Pavarotti's LP sized box set, it states all "recordings newly remastered at 96kHz. 24 Bit- 2013". Pavarotti's set has Von Karajan's La Boheme and Madame Butterfly, the same recordings are in this Van Karajan opera box set. So I compared them, there is no difference to the sound. You have to look carefully but the Decca CDs on their dark blue labels, have printed Compact digital audio. All the DGG CDs on their yellow labels, have original image bit-processing, even the live ones. "DDD on some of the CD's means digital tape recorder used during session recording, mixing&/or editing and mastering (transcription). ADD. Analogue tape recorder used during session recording, digital tape recorder used during subsequent mixing &/ or editing during mastering (transcription)", (from EMI) Heard on live and stereo recordings. Also I tested Membran's Digital Audio, Von Karajan's 1938-1960 box set's Don Carlos, which is the same as this box's Don Carlos and they sound the same. I think I have solved the mystery, the sound was given a boost a number of years ago and seems to have done justice to this opera box set. Basically, one can sum up this set, that it is as good as the other three box sets. I know I own them.

The box is Cobalt blue and is square, not long as is usual. One side has details of what this 70 CD set includes, 26 operas between 1958 and 1989, in Mono, Stereo and digital. The lid covers the entire box, which is grey. Inside are four smaller open blue boxes, with the numbers on the outside, for example 1-20 etc. You can take out each box and it makes it easier to play the CDs. I have put the small boxes in a square within the large grey box. This is a first. The CD numbers are on the spine like some RCA boxes sleeves with the composer and opera. I would turn the sleeves around and have the spine facing upwards in the box, so you can obtain the sleeves easily.

Naturally, the sleeves are the originals, doubled up sleeve wise, sometimes with four compartments. You can easily retrieve the CDs from the sleeve, which has the track numbers and arias inside. The numbers are quite big on the label on the CDs. By the way, apart from DGG recordings there are those from Decca and Phillips. Decca has a dark blue label on the CD's, DGG yellow. The composer's of the operas are in Alpbetical order. You have a booklet in three languages with a essay "The opera conductor Karajan" by Jurgen Kesting. Von Karajan-a chronology. Text in English and German. Photo's in Black and white plus colour of singers and Von Karajan. Track listings and Cast, plus Index. 221 pages. This booklet sits on the CDs in the box, on top are the Facsimiles of session reports from five recordings. Merry Widow, Tosca 2nd Version, Gotterdammerung, Ballo in Maschera plus Carmen. There is a black cardboard band around them. NO libretto's or CD ROM. This is a well thought out high production box set, not only for long time collectors, but those new to Operas and want to begin to collect.

Von Karajan taught himself to conduct by listening to records by other conductors, unheard of in his day. At the age of 27 at Aachen Theatre, he was to become the youngest general manager of an opera house in all of Germany. Goering and Gobbels to keep Furtwangler under control promoted Von Karajan as das wunderkind. So for the rest of Furtwangler's life he disliked K. But the irony is, that Von Karajan stated that he learnt all he knew from Furtwangler and Toscanini, that was why he considered himself connected to Niksich, who inspired Furtwangler, Reiner, Ansermet and Monteux. Just as Bernstein did, for his teacher was Reiner.

I shall place the Opera, singers and orchestra first, then comments, and other versions of the opera you might like to hear. I shall not review all the operas as Amazon has kindly provided details, but merely give you an idea of what is in the box set.

BIZET: CARMEN.(DIGITAL)1983. Baltsa, Carreras, Riccarelli, Van Dam. Berlin Philharmonic. Von Karajan combines affection with tension and polish. He uses the Oeser edition with its extra passages and spoken dialogue, which creates a more intimate approach to the drama. Carreas is lyrical and honey toned, more the anti hero. Katia Ricciarelli's big voice is scaled down. Van Dam is virile, but Baltsa is tough and commanding. She is larger then life but is believable. I do own Bizet's Carmen recorded in 1911, featuring Marguerite Merentie conducted by Francois Ruhlmann available on Marston. Interesting. Do not expect DDD quality, after it is 1911.

GLUCK: ORFEO ED EURIDICE.(LIVE) SALZBURG.1959. Simionato, Jurinac, Sciutti. Vienna Philharmonic.The mezzo Simionato's rendition of the famous arias are beautiful and she fits well with Jurinac. I like Von Karajan live.

LEHAR: THE MERRY WIDOW.STEREO.1972 Harwood, Kollo, Kelemen, Stratas, not sparkling enough. The best of all, Schwarzkopf, Wechter, Gedda. Conducted by Matacic. The following is a brillant Bonus with this opera, VON SUPPE OVERTURES:1969. Morning, noon and night in Vienna. Light cavalry. Pique Dame. The beautiful Galatea. The Jolly Robbers. Poet and Peasant. Berlin Philharmonic.

LEONCAVALLO: I PAGLIACCI. STEREO.1965. Bergonzi, Joan Carlyle, Taddei,Panerai. La Scala, Milan Orch. Von Karajan makes you hear the music first and foremost, and that helps you understand the drama. Passions are no longer to the fore, that is why he chose the cast that he did. Bergonzi is a very sensitive tenor, Carlyle rather cool, Taddei is strong voiced. However, if you want Italian opera at its fire breathing best, Callas brings that out with her cast. But having another approach to this opera is rather a good idea. MASCAGNI: CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA. 1965. La Scala, Milan Orch. Karajan takes the composers markings literally so the melodies come out with freshness. Cossotto and Bergonzi take a pure, firm line. I have not heard this opera played like this before.

MOZART: DON GIOVANNI. DIGITAL.1985. Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. Ramey, Tomowa-Sintow. Baltsa, Battle, Winbergh. Von Karajan achieved an spontaneous result by deciding only at the last minute on each day which passages he would record. This is a performance of extremes, between slow and extremely fast speeds. Ramey is a noble Giovanni, Furlanetto's voice is quite beautiful as Leporello. Tomowa-Sintow is very animated as Donna Anna and the tone is beautiful. Donna Elivra sung by Balsa has venom and bite with a touch of sensitivity. DIE ZAUBERFLOTE: DIGITAL.1980. Berlin Philharmonic orchestra. Mathis, Ott, Araiza, Van Dam. Karajan is inspired to give one of his freshest, most rhythmic Mozart performances for DGG. He is spontaneous-sounding where vigor is prefered. Mathis has some beautiful moments, Van Dam is at his best. Do not forget the EMI 1939 Beecham recording which is a classic with Roswaenge, Lemnitz, Berger and Husch at their best.

MUSSORGSKY: BORIS GODUNOV. STEREO (arr Rimsky-Korsakov) 1970. Ghiaurov, Vishnevskaya, Spiess, Talvela. Vienna State opera. With Ghiaurov in the title role Karajan came very close to conveying the rugged greatness of Mussorgsky's masterpiece. This recording is rated very highly.

PUCCINI: LA BOHEME. STEREO. 1972. Freni, Pavarotti, Harwood, Panerai & Ghiaurov. Berlin Philharmonic orchestra. There is an electric intensity like in a live performance. Pavarotti is at his inspired best, Freni, who grew up with Pavarotti, her voice is beautiful and fits the part of Mimi and Harwood makes Musetta stand out. It is considered one of the best La Boheme's along with Beecham's, which features Victoria de los Angeles and Jussi Bjorling.

TOSCA:(1st version) STEREO. 1962. Price, Taddei, di Stefano. Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. It is a very fine version. I remember it in the LP days when it was in a red box with a large booklet. Price is at her peak with her distinctive dusky voice and Di Stefano sings sensitively. Taddei is very good as Scarpia. There is Callas, Di Stefano and Gobbi, La Scala, Milan, Cond de Sabata one of the greatest recordings of this opera. TOSCA: (2nd Version) STEREO.1979. Berlin Phlharmonic orchestra. Riccarelli, Carreras and Raimondi. In this version, Scarpia is the central character, and for this reason Von Karajan chose a bass Raimondi, and shows us why, this is no villian, but there is nobility in him. Ricciarelli singing is beautiful, Carreras gives a distinguished performance.

PUCCINI: MADAME BUTTERFLY:STEREO.1974. Freni, Pavorotti, Ludwig, Kerns. Vienna Philharmonic. Von Karajan brings out all the beauty and intensity of Puccini's score, sweet and dramatic. Freni grows from the young girl to the tragedy that enfolds. Pavarotti is imaginative in his part as Pinkerton and creates an understanding of this complex character. Ludwig is an excellent Suzuki. Von Karajan makes you hear this opera anew. Although this is a good Butterfly, I have liked Victoria de los Angeles's first recording of this opera which was recorded in 1954. Her tone is more beautiful then the 1960 recording made with Bjorling. In the 1954 version she is accompanied with Di Stefano who is very ardent as Pinkerton and Gobbi.

TURANDOT: DIGITAL.1981. Ricciarelli,Domingo, Hendricks, Raimondi. Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. Hendricks has a sexy voice so you wonder how Calaf would have overlooked her. She is far from a chaste Slave. Ricciarelli is not a icy princess and is very vulnerable. No Nilsson is she. Domingo is well, Domingo, with his stunning voice. I own Turandot recorded in 1938 conducted by Ghione, with Gina Cigna taught by Emma Calve, with Francesco Merli and Magda Olivero, one of the great Spinto singers, who sung Tosca at the age of 65 at the Met.

JOHANN STRAUSS: DIE FLEDERMAUS.STEREO.1960. Kmentt, Gueden, Koth, Berry, Wachter, Resnik, Kunz. Vienna Philharmonic. This opera has all the sparkle it requires. The singers are good. Also, included is the star studded cast for the gala.Act 2. Tebaldi, Corena, Nilsson (I could have danced all night) Mario del Monaco, Berganza, Sutherland, Bjorling (Dein ist mein ganzes Herz). Leontyne Price. Summertime. Simionato and Bastianini ( anything you can do, I can do better. Yes I can...No you can't) Ljuba Welitsch. Wien, Wein, nur du allein.

RICHARD STRAUSS: DER ROSENKAVALIER.(1st version) LIVE.1960.SALZBURG.MONO. Della Casa, Jurinac, Gueden, Edelmann and Kunz. Vienna Philhamonic. This is one of the great Der Rosenkavaliers, which Della Casa made her own, so with Jurinac and Gueden you have a dream cast. But the 1956 version with Schwarzkopf is still is one of the great recordings conducted by Von Karajan. DER ROSENKAVALIER:(2nd Version) DIGITAL.1982. Tomowa-Sintow, Moll, Baltsa, Perry. Vienna Phil. A very different and beautiful look at this well known opera. The singers are suited to their parts. The DVD of this opera. Gwyneth Jones, Jungwirth, Fassbaebder, Lucia Popp. Bayerisches Staatsorchester Conducted by Carlos Kleiber. This DVD is considered a classic and is traditional.

VERDI: IL TROVATORE: LIVE. MONO. 1962.SALZBURG. Corelli, Price, Simonato, Bastianini. Vienna Philharmonic. Well worth listening to. Price and Corelli at their peak, more like an ensemble of old. In this opera, Caruso stated you require four of the best singers, and in the early 1960's these singers were amongst the best. UN BALLO IN MASCHERA. DIGITAL.1989. Barstow, Domingo, Nucci, Sumi Jo. Vienna Philharmonic. Quick tempi. Barstow has a voice that is instantly recognised. Domingo is his usual passionate self. This was Von Karajan's last recording before he died. Made in January February 1989. So he did not conduct the stage production which was taken over by Solti at the last moment. I have the DVD of this Solti production.

DON CARLOS: LIVE. MONO. 1958.SALZBURG. Siepi, Fernandi, Bastianini, Zaccaria, Jurinac, Simionato. Recorded in 1958. Fernardi is an underrated tenor. These are singers who understand each other for they have sung together many times. Live is a very good way to hear Von Karajan. Another great version of this opera is in the box set, Great Performances at Covent Garden 1955-1997. Remastered 2006-2010. Released 2014 Vickers, Gobbi, Brouwenstijn, Christoff and Barbieri. Cond Giulini. Rated a classic.

AIDA: STEREO.1959. Tebaldi, Simionato, Bergonzi and Macneil. Vienna Philharmonic. Penguin guide 1977 states "This is one of those almost ideal gramophone performances: the more you hear it the more satisfying it becomes, largely because it lays stress all the time on the musical values, if necessary at the expense of the dramatic ones". This is the first staged Stereo recording by John Culshaw. Bergonzi emerges as a prince amongst tenors for his attention to detail. Tebaldi's interpretation of the part of Aida is well loved. Her creamy tone rides over most of the difficulties. Van Karajan's concept of the music is swifter then you may think.

Recorded in 1928, Aida, Orch La Scala, Milan, was conducted by Carlo Sabajno. Pertile, Toscanini's favourite tenor, Dusolina Giannini, an American born of Italian parents, Irene Minghini-Cattaneo and Giovanni Ingeilleri. This Aida was considered very highly in 1930, for it was the sort of opera you could hear at a gala performance, because of its great cast. Phonographe.

OTELLO: STEREO.1961. Tebaldi, Del Monaco. Vienna Philharmonic. Del Monaco is gloriously heroic and this is one of his finest collaborations with Tebaldi. John Culshaw created a sonic stage with this recording. One of the best recordings of this opera is conducted by Serafin with Vickers, Gobbi and Rysanek. There is a Naxos recording that is rated very highly, recorded in 1938. Martinelli, Rethberg and Tibbett. Met Orchestra cond Panizza.

WAGNER: RING CYCLE.STEREO.1966-1969. Veasey, Fischer-Dieskau, Stolze, Kelemen, Dernesch, Jess Thomas, Stewart, Regine Crespin, Janowitz, Jon Vickers, Talvela, Brilioth, Ludwig and Ridderbusch. Berlin Philharmonic orchestra. Von Karajan brings a clarity to this music, but provides energy when required. More an emotional and melodic view, rather then a Solti view of Wagner. This is why he has chosen singers with an emotional edge like Dernesch, Crespin, Vickers, Janowitz and Stewart. One only has to hear the sheer beauty of Winterstrume wichen dem wonnemond sung by Vickers, singing with Janowitz, one of the best Sieglinde's on record since Lotte Lehmann, to understand this conductor's concept of this Ring. Here Van Karajan builds up the tension slowly until the end when it reaches a quick climax. However, there are changes in this Ring cycle. Crespin in the Walkure for Dernesch, in Siegfried and Gotterdammerung as Brunnhilde. Jess Thomas in Siegfried changed for Brilioth in Gotterdammerung.

A few suggestions: The Classic 1962 Die Walkure conducted by Leinsdorf, with Ward, Nilsson, Brouwenstijn and London. In the big black box Von Karajan 1938-1960 117 CDs, released by Membran are the following, Wagner Die Walkure Von Karajan Cond La Scala, Milan 1958, Live. With Suthaus, Frick, Hotter, Rysanek, Nilsson, Madeira. Siegfried, Bayreuth Festival Orchestra 1951. With Bernd Aldenhoff, a true Heldentenor, Kuen, Sigurd Bjorling, Lipp, Astrid Varnay. Marvellous.

So what do I make of Von Karajan's Ring cycle? He certainly creates a Ring that brings to the forefront the beauty of the music, and another point of view, but I dispute the view that it is like chamber music in some parts. So lets see how he compares with the Rings I own. Solti, Bohm, Janowski, Boulez, Furtwangler's Rome cycle, the two cycles of the 1955 Ring cycle at Bayreuth conducted by Keilberth, one with Varnay, the other with Modl and Furtwangler's La Scala Ring with Flagstad and Lorenz. And I like all of them, but if I was to pick one it would be the 1955 second cycle with Modl and the second, the Rome Furtwangler cycle. Also, the old testament of the Ring cycle, recorded 1926-1932 Vol 1 and 2 released by Gala. conducted by Coates and Blech, with Leider, Melchior, Easton, Schorr, Austral, Widdop. So in my opinion, Van Karajan would fit alongside the more modern Solti and Bohm, but each are different in their approach. Karajan's version would be a balance to the other two. I came to this Ring cycle via this box set, after many years of listening to different Ring cycles and seeing Solti conducting it at Covent Garden and hearing Boulez's Ring live at Bayreuth. I am glad I did, for when I was much younger, I would not have appreciated this cycle. This is merely an opinion, but this is one of the great modern Ring cycles around with great sound.

Another suggestion, Membran's 10 CD set Great singers sing Wagner. 1920's to 1930's and a few from 1940 and early 1950's. Very cheap and should be in every Wagner fan's collection.

PARSIVAL.DIGITAL. 1980. Berlin Philharmonic Orch. Hofmann, Van Dam, Moll, Vejzovic, Nimsgern. Penguin 1993 guide considers it a beautiful set and has given the recording a rosette for excellence. Although it has been doubted that a studio recording could ever match in spiritual intensity earlier ones made on the stage at Bayreuth, Karajan proves otherwise, his meditation the more intense because digital sound allows total silences. However, I do not think it reaches the heights of the 1962 Phillips live recording with Jess Thomas and Hans Hotter, conducted by Hans Knappertsbusch at Bayreuth. But this view is a matter of opinion, for music is a subjective art form.

BONUS: HAYDN: MONO. 1965. SALZBURG. Die Schopfung. Salzburg. Janowitz, Wunderlich, Prey, Vienna Philharmonic.

Enjoy this great box set.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 19, 2015 4:09 AM BST

Prokofiev:War And Peace [Yelena Prochina; Irina Bogachova; Alexander Gergalov; Nicolai Okhotnikov; Gegam Grigorian; Olga Borodina] [ARTHAUS: BLU RAY] [Blu-ray] [2015]
Prokofiev:War And Peace [Yelena Prochina; Irina Bogachova; Alexander Gergalov; Nicolai Okhotnikov; Gegam Grigorian; Olga Borodina] [ARTHAUS: BLU RAY] [Blu-ray] [2015]
Dvd ~ Graham Vick
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £12.59

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This opera is Prokofiev at his tuneful best, with a great cast and conductor., 10 Jun. 2015
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Not many contemporary composers wrote music which is instantly recognised as Prokofiev(1895-1953). For example, one has only to listen to his ballet music for Romeo and Juliet and his seven symphonies, especially the 5th to come to this conclusion. However, the Nazi's 1941 invasion of Russia inspired Prokofiev to turn Tolstoy's War and Peace into an opera, which was composed very quickly between 15th August 1941 and 13th April 1942. His wife Mira Mendelson, a literary scholar and linguist wrote the libretto in prose, much of which was taken from Tolstoy's book. The many events in the book are reduced to a small number of central episodes in this opera. Which contains some of the composer's most beautiful music. The opera is highly imaginative and traditional in its staging as well.

There are five versions and his final thoughts were represented in the 1958 published score. So the composer was constantly rewriting this opera until the end of his life. The opera is in 13 scenes is intended for performance over two consecutive nights, which happens with this production. Six scenes are called peace, the remaining seven scenes are of the war. The composer explains "I wanted to depict the main characters peaceful life, their sighs and tears, their thoughts and dreams". The libretto is written so the foreboding of war grows gradually stronger from the first to the seventh scene. The peaceful life is interrupted by Napoleonic invasion. Beginning with the seventh scene, interest is focused on the Russian Peoples struggle, their sufferings, courage and victory over the invaders. One of the outstanding qualities of Prokofiev's score is this gift for sharp character delineations. They have their own defined idiom, also to distinguish between the social classes to which they belong.

The stage Director Graham Vick uses a stylised set that only hints at the setting for each tableau and makes use of lighting which creates the mood of the scene, also highly flexible wall and floor elements. His scenery does not overwhelm the singers. At the opening, the overture, a tree on a backdrop sprouts leaves and at the ending of the opera as well. From scene one to four the tree is placed on buildings, or behind the scenery has no leaves. A symbol of what is to come. The costumes are highly traditional which gives you a sense of time and place 1806- 1812. Gergiev's conducting of the orchestra and chorus of the Mariinsky theatre, is impressive with urgent tempi when required, bringing out the lyricism and the bitingly rhythmic writing in the score, plus the tunefulness of the patriotic numbers. The conductor is young and has a very long baton, which is different to the toothpick he wields today.

The singers are all impressive and young in the important parts which require this to be so. Yelena Prochina as Natasha, Pierre Gham Gregoriam, Kutuzov Nikolai Okhotnikov and Prince Andrei Alexander Gergalov, fresh sounding. For example, Prince Andrei sings at the beginning in in scene one, "I saw an oak tree with scars, which seems to say, springtime and joy are an illusion". Also a huge cast. This is a very fine production with delightful singing and wonderful conducting.

I must point out that this is a 4.3 picture format, which on DVD fills my 42 inch wide screen, but on bluray has two black strips, one on each side. But this does not worry me, for I enjoyed this opera very much. Sound is good, so is the picture. You are right inside the opera as it were. No swirling camera work. Cardboard folding cover with Bluray ray in the middle with details of how the opera came into being and brief details of the production. There is no details of the cast. I might suggest you buy a pair of ear phones, I use a Sennheiser 170, which combines stereo with surround sound.

PCM STEREO. SUBTITLES: English, Germany, French, Spanish. REGION: Worldwide. 1080i high definition.

References: Ewen,D. The World of 20th Century music. 1968. Prentice-Hall. Sadie, S. The Grove book of operas. 2009. Oxford University Press.

Verdi:Aida [Maria Chiara; Luciano Pavarotti; Ghena Dimitrova; Juan Pons; Paata Burchuladze] [ARTHAUS: BLU RAY] [Blu-ray] [2015]
Verdi:Aida [Maria Chiara; Luciano Pavarotti; Ghena Dimitrova; Juan Pons; Paata Burchuladze] [ARTHAUS: BLU RAY] [Blu-ray] [2015]
Dvd ~ Verdi
Price: £14.99

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pavarotti and Chiara-two great singers, what more can you ask for ?, 10 Jun. 2015
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Aida sums up all that Verdi had achieved, combining the strengths of Italian opera with that of French Grand opera, basically near the end of his second period. The Scenery by Stage director Luca Ronconi is super traditional, which makes those new to this opera understand why it is so well regarded. This production has Desert Scenes, faces of Pharaohs, Slaves pulling blocks of stone, being whipped, the Grand march with all that goes with it and the costumes are of the Egyptian period.

I owned this once on Video, so I know this production very well. Aida has a great cast with Maria Chiara as Aida, with her luscious soprano. Radames is Luciano Pavarotti, with his beautiful voice and at his peak in 1985. Amneris Ghena Dimitrova mezzo makes a lot of her part, backed by the strong voices of Juan Pons and Nicolai Ghiaurov. The orchestra and Chorus of Teatro Alla Scala is conducted by Lorin Maazel, who brings this opera to life with his swift tempi and deep insight into Verdi. This is possibly one of the finest Aida's recorded live for TV, with these great singers at the peak of the form and Maazel on fire.

However, I must point out the following, this is 4.3 picture format and has a black space each side of the picture. Usually on DVD I can make the picture fill my 42 inch wide screen, but this does not happen with this 4.3 bluray. Possibly if you have this years version of a bluray machine it might do the trick. The sound and colour is certainly better then the video I owned. This time it has English subtitles.

When the Bluray is played after a few shorts of opera available on Bluray, a picture appears with the languages available. If it is English you want, pull the box from the picture with your remote and a line will appear beneath. Pull the line up to the box and press enter, Aida will now begin.

Aida comes in a cardboard folder with details about the history of Aida and this production.

PCM STEREO. SUBTITLES: English, German, French, Spanish, Netherlands. Region: Worldwide. 1080i High Definition.

Price: £46.70

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dvorak wrote "I still remain just what I was a simple traditional folk musician.", 25 May 2015
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This review is from: Dvorak:Edition (Audio CD)
These Brilliant Classics box sets have opened the eyes of new music lovers to the wonders of Classical music and serious collectors to works they have never heard before. I own a number of their box sets, Haydn, Faure and Rodrigo.(SEE REVIEWS BELOW). This Dvorak box set is narrow, to allow you to place inside the CD sleeves spine first, instead of placing the sleeve front first, which makes the box fatter as it were. I think this is the first time this has been done. The slanted lid opens backwards to make it easier to obtain the sleeves. This box set is blue with Dvorak in Orange, because in art they are complimentary colours. On the back, the headings, symphonies with the conductor and orchestra, then Orchestral music, Music for solo instrument and Orchestra and so on. Inside the lid in the colour of the sleeve, are CD numbers with symphonies, violin concerto etc.

The front of the sleeve has the music to be played plus the work. On the back the sleeves are the same colour. The lettering in white. Music to be played and CD track number, soloists, or conductor and orchestra and CD number. The CD is white, with CD number and music to be played. The sound has been digitalised, so you have ADD for stereo, but most are DDD and the sound is good. The booklet only has details of the life of Dvorak and his works. No track and CD numbers. Now on the back of the booklet it says contact for extensive liner notes and sung texts. I did not find them. But you might have to E-mail them at info.brilliantclassics. No CD Rom.

Karl Schumann writes "scarcely any other symphonist of the 19th century had to contend with difficulties as great as those which confronted Dvorak". Born in a little town in Bohemia in 1841, (died 1904) his father an innkeeper, wanted him to become a butcher, so Dvorak left school aged 11 to become one. However his interest in music was so great, he had taught himself the violin, then played at fairs, spending time on music lessons, learning the organ, viola, piano and basic competition. His father allowed him to enter the Prague Organ school in 1857. After graduating in 1859, he became principal violist in the National Theatre in Prague learning as much as he could. There he became under the influence of the conductor, Smetana, who impressed upon Dvorak the importance of nationalism. He threw away his early work which was influenced by Wagner, and found his own voice via Bohemian nationalism. He was a common man, not an intellectual. His music has all the vigor and directness of Folk music.

I will place comments next to some of the works to give you an idea of what they are like. All the great works of Dvorak are here, as well as the music that is not so well known and should be, that is what Brilliant Classics are excellent in doing. I have placed the music in the order that the CDs are in the box set. Another fact, is that their are many Czech's involved in this set, they have Dvorak in their blood.

ORCHESTRAL MUSIC: (Green-Blue Sleeve)

Symphonies 1-9.(ADD) Staatskapelle Berlin Cond Otmar Suitner. Actually, quite good, the conductor captures the melodies, and is swift when required. I own Dvorak 9 with the Berliner Philharmoniker conducted by Rafael Kubelik. I like it. But Suitner is worth having, you can always do with a different approach and another Dvorak 9. Or if you do not own any of Dvorak's symphonies, this is a good way to start. Suitner (1922-2010) was an Austrian conductor who spent most of his professional career in East Germany.

Piano Concerto. (ADD) Rudolf Firkusny piano. Romance in F minor op 11 for violin and Orch. Mazurek in E minor op 49 for Violin and Orchestra. Ruggiero Ricci Violin. Silent Woods op 68. No 5 for Cello and Orch. Rondo in G minor op 94 for Cello and Orch. Zara Nelsova cello. Violin Concerto in a minor op 53. Ricci Violin. Cello Concerto in B minor op 104. Zara Nelsova cello. All Saint Louis Symphony Orch cond Walter Susskind. Ricci has fire and dash in his playing of the Violin Concerto and Zara Nelsova Canadian born, plays well. I own the Decca Mono 1944- 1956 Box set where she play's the Rachmaninov and Kodaly Cello sonatas. She blew my socks off. She is no Dupre here, but it is worth while listening to.

Walter SUSSKIND (1915-1980) was born in Prague. His father was Viennese music critic and his Czech Mother a piano teacher. At the State Conservatorium he studied under the composer Josef Suk the son-in law of Dvorak. he later studied conducting under George Szell. From 1968-1975 he was Conductor of the St Louis Symphony orch. Rudolf FIRKUSNY (1912-1994) Born in Moravia. He studied with Leos Janacek and Josef Suk, later with Cortot and Schnabel. He became known for his performances of Czech composers, Smetana, Dvorak and Janacek. He championed Dvorak's only Piano concerto. Eventually he taught at the Julliard School in New York. Zara NELSOVA (1918-2002) a Canadian, was born Sara Katznelson of Russian descent. She performed at 5. Her family moved to London and she studied at the Royal College of Music. Barbirolli introduced her to Casels where she had additional lessons. Nelsova promoted the Elgar Cello Concerto which was rarely heard, long before Dupre.

Czech Suite.(DDD) Overtures. My Homeland. Hussite. In Nature's Realm. Othello. Janacek Philharmonic Orchestra. Cond Theodore Kuchar. Symphonic Variations op 78. Rather long, but Kuchar keeps you involved. Carnival Overture op 92.Very swift with lots of energy. The Water Goblin op 108. I like the spinning wheel like opening and finish. The Noon Witch op 108. Highly energetic. Kuchar captures the spirit of the piece. The Golden spinning Wheel op 109. The Wild Dove op 110. The world premiere was conducted by Leos Janacek at Brno in 1898, and the first Vienna performance in 1899 by Mahler. Both composers recognized that they owed something to Wild Dove, then the most modern of tone poems. Some of its elements influenced Jancek's Jenufa and Taras Bulba. A Hero's Song op 111. Janacek Philharmonic Orchestra. Cond Kuchar.(ADD) Slavonic dances for Orchestra. Bamberg Symphony orchestra cond Antal Dorati. He was inspired by Nikisch, so all I can say is this rendition is good. Kuchar conducts the Czech orchestra who have Dvorak in their bones. I heard him conduct on a CD, a Shostakovich symphony and he was inside the piece as it were.


(DDD) Rondo in G minor op 94. For Cello and piano. Robert Cohen & Roger Vignoles piano. Minatures op 75a for 2 violins and viola. Gavotte in G minor B 164 for 3 violins. Bagatelles op 47.For 2 violins, cello and harmonium. Alberni String quartet. Serenade in D minor op 44. Nash Ensemble. Their playing is very fine indeed, sensitive to colour and spirited. Capriccio B81. Romance in F minor op 11. Nocturne in B op 40. Violin sonata op 57. Sonatina in G op 100. Considering its disarmingly melodic freedom, it is astonishing that this piece in very rarely heard. The slow movement is known for its tender Indigenous American song. Ballad in D minor op 15 No 1. Romantic pieces op 75. Mazurek in E minor op 49. Bhuslav Matousek Violin. Petr Adamec piano.


SOLO PIANO.(DDD) Theme and variations in a flat op 36. Are admirable. Polka in E B3. Silhouettes op 8. Two Minuets, op 28. Dumka in D minor op 35. Two Furiants op 42. Eight Waltzes op 54.Delightful. Four Eclogues op 56. Scottish Dances. Four Album Leaves B 109. Six Piano Pieces, op 52. Six Mazurkas op 56. Are highly melodious and appealing. Moderato in A B116. Question B 128bis. Impromptu. Poetic Tone Pictures. Eight Humoresques op 101. Dumka in C minor op 12 No 1. Furiant in G minor op 12 No 2. Two little Pearls B 156. Album Leaf in E Flat B 158. Suite in A op 98. Delightful. Humoreska in F sharp B118. Two Pieces B188. Piano Inna Poroshina. Masterful pianism and Rhythmically free.

PIANO PIECES FOR FOUR HANDS.(DDD) Slavonic Dances op 46. & Op 72. There are many who will find the music of these Dances fresher on the piano than the Orchestra. Legends op 59. From the Bohemian Forest op 68. Ingryd Thorson, Julian Thurber Piano four hands.


(ADD) Piano Trio's No 1, 2. Romantic Pieces for violin and Piano. No 3 & 4 (Dumky) The no 3 is genial and written about the time of Dvorak's Mothers death. The No 4 is beautifully played and passionate. The Cohen Trio are well worth hearing.

(DDD)Piano Quintet No 1 op 5 & 2 op 81. Members of the Vlach Quartet Prague. with Ivan Klansky piano. That beautiful theme of the 1st movement No 2 op 81 is stunning. Piano Quartet No 1 op 23 & No 2 op 87. With Helena Sucharova- Weiser piano. The credentials of the Vlach Quartet of Prague would seem to be impeccable. The group's leader, Jana Vlachova, is the daughter of the great Josef Vlach. The players make a most pleasing impression that produce a rich, beautifully blended sound.

(DDD)String Quartet No 3 in B18. No 2 B 17. Andante appassionato in A minor B40a. No 8 op 80. Echo of songs (arr of Cypresses B 11 for string Quartet.) No 4 B 19. Quartet Movement in F B120. (Allegro virace). No 5 op 9. No 6 op 12. No 1. Terzetto op 74 (for two violins and viola) No 11 op 61. Two Waltzes op 54. (arr for string quartet of B101 Nos 1 & 2) No 9 op 34 & No 7 op 16. No 10 op 51. No 14 op 105. No 12 op96 (American) One of Dvorak's greatest works. and No 13 op 106. Quintets No 2 op 77. With Jiri Hudec double bass. No 3 op 97.With Jan Talich viola. The string Quartets span the whole of Dvorak's creative life. Generally Dvorak's quartets proved to be a natural outlet for his lyrical qualities. Stamitz Quartet performances have the warmth and humanity that Dvorak exudes. The STAMITZ String Quartet were founded in 1985. One of the best of the Czech string Quartets. In 2000 they took on the organisation of the Prague Euro Art international music festival. The Stamitz Quartet consist of Bohuslav Matousek Violin 1. Josef Kekila Violin 11. Jan Peruska viola. Vladimir Peixner Cello. But the personnel do change a bit.


(DDD) Moravian Duets op 20. Martina Kritzerova Soprano. Moravian Duets op 29 & Op 32. Prague Singers. Jaroslav Saroun piano. Stanislav Mistr conductor. Moravian Dances Op 38. Martina Kritznerova soprano. Daniela Demuthova alto. Jaroslav Saroun Piano. Gentle music. In Nature's Realm op 63. Four Choruses op 29. Prague Singers. Stanislav Mistr. Russian songs B603. Kritznerova soprano. Sarka Mistrova Mezzo. Stanislav Mistr tenor. Radek Holub baritone. Michal Krusek bass. Sona Bohmova piano.

Choruses for male and female voices. From a Bouquet of Slavonic folksongs op 43. Bouquet of Czech Folk songs op 41. Choral Songs B66. Risencecha B 73. (The song of a Czech). Five Partsongs op 27. Two Irish songs. Dear conner. The visit. Moranian Duets B 107. My Homeland? Marie Bartosova soprano. Stanislav Mistr tenor. Gypsy melodies op 55.No 4 Songs my Mother taught me. Love Songs op 83. Biblical songs. This is the longest and written in the United states when Dvorak was Homesick. Peter Schreier tenor. Marie Lapsansky piano. Sung in German. These songs are generally sung by a soprano. These cycles represent the full span of Dvorak's career.

Stabat Mater op 58. Christine Brewer soprano. Marietta Simpson. mezzo- soprano. John Aler tenor. Ding Gao Baritone. The Washington Chorus and Orchestra. Robert Shafer. Dvorak began sketching the Stabat Mater in 1876, then he put it aside to work on other projects. But the death of his child in September 1877 led him to seek escape from his grief in the writing of religious music; he completed this work on November 13th of that year. Psalm CXLIX op 79. Requiem op 89. Christine Libor soprano. Ewa Wolak Alto. Daniel Kirch tenor. Janusz Monarcha bass. Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir. Cond Antoni Wit. The soloists are superb and so is the conducting of Wit. Paul Stefan states that "Dvorak's work is one of the most beautiful,original and worthwhile settings of the Mass of the Dead". Serenade in E op 22 for strings. Capella Istropolitana. Jaroslav Krcek.

RUSALKA: Rusalka Ursula Furi- Bernhard. The Watersprite. Marcel Rosca. Jezibaba the witch. Nelly Boschkova. The Prince Walter coppola. The Foreign princess. Tiziana K. Sojat. First Dryad Tamara Felbinger. Second Dryad Vesna Odoran. Third Dryad Martina Gojceta. The Gamekeeper Zeljko Grofelnik. The Turnspit. Martina Zadro. The Huntsman Vitomir Marof. Academic Choir "Ivan Goran Kovacic." Zagreb Philharmonic Orch Cond Alexander Rahbari. The CDs are quite well sung and conducted. I own the DVD of this opera, with the Orchestra and Chorus of the Opera National de Paris, cond by James Conlon, stage director Robert Carsen, modern staging. Renee Fleming is here at her best.Released 2003. Also with Diadkova, larin, Hawlata.

I hope you enjoy this set as much as I do.

REFERENCES: Ewen, D. The Complete Book of Classical Music. 1978. Robert Hale. London. Penguin Classical Guide 1996 & 2008. Schumann, K. The symphonies of Antonin Dvorak. DGG. Stanley, J. Classical Music. 1994. Reed books International Ltd. Wikipedia.

Gilbert And Sullivan Operettas
Gilbert And Sullivan Operettas
Price: £26.45

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wit and a dig at the establishment along with beautiful music, what more could you ask for., 22 May 2015
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When you mention Gilbert(1836-1911) and Sullivan(1842-1900) to some Classical music lovers, they start quoting a few of the lyrics at you so popular are they.(REVIEWS BELOW) What is surprising is that Gilbert & Sullivan's partnership was essentially a business one. Socially they were worlds apart. But they both needed each others talents. What is amazing is that they both got away with having a dig at the establishment and opera in a subtle witty fashion. The melodies are often sublime. In 1875 D'Oyly Carte persuaded them to work together on Trial by Jury, which makes fun of the legal system. This suited Gilbert for as a barrister he was familiar with the court room. In 1878 the great success was HMS Pinafore, then the Pirates of Penzance 1879 whose Premiere was held in New York for business reasons. D'Oyly Carte then built the Savoy theatre especially to stage their works, really a G&S operetta Bayreuth. However, according to Holden, G&S wanted them to be called Comic Operas.

We have Sargent, Godfrey and Australian Mackerras's sets. All have their strengths and weaknesses, none is perfect. For music is subjective and a matter of taste and opinion. I like Sargent's approach which is operatic, emotional and sympathetic to the singers. For after all, that was what G& S was having a dig at, opera and other subjects as well under the disguise of satire.

For example in Ruddigore (1887) G&S make fun of a family curse and a gallery of family portraits that come to life. One of the Ancestors burnt a witch who curses them, that each successive baronet must perform a crime a day, or die in agony. The real baronet Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd, baronet of Ruddigore changes his name to Robin Oakapple, so his younger brother Despard thinking him dead took over the title, he has of course grown ugly and terrifying having to commit a crime a day. Mad Margaret wildly dressed in tattered clothes who loves Despard and has come to attack Rose, her supposed rival for his hand. Margaret enters to a Lucia-di Lammermoor flute like tune. Clever but funny. Sullivan knew the music on the continent and was able to add punch to Gilbert's wit, who had an almost Monty Pythonish take on the establishment and other sacred cows.

HMS Pinafore sends up class distinction. The captain has arranged a marriage for his daughter, with the first Lord of the Admiralty, but she loves Ralph, a seaman on her fathers ship. However Buttercup tells her terrible secret when Ralph is locked up for attempting to elope with his beloved. Ralph and the captain were mixed up at birth. So they change places and the first Minister of the Admiralty, no longer feels able to marry the ex captains daughter, whose father is now a common seaman. What about Iolanthe; G& S making fun of Parliament, and the House of Lords. Some of the Arias in G& S would fit the Italian favourites of the time, Donizietti's Elixir of Love and Don Pasqualle so well is the music written.

Before I give you the Casts, I must give you more details, the box set is the size of the sleeve, the lid opens backwards. On the back are the CD numbers and operas, and operetta overtures that are not in this set. Symphony in E Major "Irish"- excellent, especially the 2nd movement, very beautiful. Cello concerto with Julian Lloyd Webber-Cello. (Brother of the composer of Cats and Phantom of the Opera). London Symphony orchestra/ Cond Charles Mackerras. Each sleeve on the front cover the CD number and operetta's name. On the back CD track numbers and arias, and who is singing. Each CD is deep violet with wording in white, name of operetta, Act, plus CD number. Digitally renewed in 1987. Originally released from 1957-1963. All the discs sound fine, you can hear the music and voices clearly with a stereo effect. They have not done what they did to Maria Callas operas, recently remastered it, but look how expensive it was to buy. I am happy with this set. The booklet has operetta lists and performers with CD numbers. No dialogue-thank goodness.

The Penguin classical guide states that the performances are uniformly notable for the quality of the soloists and indeed, the excellent chorus. Sargent was a long-experienced advocate and he conducts with consistent authority.

(CD 1& 2).(1958) HMS PINAFORE: First Lord of the Admiralty. George Baker baritone. Captain. John Cameron baritone. Ralph. Richard Lewis. Deadeye. Owen Brannigan bass. Boatswain. James Milligan bass-baritone, John Cameron baritone. Mate. Milligan. Brannigan. Captains daughter. Elsie Morison soprano. Hebe. Majorie Thomas contralto. Buttercup. Monica Sinclair. The whole of the final scene is musically quite ravishing, and Sargent is never less than lively. TRIAL BY JURY: Judge. George Baker baritone. The Plaintiff. Elsie Morison soprano. Defendant Richard Lewis. Counsel. John Cameron. Usher. Owen Brannigan bass. Foreman of the jury. Bernard Turgeon baritone. With George Baker as Judge is by general consent the best there is, spirited and very well sung.

(CD 3& 4).(1961) THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE. Major- General Stanley. George Baker. (I am the very model of a Modern major General). (Based on Wolsley-a British general of that period). The Pirate King. James Milligan bass. Samuel (a pirate). John Cameron baritone. Frederic. Richard Lewis tenor. Sergeant of Police. Owen Brannigan Bass. Mabel Elsie Morison soprano. Edith. Heather Harper. soprano. Kate. Majorie Thomas contralto.(All daughters of the Major General. Ruth a pirate maid. Monica sinclair contralto. OPERETTA OVERTURES: The sorcerer. Cox and box. Princess Ida. Pro Arte Orchestra. Malcolm Sargent. Overture in C major "IN MEMORIAM" City of Birmingham symphony Orchestra/ Vivian Dunn. The Pirates is highly successful, stylish as well as lively, conveying both the fun of the words and the charm of the music.

(CD 5 &6).(1962) PATIENCE: Colonel Calverley. John Shaw baritone. Major Murgatroyd. Trevor Anthony Bass. Lieutenant the Duke of Dunstable Alexander Young tenor.(Officers of the Dragoon Guards) Reginald Bunthorne-poet.(really Oscar Wilde). George Baker baritone. Archibald Grosvenor- Poet. John Cameron. The Lady Angela. Majorie Thomas contralto. The lady Jane. Monica Sinclair. Contralto. The Lady Saphir Elizabeth Harwood. soprano. The Lady Ella. Heather Harper. Rapturous Maiden's. Patience a dairy maid. Elsie Morison soprano. SYMPHONY IN E Major "IRISH." This opera is a great success which has a convincing theatrical atmosphere. Elsie' Morison's Patience, Baker's Bunthorne and John Cameron's Grosvenor are all admirably characterized, while the military men are excellent.

(CD 7 & 8) (1959) IOLANTHE: The lord Chancellor. George Baker baritone. Earl of Mountararat. Ian Wallace bass. Earl Tolloller. Alexander Young tenor. Private Willis. Owen Brannigan Bass. Strephon. John Cameron baritone. Queen of the Fairies. Monica Sinclair. Iolanthe. Fairy. Majorie Thomas contralto. Celia. April Cantelo. soprano. Lelia Heather Harper. two fairies. Phyllis Shepherdess. Elsie Morison. OVERTURE DI BALLO. BBC Symphony Orchestra/ Malcolm Sargent. There is much to praise in Iolanthe. The climax of Act 1, the scene in which the Queen of the fairies lays a curse on members of both Houses of Parliament, shows most excitingly what can be achieved with the "full operatic treatment".

(CD 9& 10)(1957) THE MIKADO: The Mikado. Owen Brannigan bass. Nanki-Poo. Richard Lewis tenor. Ko-Ko. Lord High Executioner. Sir Geraint Evans baritone. Poo-Bah. Ian Wallace. Pish-Tush. John Cameron baritone. Yum-Yum. Elsie Morison. soprano. Pitti-Sing. Majorie Thomas. Peep-Ho. Jeanette Sinclair. soprano. Katischa. Monica Sinclair.
A wand'ring minstrel, I. Three little maids from school. The flowers that bloom in the spring. On a tree by a river a little tom-tit. Really sublime songs and Melodies. The grand operatic style for the finales of both acts, the trio about the "death" of Nanki-poo, and the glee that follows are characteristic of this stylish singing.

(CD 11 & 12)(1963) RUDDIGORE; Sir Ruthwen Murgatroyd-Robin Oakapple. George Baker baritone. Richard Dauntless. Richard Lewis. Sir Despard Murgatroyd of Ruddigore. Owen Brannigan bass. Old Adam Goodheart. Harold Blackburn bass. Rose Maybud. Elsie Morison soprano. Mad Margaret. Pamela Bowden contralto. Dame Hannah. Monica Sinclair. Contralto. Zorah. Elizabeth Harwood. soprano. Sir Roderic Murgatroyd Joseph Rouleau Bass. The TEMPEST excerpts. THE MERCHANT OF VENICE. Excerpts from suite. City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra/ Sir Vivian Dunn. Sargent's essentially lyrical approach brings out the associations this lovely score has with Schubert. This performance is beautifully sung. Altogether a superb set.

(CD 13 & 14)(1958) THE YEOMEN OF THE GUARD: Sir Richard Cholmondeley. Lietenant of the Tower. Denis Dowling baritone. Colonel Fairfax. Richard Lewis. Sergeant Meryll. John Cameron. Leonard Meryll. Alexander Young. tenor. jack Point. Sir Geraint Evans baritone. Wilfred Shadbolt Owen Brannigan Bass. First Yeoman. Alexander Young tenor. Second Yeoman. John Carol Case. Elsie Maynard. Elsie Morison soprano. Phoebe. Majorie Thomas Contrato. Dame Carruthers. Monica Sinclair. Kate. Doreen Hume. soprano. This operetta is very fine. The trios and quartets with which this score abounds are most beautifully performed and the ear is continually beguiled.

(CD 15-16) (1957) THE GONDOLIERS: The Duke of Plaza-Toro. Sir Geraint Evans Baritone. Luiz. Alexander Young. Don Alhambra del Bolero. Owen Brannigan Bass. Marco Palmieri. Richard Lewis. Guiseppe Palmeri. John Cameron. Antonio. james Milligan. Bass-baritone. Francesco. Alexander Young. Giorgio James Milligan. Bass-baritone. The Duchess of Plaza-Toro. Monica Sinclair. Contralto. Casilda. Edna Graham soprano. Gianetta Elsie Morison. soprano. Tessa. Majorie Thomas contralto. Fiametta. Stella Hitchens.soprano. Vittoria. Lavinia Renton soprano. Giulia. Helen Watts. Contralto Inez. Helen Watts.Contralto.CELLO CONCERTO IN D MAJOR. (Reconstructed by Mackie and Mackerras) Webber Cello. LSO Cond Mackerras. There is a great deal of pleasure to be had from this set.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Holden, A, The Penguin opera Guide. 1995. Viking. Penguin classical Guide 2008.
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Peter Sculthorpe: The ABC Recordings 10CD + DVD
Peter Sculthorpe: The ABC Recordings 10CD + DVD
Price: £53.87

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Limelight magazine 2014 states " that Sculthorpe is Australia's greatest composer.", 19 May 2015
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Peter Sculthorpe wrote his music using Aboriginal songs, and sounds that came from countries that were bordering the Pacific rim to create an authentic Australian sound. He mostly broke away from Euro-centric, classical ways of thinking about music.(REVIEWS BELOW) These characteristics become even more apparent in his later music. Or as one of Sculthorpe's students explained, he was the first Australian composer, "whose music could not be mistaken for anyone elses." Unwittingly, while finding a genuine Australian orchestral voice, Sculthorpe was in the forefront of a rebellion against the music of Schoenberg and Boulez, along with Glass, Adams, Reich, Part and Gorecki, who brought back melody to their music.

Sculthorpe had a habit of changing his music, so you will find the same piece twice or three times in this 10 CD set, evolving each time. However, people often comment on the fact that the composers music contains a number of melodies that are repeated in numerous works. But he referred to this handful of melodies, as his "songlines". As Chris Latham wrote in Peter Sculthorpe: a life at the piano. "I have come to regard these song lines as "Dreaming tracks", names to describe the labyrinth of invisible pathways, that, according to Aboriginal belief , are created by the totemic ancestors of all species as they sang the world into existence".(from complete works for solo piano) The composer mainly always wrote by commission, also he had an association for 50 years with Sydney University music department as a teacher. He lived permanently in that city. Faber in London since 1965 published his works.

The music is recognised by bird sounds played by the strings, didgeredoo noises orchestrated, or the instrument actually played, or Aboriginal songs as written down by whites, plus blocks of sound unique to Sculthorpe. What he was aiming for was to portray this ancient continent, the oldest in the world, and its effect on the people. His break through came in 1960 through two pieces broadcast on the BBC. Sculthorpe explained that he had tried to capture in music something he found in the paintings of Russell Drysdale and Sidney Nolan, "the curious feeling of timelessness.. a sense of endless space, of mystery, of legend, of life stretching beyond historical memory, of emptiness and yet an emptiness that is filled with the spirit of a people whose history begins with the beginnings

Australia is a country where the creative power of Nature can still be felt, and we can become a part of it, but we cannot speak of it, for there are no words to describe the experience. But then we use symbols and myths to explain it. But for the white Anglo, in his mind, this country was part of Europe, not a country next to Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. Our Anglo myths show this to be so, which can cause us at times to look backwards, instead of bravely going forwards and believing in ourselves. So we feared this ancient country and ignored it. Hence the wanton destruction of the environment, its shocking refugee policies and its past treatment of the Aboriginal peoples whose wisdom the composer admired. Sculthorpe mentions all this in his DVD, using excerpts from his string Quartets played by the Goldner sting quartet, to explain his life and views. The 86 page booklet explains his music and its meaning. But he came to terms with this country, through his voyages into the Torres Straits and the Timor sea and visiting its Indigenous peoples.

Born in 1929 in Tasmania, which was a very conservative island, it even was when I lived there for a while in 1974. But the island did become the home of the Green political Party and now many artists choose to live there. The composer had a happy childhood, but a solitary one and his pursuits were artistic. His English born mother became a head mistress at an infants school and had to resign to marry a third generation Tasmanian. His mother encouraged his music and he had two piano teachers. The composer sung in a Church choir as a child. He liked Chopin, Mahlers Das lied von der Erde and Delius's Sea Drift. His father taught him about the outdoors and Nature. Peter was not Religious in the formal sense, but he considered himself a Pantheist.

While still at school in Launceston, he began a dictionary of Tasmanian Aboriginal words, which ran to thirty typed foolscap pages. Then Sculthorpe went to Melbourne music Conservatory on the mainland at 16, when he obtained his degree. In the early 1950's he carried out serious research into all remaining evidence of music of the Tasmanian Aborigines. He did unearth a wax cylinder of one of the last surviving Tasmanian Aborigines singing traditional songs of her people. She was a distant relative of Peter's. This research was for a post-graduate degree, which did not happen. However, Peter decided he could not earn a living as a composer, so he turned to the Tasmanian theatre and wrote music, as well as a musical for Sydney. In 1958 he went to Oxford University, England, and studied with Rubbra and Wellesz, but could not finish his Doctorate in 1961, as his father died and he returned to Tasmania and he did not have the money to return to Oxford University.

The above and the comments from Peter Sculthorpe about his music, plus an explanation about Aboriginal Dreamtime, might help you understand this composer's music, or that otherness. Also he was present at most of these recordings.

CD 1.(2000) Sun music 1-4. Irkanda 1V. Len Dommett Violin. Piano Concerto- Anthony Fogg Piano. Cond John Hopkins. Small town. Cond Fredman Melbourne Symphony orchestra.

CD 2.(1989) Earth cry. "It would be dishonest of me to write music that is quick and joyous. A bogus national identity and its commercialisation have obscured the true breath of our culture. Most of the jubilation, I came to feel, awaits us in the future. Perhaps now we need to attune ourselves to this continent, to listen to the cry of the Earth, as the Aborigines have done for thousands of years." Irkanda 1V -Hazelwood Violin. Small town. Guy Henderson Oboe. Kakadu. Mangrove. Sydney Symphony Orchestra. Cond Stuart Challender

CD 3.(1996) Port Essington. Richard Tognetti & Rathbone Solo Violins, Cameron Retchford Solo cello.The music is about the attempted settlement on the Cobourg Peninsula in far North Australia. Founded in 1838 it was abandoned 11 years later because the settlers failed to adapt to a life of heat, floods, fire and white ants, or to the customs and traditions of their indigenous hosts. They, by contrast- despite suffering the effects of the whites illnesses and their environmental and cultural insensitvity- remained in harmony with the land and duly reclaimed it". The string orchestra represents the Bush, and a string trio play what appears to be 19th century salon music, represents the Settlement. The bush overcomes the settlement, then they play in unison. First Sonata for Strings. Lament. Cameron Retchford cello. Second Sonata for Strings. Third Sonata for Strings (Jabiru Dreaming) Irkanda IV Richard Tognetti. Australian Chamber Orchestra.Cond Richard Tognetti.

CD 4.(1996) Memento mori. Sculthorpe explains" It seems on Easter Island, at the beginning of the 17th Century, there was a population explosion. The inhabitants stripped the island of trees, causing soil erosion depriving themselves of building materials for boats and housing. Retreating to the caves they fought each other. By the time the first Europeans arrived in 1722 the survivors had even forgotten the significance of the great stone heads that still stand there" His message is that the old World destroys the indigenous cultures that it colonised. But eventually the old World will pass away, and he has anger at the environmental degradation of the planet. However, he did not mention that Tasmania once built Dams which had a huge effect on the environment,also old tree logging which the Greens and the Hawke Federal Government stopped. That is what unconsciously inspired him in this piece I believe.

Sun Song. Sun Music 1-IV. From Uluru. Adelaide Symphony Orchestra. Cond David Porcelijn.

CD 5.(1996) Little Nourlangie.- David Drury. Music for Japan. Mark Atkins. didjeridu. Piano Concerto. 5 Movements. Tamara-Anna Cislowska piano. The song of Tailitnama. Kirsti Harms mezzo soprano. Sydney Symphony Orchestra. Edo de Waart.

CD 6. (1997) Port Arthur: In memoriam. In 1996 many people were killed in a Cafe within the Port Arthur historical settlement and outside, by a lone gun man. Because of this event, Mr Howard, Prime Minister at the time, had private ownership of Guns eventually banned in Australia. Mark Skillington trumpet. Barbara Jane Gilby. Violin.

The fifth Continent. Peter Sculthorpe speaker. Barbara Jane Gilby violin Solo. David Pereira cello solo. Vanessa Souter harp. Bruce Lamont truimpet. Joseph Oboe. Mark Atkins Didjeridu. Based on D.H Lawrence's Kangaroo. From V. Epilogue. Excerpts. "Already he loved this country. (Australia) He loved the country he had railed at so loudly.. while he cared he had to rail at it. But the care once broken inside him it had a deep mystery for him, and a dusty far-off call that he knew would go on calling for long ages before it got any adequate response, in human beings".

Djille. Lament. Sue --Ellen Paulsen Cello. Little Suite. Night song. Port Arthur: In memoriam. Joseph Ortsuo oboe. Barbara Jane Gilby violin. Tasmanian Symphony orchestra. Cond David Porcelijn.

CD 7.(2006) My Country Childhood. Earth cry (abridged version). Great Sandy Island. New Norcia. Outside of Perth, West Australia where I live. Quamby for chamber orchestra. Adelaide Symphony Orchestra. Cond James Judd.

On Quamby . Growing up in the 1930s and 1940's Sculthorpe does not recall meeting a single Aboriginal person, or expecting to. What was said was they had disappeared from the Island in colonial times, a few survivors being shipped to Flinders Island for their own protection, only to die of of a cold. Time had converted outright acts of genocide into familiar legends. Passing Quambly Bluff while fishing with his father, he told the story that during the Black wars of 1820s, the indigenous people were hunted down or herded over the precipice by colonial troops. Their death cries "Save me" or "Quamby" were supposed to have given the spot its name. This is a story of colonial guilt dressed up for home consumption over the generations. No written history record a massacre at this spot, though it bears a close resemblance to an attested massacre at Cape Grim in 1828 while Quamby was reported to be the name of a tribal leader shot in 1832 elsewhere in Tasmania.

CD 8. (2005) Cello Dreaming. Sue Ellen Paulsen cello. Sculthorpe explained that he turned to the Northern territory, or the top end for inspiration. There, along the coastline, Aboriginal cultures mingle with those from the Torres Strait, Papua New Guineas and to a lessor extent, Indonesia. The music is meant to reflect the mingling of traditional cultures that began long before the arrival of European explorers and colonists. A single movement.

Quamby. Nourlangie. Karin Schaupp. From Tabah Tabuhan (Music for Bali) Tasmania Symphony Orchestra. Richard Mills.

CD 9.(2004) Earth Cry. Mangrove. Songs of Sea and Sky. Kakadu. Alexa Murray cor anglais. From Ubirr. William Barton. Didjeridu Queensland symphony Orchestra. Cond Michael Christie. (there are various ways of spelling this Aboringal instrument).It is a difficult instrument to play. This instrument was only used in the North of the Northern territory and North-eastern Kimberley. The average length was from 4 to 6 feet. The larger varieties often as long as 15 feet requiring two men to carry it. The "dige" was made of hollowed timber soaked in water. Ironbark or Stringybark timber was sometimes eaten out by termites to make a long, narrow tube. Some instruments were of constant diameter, others were wider at the distal end than at the mouth end.

CD 10.(2006) Requiem. Adelaide Chamber singers. William Barton didjeridu. Adelaide symphony Orchestra. Cond Arvo Volmer

BONUS: (2012) Peter Sculthorpe. The composer surveys his life and career as seen through the prism of his string quartets. Excerpts live. No 8, No 7, No 8, No 11, No 12, No 14, No 15, No 18. 76 minutes. 16.9. Digtal stereo. English. No subtitles. CDs Digital. Tough box CD Sleeve size. Sleeves have track numbers and what is to be played and conductor on the back.

LIFE AND DREAMS. Adelaide River. Northern Territory. Written 1999. By Me-T. I never knew that Sculthorpe had the views he did. This poem was inspired by the feeling of the country around me, something I had tapped into; a mystical experience if you will.

Amid the Winters dry, where rusty red
mingles with palms and broken fingers of stone,
life barks its harsh cry;
Earth sounds of birth and breath.
This day that turns into half light, death and regeneration.
Leaving spaces between their shadows,
a seamless dream where nothing is what it should be.
This gateway of ceaseless toil,
time into time, where nothingness can become a flower,
silence a symbol.

The Aboriginal people have been here in Australia, for approximately 60,000 years, which makes them the oldest living culture in the World. Some archaeologists including Flood in her book, Archaeology of the Dreamtime, have speculated that the Aborigines came here by raft from Timor, because then the journey would then have been 90 kms, entering the Northern part. For Australia had a larger land mass at that time, and even Tasmania was attached to the mainland up to 10,000 years ago.

ABORIGINAL DREAMTIME. Implies that they were the days when creative acts were performed by the first ancestors of men, or by the spirits and Heroes and Heroines who established the pattern of Nature and Life. It had its beginning when the world was young and unformed, but it was a process as well as a period. It never ceased. Time entered into the concept as well as space, not as a period or even a succession of periods, but as an ever-present "Now" that eternally perpetuated the Dreamtime. So the ancestor who may have been a spirit, or a man, and who changed into an animal which became the totem of the clan or tribe, or of the individual and who established laws and patterns of behaviour, is as alive today as when he performed his original enactments. The sacred past, is the sacred present, dreamtime.

The fact that heroes of old were alive in every generation, whether in their first or later forms, was a guarantee to men that they were following the precepts laid down at the beginning of time. Without the assurance, without the knowledge that the guardian spirits were part of their inmost being, life would have had no purpose for the Aborigines. This belief explains many facits of Aboriginal life. In fact without this knowledge we cannot understand the Aboriginal at all.

Song dance and ritual were the means whereby he kept within the territory of the Dreamtime. In ritual he was actually in Dreamtime. The boundaries of his physical environment were defined by the extent of the journey's of the ancestor who was known to him. Every tree and hill and waterhole had its intimate contact with the ancestor who made it, or who performed some creative act at that particular place. He and the ancestor were one. From The Encyclopedia of Aboriginal life by A.W.Reed.

According to Sutton in Dreamings the Art of the Aboriginal Australia, there were over 200 languages spoken in Australia, so it is a very complex culture. Also only the Dreamings were original and creative; people simply copy in their art. When a new design or song originates with an individual, it is said to have been found by them. But A.P Elkin one of Australia's foremost Anthropologists suggested that our approach to this culture is the academic and rational one of Greek philosophers and the West. The Oriental approach is one of experiment and Observation and only then if we follow that concept, will we understand Aboriginal culture. For as Professor Elkin and Howard Morphy point out, they do believe in reincarnation but in their own manner. Sculthorpe would have been aware of some of this and I think in some of his music, attempts to give us a glimpse of it. In conclusion it has been a delightful experience writing about my country man, Australia,s greatest composer, usually I write about European composers.

Elkin, A.P. Aboriginal Men of High Degree. 1994. University of Queensland Press. Ewen, D. The World of 20th century Music. 1968. Prentice-Hall. Flood,J. Archaeology of the Dreamtime. 1995. Angus & Robertson. Latham, C. Sculthorpe: A life at the piano. ABC classics. Morphy H. Ancestral connections. 1991. University of Chicago Press. Reed, A.W. The illustrated book of Aboriginal Life. 1974. Literary Productions Ltd. Skinner, G. Sculthorpe- The ABC Recordings.2014. ABC Classics. Sutton, P (Ed) Dreamings. The Art of Aboriginal Australia. 1988. Viking.
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The Great Conductors - Most Popular Symphonies and Orchestral Favorites
The Great Conductors - Most Popular Symphonies and Orchestral Favorites
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This box set is for those who collect CDs of conductors of the past, and those who wish to start doing so., 15 May 2015
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Do not be fooled by the title of the box set, 30 Great Conductors conduct the most popular symphonies and orchestral favourites, and think it is a corny title, basically a sales gimmick, and not worth bothering with. You could not be more wrong. The set is published by Membran, who published Wagner's vision, Operas from 1928- 1950's. The blue boxed Furtwangler's-the legacy 107CDs and the Von Karajan 1938-1960 117 CD box sets. However, I could argue about who is and is not included in the 30, but many of the conductors are truely great and deserve to be there.(REVIEWS FURTHER ON). This set would certainly be useful for collectors of the past conductors, also those new to those past recordings and do not know where to start, this box set will certainly remedy that. Apart from that, this set would make a nice present for someone. However, as there is no booklet, I shall be your guide. This review/ booklet is long, for that I apologise, but I do consider this box set an important historical document.

This tough box set is small and petite, much like the Masterworks Heritage 28 CD box set. Plum coloured with orange wording on both sides of the box, plus on the back, the CD numbers, conductor, and composers in white lettering. This lid covers the entire smaller box. Once taken off, you can see the sleeves and the CD number in white, plus conductors name. On the back of the sleeve, the composer, music to be played, plus track numbers. The sound is divided between MONO and STEREO, but that is not mentioned anywhere, including the Disc. Only a bit of hiss on one CD, otherwise it is good. The earliest piece of music is recorded in 1947, most in the 1950's up to 1962, only one in 1975. The recordings come from RCA, DECCA and EMI and DGG. You can pick up the box in the palm of you hand, holding it from the bottom, not from the top. I use the lid to put in those CDs I wish to play. By the way, there is a logic to this set, the conductors are placed in alpbetical order.

Artur Nikisch (1855-1922) (not in this set) because of his Hungarian charm and wit, those in his orchestras loved him, like the Berlin Philharmonic and the Leipzig Gewandhaus orchestra. He lifted the conductor out of the podium and set him on a pedestal in the center of society. He liberated the music director from local servitude, gaining global fame. He never undersold himself. He represented a city, a society and a way of life, but there is more than that to it. A conductor is not a time beater he thought, they needed to analyse the score in depth. For Nikisch the score was dead, until it was brought to life and interpreted subjectively. He constantly rehearsed, but would not always play the piece the same way twice, for he got bored. Nikisch was a marvellous teacher of orchestras.

Nikisch was the model for youngsters wherever he went. In Russia, he fired the imagination of Serge Koussevitsky, in France Pierre Monteux, in Switzerland of Ernest Ansermet, in Germany of Wilhelm Furtwangler, in Hungary of Fritz Reiner. The mighty sucession of Hungarian Maestros-Reiner, George Szell, Eugene Ormandy, Ferenc Fricsay, Antal Dorati, Istvan Kertesz (drowned in his 40's) and Georg Solti-traced his origin to Nikisch. (Norman Lebrecht 1997:40) Both Karajan and Bernstein were inspired by him indirectly as I shall show later on, and some of these conductors mentioned inspired others.

Each conductor has one CD and so in a number of cases, I shall place details about him first and then the music will come second. Also, I might comment on the music. A number of facts came to light during my study of these conductors, quite a few had relatives, or parents who were musicians, or a mentor when studying, some started playing an instrument when young. Also, a number composed. This set does show that each conductor brings their own interpretation to the music to be played.


Born in Switzerland. Originally a professor teaching Maths at the University of Lausanne. In 1915 -1923 he was a conductor for Diaghilev's Ballet Russe. Because he was travelling in France he met Ravel and Debussy and consulted them on the performance of their work. He met and befriended Stravinsky in Switzerland. In 1918 he founded his own orchestra, Orchestre de la suisse Romande. Ansermet became famous for his performances of difficult modern works and took Jazz seriously.

BIZET : (1960) Carmen. Prelude. Gipsy song and dance. Prelude Act 3 & 4.DELIBES:(1958) Coppelia. Prelude introduction, Mazuka. Waltz act one. DUKAS:(1957) La Peri. TCHAIKOVSKY:(1959) Swan Lake Act one ballet.
STRAVINSKY:(1959) Rite of Spring. Part One.


Born Giovanni Battista (John). He saved the Halle from dissolution in 1943 and conducted it for the rest of his days. Born in London of Italian and French parentage, he grew up in a family of professional musicians. After stating out as a Cellist, he was given a chance to conduct the British National Opera company in 1926. He was beloved by the Halle Orchestra, whose children he taught and eventually became members of the orchestra. Some ex members when talking about him, burst into tears even now. He was famous for saying, "if that man (Beecham) gets hold of my orchestra, you will not see my backside for dust"

ELGAR: Symphony No 1. The first movement is vigorous and the slow movement is more affectionately done.
Enigma Variations. Excerpts. Theme (Andante). 1 C.A.E. (The composers wife) V. R.P.A (Richard Penrose Arnold)
VI. Ysobel (Isobel Fitton) VII. Troyte (Troyte Griffith). VIII W.N. (Winifred Norbury) IX. Nimrod (A.J Jaeger) X Intermezzo: Dorabella (Dora Penny) XIV. Finale E.D.U. (The composer) Halle Orchestra (1956). This music was recorded in the Manchester Free Trade Hall in 1956 by the Mercury team of Wilma Cozart and Harold Lawrence of "Living Presence" fame. The sound is extraordinary good, and the performance is Barbirolli's finest account ever on record. Elegy is a moving account. Penguin Classical guide 1976.


Thomas founded four orchestra's in London and made it in his day the music capital of Europe for a time. He was charming and a wit, beloved by his orchestras because its members stated he treated them as an equal, but he could be ruthless when it came to power. Haydn, Mozart, Delius and French music were his domain. He could make conducting seem easy and his music making in certain music had a certain lightness and flair that no other conductor could touch.

HAYDN:(1879-1961) Symphony No 100, 101 & 103. Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,(Beecham's last orchestra) 1958/59. The art of phrasing is one of the prime secrets of music-making and no detail in Beecham's performances goes untended. They have also great warmth and a unique genality. There is a box set, Haydn Edition 150 CDs, issued by Brilliant. The symphonies use modern instruments not authentic.


Lenny studied at Inglewood, in the conducting class of Serge Koussevitzky. He had already learnt his conducting technique from Fritz Reiner at the Curtis Institute of music at Philadelphia. (Reiner gave him the only A he ever awarded). He was born Louis Bernstein and changed his name at 15 to Leonard, but known to his friends as "Lenny". He was a composer, pianist, conductor and left wing politically.

DVORAK: Symphony No 9. New York Stadium Orchestra. 1953. Early Bernstein, swiftly played, emotional and firey. GERSHWIN: Rhapsody in Blue. Bernstein piano. Columbia Symphony Orchestra 1959. Jazzed up Gershwin. BERNSTEIN: On the Town, Ballet music. "On the town Orchestra 1947. Pop music of its time.

BOHM: (1894-1981)

Bohm studied Law and earned a Doctorate in this subject, before entering the music Conservatory in his home town of Graz, where he got his start. When he became head of Dresden's Semper opera in 1934, a position he held until 1942, he met and befriended Richard Strauss. The composer dedicated his opera Daphne to him. He has recorded it with Hilde Gueden. Haitink has as well, with Lucia Popp.

MOZART: Symphony No 35, 38 & 41.

CLUYTENS: (1905-1967)

He was born in Antwerp into a musical family, his Grandfather, Father and Uncle were all professional musicians. His Mother was a soprano who died, and so was his step mother. Cluytens joined his father who was a conductor at the Royal French opera house. he became a French citizen in May 1940. He was the first French conductor to conduct at Bayreuth Wagner Festival in 1955.

BIZET: L' Arlesienne Suite 1 & 2. Orchestra National de la Radiodiffsion Francaise. 1953. In French music there is a lot to be said for the special Gallic Sonority this Orchestra brings to this piece. SAINT-SAENS: Symphony No 3. Organ symphony. Henriette Roget (Organ). Orchestre de la Societe des concerts du Conservatoire, Paris. 1955.


Born in Budapest, where his father was a violinist with the Budapest Phil Orchestra and his mother was a piano teacher. He studied at the Franz Lizst Academy with Kodaly and Bartok for Piano. His first love was composing. Dorati conducted the World Premiere of the Bartok Viola Concerto. He made his conducting debut in 1924 at the Budapest Royal opera house. Eventually, he conducted the Dallas symphony and the Minneapolis symphony, where he recorded many works for Mercury's " Living Presence"

RIMSKY-KORSAKOV:(1959) Capriccio Espanol. Brings glittering bravura and excitment from the London Symphony Orchestra and the Russian Easter festival overture is equally dynamic and colourful.
TCHAIKOVSKY: (1954) Capriccio Italian. Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra and the Overture 1812. At the time this overture was a best seller for its special effects provided by the brass band of the University of Minnesota and Bells and cannons. Dorati did some stellar work for Living Presence.


He went to the same music Academy as Reiner had done and was taught composition by Kodaly and Piano by Bela Bartok. Fricsay championed these two Hungarian composers. He created a lean string sound and conducted music with intensity as he was always listening. He died at 48 of cancer.

RAVEL:(1959) Bolero. BERLIOZ:(1956) Roman Carnival.(1956) DUKAS: Sorcerer's Apprentice. PROKOFIEV:(1953) Symphonie Classique. BORODIN:(1956) From the Steppes of Central Asia.(Arr Glasunov). MUSSORGSKY:(1956) A night on the bare Mountain. (Arr Rimsky-Korsakov).


Goering and Gobbels played with this conductor's mind, and created a competition with Von Karajan to make Furtwangler insecure, also getting rid of his Jewish secretary whom he depended upon. Beecham snapped her up as his secretary. He did not leave Germany during the Nazi period for he thought he could save German music.

"Furtwangler's performance did not so much as start as emerge. The famous indecisive beat was a play with a purpose, not as some professional musicians will tell you, a symptom of technical incompetence." (Gramophone February 2005). He favoured intuitive insights, where markings on the page were viewed more as guidelines than instructions. Thus, the page was there for him to bring the music alive. Furtwangler placed more importance on the power of improvision than on the technical perfection that was achieved by continual rehearsing like Toscanini. His only role model was Nikisch. He was educated at home. His father was a famous archaeologist who had dug at Olympia. His mother, daughter of a friend of Brahms was a gifted painter. Furtwangler's ambition was to be a composer. Conducting he saw as being a partner in the art of creation. Each time he conducted, a work of art was born.

SCHUBERT: (1952)Symphony No 8. Berlin Philharmoniker. BEETHOVEN:(1952) Symphony No 6. Vienna Philharmonic. His live performances of Beethoven and Bruckner recording from 1942 and 1944 are outstanding. You will then wonder what all the fuss is about. He had disciples who listened to his music after he died, Barenboim, Metha, Abbado and Ashkenazy and as far as I can gather Thielemann.

VON KARAJAN:(1908-1989)

In 1934 at the age of 27, he became the youngest general manager of an opera house in all of Germany. This was the Aachen Theatre. This conductor was largely self taught, for he would listen for hours on end to recordings of the other conductors with his eyes closed. What I found surprising is that he claimed to be influenced by Toscanini and Furtwangler and inspired by Nikisch.

BEETHOVEN NO 3(1953). I like the way he conducts the 3rd, in fact the whole first Beethoven set he made. It set the template for the later two sets, or was it three. Egmont and Leonore III Overture. Philharmonia: Orchestra


He was an oboist in the Leipzig Gewandhaus orchestra before he became a conductor. One action that sums up the man is this, he left the orchestra and joined the German army during the war, rather then obey a Nazi order to dismiss his best violist.

BRAHMS:(1975) Symphony No 1. Munchner Philharmoniker. Glowing with warmth and beauty. he brings greater fire to the quicker movements and a tremendous sense of breath. WAGNER:(1951) Lohengrin Prelude Act 1. Bayerischen Staatsoper, Munchen.(1956) Die Meistersinger of Nurnberg. Prelude Act 1 & 3. Berliner Philharmonic. His best recording is a classic, EMI Lohengrin, Vienna Philharmonic with Thomas, Grummer, Fischer-Dieskau, Ludwig, Frick & Wiener.

ERICH KLEIBER:(1890-1956)

Erich was born in Vienna and studied in Prague. In 1923 he became Berlin State opera's institution's music director. The conductor was known for championing new works. When the Nazi's banned Berg's new work Lulu, Kleiber resigned from his post in protest at this treatment. He was not Jewish and could have remained in Germany. Erich refused to conduct at La Scala because of Mussolini's Anti-Jewish Laws. He moved to Buenos Aires and worked at the Colon theatre as music director. It is thought that when he wanted a senior post in Europe in the 1950's, and did not obtain it, he committed suicide, so his son said. This was covered up and stated he died of a heart attack. Erich was the father of Carlos and it caused great problems for his son throughout his life as a conductor, for he was always competing with his fathers memory.

BEETHOVEN No 9.(1956) Hilde Gulden Soprano. Sieglinde Wagner mezzo. Anton Dermota. Tenor. Ludwig Weber. Bass. Vienna Philharmonic.


He was Mahler's assistant conductor. Eventually, he directed the Kroll opera house in Berlin. He bought modern performances and composers to the theatre, like a modern day dressed Wagner's Flying Dutchman. He was ahead of his time. Naturally, the Nazi's closed his theatre down, then Klemperer left Germany. Klemperer was droll and witty. When asked about his place in musical history he growled-with po-faced irony and a German accent as thick as leberwurst: "I am the last of the Classical school. When Bruno Walter died, I put my fees up"

BRUCKNER: (1954) Symphony No 4.Version 1878/80 rev 1886. Swift. Klemperer as I like him, he gets right to the core of the symphony, no mucking about. HINDEMITH: Nobilissma visione Kolner Rundfunk SinfonieOrchester. LIVE. There is a 10 CD Box set, Klemperer live in Concert.

CLEMENS KRAUSS:(1893-1954)

Krauss wrote the libretto for Richard Strauss opera Capriccio.

RICHARD STRAUSS: (1950)Thus Spake Zarathustra. Till Eulenspiegels Merry Pranks. Don Juan. Symphonic poems.
JOHANN STRAUSS: (1954) The Blue Danube waltz. His 1953 Wagner Ring cycle with Hotter, Varnay, Resnik & Vinay is considered one of the best recorded.


Son of well known Violinist, Jan Kubelik. He was trained in Prague and made his debut with the local orchestra at 19. During the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia Rafael managed to continue his career as a conductor, when the Communist's took over in 1948, he left for Britain. he became a Swiss citizen in 1967.

SMETANA:(1960) Ma Vlast- My country. Vysehrad, Moldau, Sarka, from Bohemias Meadows and Forests, Tabor, Blank.

LEINSDORF: (1912-1993).

A repetiteur for Walter and Toscanini in Salzburg 1934-37. However,on Lotte Lehmann's recommendation he came to the Met in 1937 to Assist Bodanzsky, replacing him in Wagner's Die Walkure for his debut in 1938. He replaced the former conductor after he died in 1939, and took over the German repertory until 1945. He held posts in Cleveland, Rochester, Boston and Berlin radio Symphony.

WAGNER: (1961)Die Walkure Prelude Act 2. London Symphony Orchestra.(1958) Ride of the Valkyries and Magic Fire music (Concert version). LOHENGRIN: Prelude Act 3. TANNHAUSER: Overture. DIE MEISTERSINGERS: Dance of the Apprentics and Procession of the Masters. GOTTERDDAMMERUNG: Siegfried's Funeral March. Concert Arts Symphony Orchestra. MOZART: (1961) Don Giovanni. Overture. Vienna Philharmonic. PONCHIELLI: (1958) Dance of the Hours. Concert Arts symphony Orchestra.

MAAZEL: (1930-2014).

His father was a singer, teacher of voice, piano and an actor. His mother founded the Pittsburgh Youth Symphony. Maazel's grandfather was a Violinist in the Met orchestra for 20 years. Lorin made his debut on the conducting podium at the age of eight. Maazel embarked on his career in earnest in 1953.

DE FALLA:(1958) Dances from the three cornered Hat. Radio-symphonie orchester Berlin.
KHACHATURIAN: Gayaneh. Excerpts from the Ballet. Spartacus. Excerpts from the Ballet.IMPORTANT. It is written Wiener Philharmoniker/ Lorin Maazel 1962. However, according to a label on the box, a mistake has been made, it is Khachaturian who is conducting the Vienna Philharmonic in March 1962. I checked my Golden Vienna Philharmonic box set and found the composer had conducted it for Decca, at the Sofiensaal, Vienna 8-11 March 1962. It is easy to see how a mistake could have been made. STRAVINSKY:(1958) The Firebird. Radio-symphony- Orchestra Berlin.


Igor was born in Kiev, Ukraine,then the family moved to Paris in 1914, then on to Switzerland in 1916. Eventually in Paris, he studied with Cortot and Nadia Boulanger, who also taught Phillip Glass composition. She had a sister who composed and died aged 25. Igor was rated as one of the leading modern composers of his generation. Diaghilev had discovered him. In 1941 he fell seriously ill and gave up composing and took up conducting.

BERLIOZ:(1961) Symphonie Fantastique. The recording is impulsive and convincing. BIZET:(1961) Carmen Suite No 2. Orchestre des Concerts Lamoureux, Paris


Born a Greek. He was helped by Saint-Saens to win a travel scholarship to Berlin, where he studied with Busoni and became Erich Kleiber's assistant at the State Opera. War clouds in Europe lured him to America. After a debut in Boston in 1936, he moved on to Minneapolis and turned a provincial orchestra into a World beater. In 1950 he became the conductor of the New York Phil. The critics accused him of playing too many modern works. However,the orchestra did not like the modern music, nor his sexual orientation which virtually broke him. He moved to the Met where he had a warm relationship with the orchestra and the directors. He died of a heart attack at the Met while rehearsing Mahler's third symphony.

PROKOFIEV:(1956) Lieutenant Kije, symphonic suite. SHOSTAKOVICH:(1952) Symphony No 5. New York Philharmonic.


He was an assistant conductor at the Colonne Orchestra in Paris, as well as principal Violist. However, the conductor for Diaghilev's Ballet Russe's Petrouchka was not available for rehearsals. Stravinsky asked him to take over the 1911 World Premiere, as he was impresssed by Monteux. He then became the principal conductor of the Ballet Russe, and conducted the Premiere of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring in 1913, which resulted in a riot. Yet later on, Monteux in 1932 taught conducting at his school in Paris, moved it to the South of France, then on to Maine, USA in 1942, when he became an American citizen. His pupils were Markevitch, Marriner, Previn, Maazel, Ozawa and Monteux mentored Zinman.

STRAVINSKY:(1960) Petrouchka. Compete Original version from 1911. Boston Symphony orchestra. DEBUSSY:(1961) Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun. RAVEL:(1961) Rhapsodie Espagnole. Pavane for a dead Princess.


In 1938 this conductor took up a post he held until 1988, as principal conductor of the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra. Mravinsky gave the World premieres of the 5th, 6th, 8th (which Shostakovich dedicated to Mravinsky), 9th. 10th and finally the 12th. He refused to conduct the 13th which brought to an end the conductors friendship with Shostakovich.

TCHAIKOVSKY:(1956) Symphony no 6. This is a powerful intense performance deeply felt. he last two movements are very fine indeed and the final is deeply moving, without letting the control slip. GLAZUNOV: Symphony No 4. it is a charming and well composed symphony, but distinctively Russian which Mravinsky makes the most of.


Munch was born in German Strasbourg, Alsace-Lorraine. Son of an Organist and Choir director. His brother was a conductor, cousin of conductor and composer Hans Munch. Charles was conscripted into the German army in World War one, was gassed and wounded at Verdun. In 1920 he became Professor of Violin at Strasbourg Conservatoire and assistant concertmaster of the Strassbourg Phil Orch. He was Concert Master of the Leipzig Gewandhaus orch under Furtwangler and Walter from 1926- 1933. He befriended Honegger, Roussel and Poulenc.

Munch remained conducting the Conservatore Orch during the German Occupation, believing it best to maintain the morale of the French people. He refused conducting engagements in Germany, refused to perform German contemporary music. Munch protected members of the Orchestra from the Gestapo and contributed funds from his income to the French resistance. For this he received the Legion d' Honneur with the red button in 1945. Munch liked to rehearse his players and then at the performance with that deadly smile change it all. "He kept us on our toes, it was exciting", said one of his ex players.

RAVEL: (1957)La Valse. TCHAIKOVSKY: For Strings in C Major. BARBER: Adagio for Strings. Medeas Meditation and dance of Vengeance. ELGAR: Introduction and Allegro. Boston symphony Orchestra.


Named Jeno Bleu at Birth in Budapest. His father was an amateur violinist. He gave his first concert as a violinist at age seven. In 1921 he moved to the USA and changed his name to Eugene Ormandy. Eugene being the English equivalent to Jeno. Eventually, he became conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1936 and retired in 1980 after 44 years at the helm.

RESPIGHI:(1958) Pini di Roma.(1957) Fontane di Roma. (1960) Feste Romane. La Boutique Fantasque. Philadelphia Orchestra. Ormandy plays these works with enormous gusto and panche and the orchestral virtuosity is thrilling.


A Hungarian who studied at the Franz Lizst Academy in Budapest, and one of his teachers was Bela Bartok whom he championed throughout his life. In 1914-1921, he was appointed principal conductor of the Saxon State Opera in Dresden, where he became friendly with Richard Strauss and conducted his work as well. Reiner loved music to the depths of his soul. He said that a conductor must feel the music deeply. He used body language to conduct; his face, one of his arms, and never really raised his baton above his head, using tiny movements with it. There a Fritz Reiner RCA Complete Chicago symphony Box set.

RICHARD STRAUSS: (1958) Der Rosenkavlier. Walzs arranged by Reiner. (1954) Ein Heldenleben. Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

SAWALLISCH: (1923-2013)

Wolfgang was born in Munich. At the age of 5 he was already playing the piano. Sawallisch was only 30 when he conducted the Berlin Philharmonie. When he had his debut at the Bayreuth Festspielhaus conducting Tristan und Isolde in 1957, he was the youngest conductor ever to do so. From 1971-1992 he was the director of the Bavarian State opera. I saw him conduct opera in the mid 1970's at the Munich State Opera, mainly Wagner and Richard Strauss, when I was working in the mid 1970's in that city.

WAGNER:(1961) The Flying Dutchman Overture. Rienzi Overture. Tannhauser Venusberg music (Paris version). Siegfried Siegfried Idyll. Vienna Philharmonic.(1957) Tristan und Isolde. Prelude Act 1 and 3. Bayreuth Festival orchestra. LIVE. The 3rd Prelude Tristan und Isolde is passionate.

SOLTI: (1912-1997)

Born in Budapest and studied with Bartok. He worked with Toscanini at the Salzburg Festival. Eventually, he fled to Switzerland because he was a Jew and the Nazi's were in power. Georg's highlights are musical director of Covent Garden opera company. During his ten year tenure, he raised standards to the highest international level. Georg became a British citizen in 1972. In 1969 Solti was appointed music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, a post he held for 22 years.

MENDELSSOHN:(1952) Symphony No 3. London Symphony Orchestra. (1958)Symphony No 4. Israel Philharmonic orchestra.

STOKOWSKI: (1882-1977)

Born in Marylebone, London in 1882, the first born of a cabinet maker of Polish descent and a Irish girl. He spoke in an affected mid- European brogue and claimed to have been born in Krakow. No one understood why he needed to create such lies which covered his great achievements. Maybe, it was to forget that part of his life.

HOLST:(1956) The Planets. Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. ENESCU: (1960) Roumanian Rhapsody No 1.LIZST: Hungarian Rhapsody No 2. RCA Victor symphony Orchestra.


George was born in Budapest, but grew up in Vienna. Apart from the piano, Szell studied composition with a personal friend of Brahms and with Max Reger. When he was eleven he was touring Europe, but he quickly realized he could not make a career out of being a pianist and composer. At 18 he was befriended by Richard Strauss at the Berlin Royal Court Opera. Szell credited Strauss as a major influence in his conducting style. The Clevelands orchestra lean, transparent sound, and Szell willingness to be a Orchestra builder all came from Richard Strauss. The two remained friends after Szell left the Berlin Royal Opera in 1919. Strauss always kept track of his protege to see what he was doing. George was an autocratic taskmaster and conducted Cleveland from 1946 -1970.

MENDELSSOHN:(1957) A midsummers Night's dream. Excerpts. SCHUBERT: Rosamunde. Excerpts. Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. Amsterdam.

TOSCANINI: (1867-1967)

He played the cello at the premiere of Verdi's Othello. He had conducted before, he was an assistant chorus and cellist who sailed to Brazil aged 18 with a opera touring company. The singers went on strike, the public were furious, so he was told to conduct. This he did, Aida from memory. At 31 he took over the management of La Scala, Milan, which was at its lowest ebb in its history, alongside an administrator his own age, and turned it into one of the three or four opera house in the world. There is a box set of approx 100 CDs. The complete Toscanini RCA collection.

MUSSORGSKY:(1951) Pictures at an exhibition. Arr Ravel. SIBELIUS:(1952) En Saga. TCHAIKOVSKY:(1951) The Nutcracker. The flowers dance. VON WEBER:(1951) Invitation to the Ball. BRAHMS:(1953) Hungarians dances.


Walter was an assistant conductor to Mahler and knew him fairly well. Walter conducted the great Das Lied von der Erde with the Vienna Philharmonic, with Kathleen Ferrier, the year before she died. She finished the recording but was in great pain and Walter was in tears.

MAHLER:(1950) Symphony No 1. Bayerisches Staatorchester. LIVE. MOZART:(1952) Symphony in G minor K 550. Royal Concertgebouw, Amsterdam. Live.

This booklet/review gives you an idea of what conductors are about, and how Nikisch influenced quite a few of the past and now present ones like Thielemann.

REFERENCES: Hamilton, D. The Met Encyclopedia of opera. 1987. Thames and Hudson. Lebrecht, N. The Maestro Myth. 1997. Pocket books. Penguin Classical Guide 1977, 1996 &2008. Wikipedia.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 26, 2015 5:03 PM BST

The Birthday Edition: 10 Original Albums
The Birthday Edition: 10 Original Albums
Price: £10.81

27 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars When Richter first played to his teacher, he whispered to a student" this man is a genius, just what I have been looking for.", 14 May 2015
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The box is the size of a CD sleeve, so it is very compact. The lid opens backwards. The sleeve has CD number in dark violet on a white background. The lettering "The Birthday edition" is in violet, against an ultramarine blue background. Also the picture of the original cover which is rather unusual in these Membran small box sets, next to it, details in white lettering of the musical contents. (REVIEWS BELOW). On the violet background at the bottom is the name Richter in blue and the number 100 in white. At the back on the light coloured violet background, are the track numbers, the composer, pieces to be played and the Orchestra and conductor. Darkish violet CD, with big CD number in violet on a white background. Composer and pieces to be played. No booklet, so I shall give you some information. Sound is mono and stereo. No hiss, or crackling.

Richter was born in Ukraine, 1915, died Moscow, Russia in 1997. His father was a German expatriate pianist and composer who had studied in Vienna. His mother had been a pupil of her future husband. What was unusual was that Sviatoslav was largely self taught, but his father had given him a basic education in music. Eventually he did an audition for Neuhaus a famous piano teacher at Moscow Conservatory. The piano teacher said to a student, "this man is a Genius" Although he had taught Gilels and Radu Lupu, it was said that Richter was the person he had been wanting all his life.

His Mother had fallen in love with another man during World War Two, however his father was shot because he was a German. There after he never spoke to his Mother again, until a few days before she died 20 years later. In 1945 he met Nina, a Soprano, and they remained companions all his life until he died although they never married. She died a few months later.

After winning all the prizes and being noticed in the Soviet Union, the West became interested in him. So in 1956 his Schumann recital was recorded in Prague, by DGG, followed by the Mozart K 466 piano Concerto, together with Prokofiev's 5th piano Concerto, then a compelling original Rachmaninov NO 2 piano Concerto plus preludes, all included in this box set. Now he was given permission by the authorities to travel to the West. He gave his first concert in the USA in 1960 and stayed for three months. Also travelled in England where he met Britten and they became friends and France in 1961, Leipzig 1963, Salzburg 1977 and Amsterdam in 1986.

He did not give interviews, until before his death. In later years, Richter hated planning concerts years in advance, and took to playing at very short notice in small darkened halls, with only a lamp to light the score. Richter said that it helped the audience to concentrate on the music rather then him. He is thought to be one of the great pianists of the 20th century.

SCHUMANN: (1958) Piano Concerto in A minor, op 54. The opening speed is fast and in the final do you know that vibrant quality in his playing which marks Richter out among even the great virtuoso's. (1959) Introduction and Allegro for piano and Orchestra. Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra Cond Witold Rowicki. Novelette and Toccata are fabulous performances. Full of hair-raising virtuosity, but shaped with an inspiring sense of style and musical as well as technical centered.

BRAHMS:(1960) Piano Concerto No 2. Chicago Symphony Orchestra Cond Leinsdorf. A sublime version of this concerto.

TCHAIKOVSKY:(1954) Piano Concerto No 1.Czech symphony Orchestra. Cond Karel Ancerl. This performance captures the First perfectly. However, you can hear why the Soviet Union and eventually the West were interested in Richter. The sound seems to echo slightly.

RACHMANINOFF: (1955) Piano Concerto No 1. Radio symphony Orchestra UDSSR, Moscow. Cond Kurt Sanderling. When the East German authorites built the wall to stop its citizens from leaving, they called this conductor back from Leningrad, to conduct this unknown Berlin Symphony Orchestra and build it up to equal the Berlin Philharmonic.

SAINT-SAENS:(1952) Piano Concerto No 5. Moscow Youth Orchestra Cond Kirill Kondrashin. The 5th is attractive with an oriental atmosphere, which suits Richter's playing. These early recorded pieces give you an idea of what Richter sounded like.

MUSSORGSKY: (1958) Pictures from and Exhibition. BONUS: (1953) MYSAKOVSKY Piano Sonata No 3 in C minor, op 19. Richter is playing live so it says on the Phillips cover on the Sleeve. Here we hear Richter in all his brilliance. We usually hear the orchestrated not the piano version.

RACHMANINOFF: (1959) Piano Concerto No 2. Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra cond Kurt Sanderling.
BONUS: PROKOFIEV:(1954) Piano Concerto No 1 Prague Symphony orchestra Cond Karel Ancerl. This concerto is played without a break and Richter's playing is thought very highly of here.

RACHMANINOFF:(1959) Piano Concerto No 2. Warsaw National Phalharmonie cond Stanislaw Wislocki. 6 Preludes.
No 12 in C major op 32. 1 Allegro vivace. No 13 in B flat minor op 32. 2 Allegretto. No 3 in flat flat major op 23. 2 Maestoso. No 5 in D major op 23.No 4 Andante cantable. No 6 in G minor op 23 5 Alla Marcia. No 8 in C minor op 23, 7 Allegro. This is a Marvellous performance of the Preludes. It will be interesting to compare the two Rachmaninoff's No 2 piano Concerto's.

MOZART:(1959) Piano Concerto No 22.Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra Cond Rowicki.

PROKOFIEV:(1958) Piano Concerto No 5 Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra Cond Witold Rowicki. This performance of the Prokofiev No 5 is a classic performance. it has virtuosity and brilliance.

SCHUMANN:(1956) March G Minor. Waldszenen op 82. Fantasy Pieces 0p 12 (Excerpts).Richter's supreme pianism shines through the years and this is a classic example of this fact.

LIZST: (LIVE) (1958) Harmonies du soir ( Etudes d' execution transcendante, No 11 in D-flat Major). Feux Follets (Etudes d' execution transcendante, No 5 in B flat Major). Valse oubliee No 1 in F sharp Major. Valse oubliee No 2 in A flat major.

SCHUBERT: Moment musical C major op 94, 1. Impromptu e flat Major, op 90, 2. Impromptu in A flat Major op 90, 4. a bit of coughing. But there is nothing like a live performance to get an idea at how brilliant Richter was.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 15, 2015 1:48 PM BST

80 years of the Orchestre National de France
80 years of the Orchestre National de France
Price: £37.26

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars These recordings capture the best of French music making., 9 May 2015
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The booklet states "Over 1000 research visits to the National Audio visual institute (INA), near 400 concerts listened to, 400 hours of documentary work and as many devoted to the digitalisation and restoration of documents. Thus this album represents a veritable odyssey through the sound archives of the Orchestral National. Given the variety of recordings presented here, our choices were always governed by a narrative one, in order to render a true account of the history of the eighty years of its existence, which charts the important evolution of the orchestra".(REVIEWS BELOW) So this album is about music making when the unexpected can happen in a concert. That unique communion of collective listening on the radio or in a live concert hall. Therefore, much of the music is live and the orchestra has a particular sound and character of its own, in keeping with its 80 year history.

The 8 CD box set is a very subtly designed box, well it is French and they are known for style in Paris. Over all it is black with a central gold ring with two half rings, with the orchestras name in the middle, on the back details about the orchestra in Gold. Then the composers, conductors and soloists. The sleeves have the rings in white with coloured lines coming from the middle white ring. CD number at the top, below the names of the conductors. At the back are the track numbers, in the colour of the lines on the front. Music to be played and conductor. The CD has a white ring in the middle, the CD number written on it, the conductors also. Coloured lines coming out of the white center. Colours are different kinds of blue, orange,Pink, violet and red.

The sound has been remastered 24 bits 96kHz and the tapes have been restored. The booklet is 176 pages in French and English. No translations of songs. Many pictures throughout, including line drawings and cartoons and posters. Then the History of the Orchestra, how it all began, the changes it went through during the Second World war and afterwards. Also details of the recordings under the CD numbers; very informative. The index has the CD number, the composer and music to be played in the colour of the lines on the disc, very subtle. From my experience with box sets, it shows that people have gone to a lot of trouble over this set. I wish many of the other 50 CD box sets gave as much information as this 8 CD set.


CLAUDE DEBUSSY: 1958. Nocturnes. Cond Desire-Emile Inghelbrecht. Nuages. Fetes. Sirenes. Inghelbrecht knew Debussy in his youth. Out of ten recorded versions from 1948-1963 which INA posseses, this performance has not been released before; dates from a festival in March 1958 commemorating the 40th anniversary of the composers death. This version is superior to many others recorded for radio, particular the third Nocturne Sirenes.

EDOUARD LALO:(1970) Le Roi D' Ys overture. Cond Paul Paray. An unpublished recording is all the more precious since Paul Paray, fond of the work, never recorded it with the National. He was a conductor from the first years of the orchestra, but during 1941 in Marseille he walked out when the Vichy regime enforced racial laws excluding the Orchestra's Jewish musicians. After the war he returned to the National.

ALBERT ROUSSEL:(1966) Bacchus et Ariane suite no 2. Cond Charles Munch. He was always promoting Roussel and carried the score on tour with him.

FRANCIS POULENC: (1944) Chansons villageoises. Cond Roger Desormiere. Baritone Pierre Bernac. Only recorded a few week before the liberation of Paris, was broadcast during the few hours after liberation over the radio.

ALBERIC MAGNARD (1944) Hymne a la justice. Cond Manuel Rosenthal. The composer was killed at the onset of World war One. This performance was conducted by Rosenthal on September 28th, 1944, during a concert in honour of the Allied forces. Listening to this version you are struck by the extraordinary tension: the musicians seem inspired with a feverish emotion that is close to fury.


BEETHOVEN:(1959) Coriolan overture. Cond Carl Schuricht. At 80 the fire was still as ardent in this overture by Beethoven.

GUSTAV MAHLER: (1957) Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen. Cond Carl Schuricht. Fischer-Dieskau singer. The conductor gives Fischer-Dieskau all the expressive space he requires. It was said of the singer, he had three voices, a bass voice, rich and deep, a baritone, expressive and in the high register the facility of a tenor.

RICHARD STRAUSS:(1957) Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche. Cond Josef Krips. His teacher was Felix Weingartner. Krips enjoyed telling the orchestra for the "first twenty five years of his career, a conductor has everything to learn from Orchestra; only after that long is he equipped to teach orchestras". So Krips could do anything with this Orchestra.

ALBAN BERG:(1953) Altenberglieder. Cond Jascha Horenstein. Irma Kolassi soprano. Horenstein was an assistant of Furtwanger at the Berlin Philharmonic, before fleeing the Nazi Regime in 1933. Kolassi was an exceptional sight reader with perfect pitch. She was considered to be the finest musician of her era of all the singers in Paris. This was the premiere of the work in France.

MAURICE RAVEL:(1955) Deux Chants hebraiques. Cond Paul Kletzki. Victoria de los Angeles soprano. Kletzki and the orchestra communicated very well and this comes across in the music making.

IGOR STRAVINSKY: (1956) Firebird Suite(1919) Cond Andre Cluytens. This piece gives you an idea of the incredible energy Cluytens could bring to an orchestra. An unreleased recording.


SERGEI PROKOFIEV: Romeo and Juliet Suites No 1 & 2. Cond Sergiu Celibidache. Beauty of sound is constant, intonation irreproachable, precision faultless, the conductor's personality can therefore impose himself. Never has Prokofiev seemed so beautiful and complete wrote a critic. However another stated he listens to himself conduct with complete self satisfaction. He uses broad tempi and may hurry up near the completion of the piece.

MAURICE RAVEL: Sheherazade. Cond Leonard Bernstein. Marilyn Horne. Mezzo Soprano. A French critic praising Bernstein wrote "he put all his fervour- expression as if crucified by poetic beauty into his Sheherazade". Horne is perhaps more fascinating in the public version presented here, more refined, with phrasing which does justice to the moment of the concert.

IGOR STRAVINSKY:(1980) The Rite of Spring. Cond Lorin Maazel. This is a version recorded before the 1980 Salzburg festival version of this piece which blew the orchestra and public away. The finest version I have heard of the Rite of Spring is by Pierre Monteux conducting the San Francisco Orchestra in 1945. After all, he conducted the Premiere of it.


AMBROISE THOMAS:(1981) Raymond ou le secret de la reine. Cond Bernstein. Bernstein had a ball with this piece. But the French Musiologists certainly don't take Thomas's Raymond seriously.

CLAUDE DEBUSSY:(1984) La Mer. Cond Seiji Ozawa. Ozawa learnt a lot from Charles Munch, but fails to mention Pierre Monteux who taught him at his school for conducting. The orchestra seemed to like Ozawa and played though they meant it, if they do not like you, they play with a lack of enthusiasm. This interpretation of La Mer is surprisingly good, for Ozawa is a controversal figure in the conducting world, sounding much like his mentor Van Karajan.

LUIGI CHERUBINI: (2004) Lodoiska Overture. Cond Riccardo Muti. This guest conductor likes to share new Horizons with this orchestra.

JOSEPH HAYDN:(2008) Symphony No 39. Cond Muti.


HECTOR BERLIOZ: (1993) Le Corsaire overture. Cond Charles Dutoit. Very swift, a real crowd favourite as they showed.

DIMITRI SHOSTAKOVICH:(2004) Symphony No 1. Cond Kurt Masur. There is nobody to touch Gergiev today in these Shostakovich symphonies. He has just produced a bluray set with them and all the Concerto's. What Masur did say that the only way to understand these symphonies is to live in a dictatorship. I have. What Masur also said is to approach him like Beethoven, for he was disenchanted with the situation at the time, losing his revolutionary spirit.

RICHARD WAGNER:(2013) Prelude and Liebestod. Cond Daniele Gatti.

MAURICE RAVEL:(2012) Daphnis Et Chloe suite no 2. Cond Gatti. The latest conductor of the National is Gatti. He says that the orchestra taught him a lot about French music. He certainly captures the feel of this piece.


(1964) PETER TCHAIKOSKY: Concerto for Violin and Orchestra. Christan Ferras Violin, conduct Eugen Jochum, he of Bruckner fame. His recordings of that Composer are found in a EMI boxset 1-9 symphonies. Ferras playing is charged by staggering intensity; the musician seems to put his life on the line every time he picks up his bow. His father attempted to live his life through his son and placed an enormous pressure on him. Ferras committed suicide in the end.

SERGE PROKOFIEV:(1969) Piano Concerto No 3. Martha Algerich- piano. Claudio Abbado Conductor.They both took our breath away, stunning in its absolute respect of music at its most dynamic. Our choices were open to criticism, but our selection criteria were governed, above all, by the ever fragile alchemy between a conductor, a soloist and a orchestra, by the unique character of certain unedited recordings, by the quality of the sound takes and by the state of conservation of these documents.

JOHANNES BRAHMS:(1972) Violin Concerto. Violin Isaac Stern. Conductor Eugene Ormandy. They both give an electrifying account of this piece.

ANTONIN DVORAK:(1993) Concerto for cello and Orchestra op 104. Yo-Yo-Yo Ma. Conducted by Charles Dutoit.


HENRI DUTILLEUX: (1951) Symphony No 1. Cond Roger Desormiere.

FRANCIS POULENC:(1961) La Dame de Monte-Carlo. Denise Duval soprano. Cond George Pretre. "You are so like me I feel split in two" wrote the composer to Duval. In the music, She loses her money and commits suicide. A gem.

OLIVIER MESSIAEN:(1966) Sept Haikai. Yvonne Loriod Piano. Cond Ozawa. This was Ozawa's first concert with the national. And it was the first time that this work to whom it is dedicated to by Messiaen had conducted the work with pianist Loriod.

IANNIS XENAKIS:(1968) ST/48. Cond Lucas Foss.

LUCIANO FOSS:(1976) Calmo. Cond Berio. Mezzo soprano Cathy Berberian. Otherworldly, I like it.

REFERENCES: Booklet Orchestre National de France. Eight years of Live radio Concerts. Le Bail and Picard. Trans Grice. An eighty year adventure. C.Wasselun. Trans J. Grice.

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