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Ultrarunner (Perth-West Australia)

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Mstislav Rostropovich - Legendary Recordings
Mstislav Rostropovich - Legendary Recordings
Offered by Music-Shop
Price: £9.65

38 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rostropovich's recordings from 1950-1960 are brilliant., 17 April 2014
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The cardboard box is the usual size and strength for 10 CDs. The back has details of the music to be played. The sleeves have a huge CD number and composers on its front, and on the back in white lettering on a black background, the composer, track numbers and music to be played. Also, the conductor and date recorded. The CD is red with words in white. A huge CD number is at the top, with composers on the disc. The sound is Mono and stereo, generally quite good. But you do hear Rostropovich as you have never really heard him before, for most of the recordings were made with Moscow Symphony orchestra's.

As there is no booklet, I shall give some details about Rostropovich, born 27th March 1927 in Baku, today the capital of Azerbaijan. He was raised as the son of musical parents. At 16 he went to the Moscow Conservatory where he studied piano, cello, conducting and composition, in part with Shostakovich. Both of Shostakovich's cello concerto's are dedicated to Rostropovich. In 1960 he met Britten, who was inspired to write works for him, so the cellist played them at the Aldeburgh festival. Britten knew Shostakovich and they kept in contact until the composers death in 1975. Thus, famed as a cellist since his competition success in the late 1940's in Russia, and especially since his Western debut from the mid 1950's, he developed a career as a conductor in the 1960's. Eventually, Rostropovich became music director of the National Symphony orchestra of Washington D.C.

CD 1. (1959) SHOSTAKOVICH: Cello Concerto No 1.Philadelphia Orchestra cond Eugene Ormandy. Within a few months of the first performance in Russia and within days of the first Western performance, Shostakovich attended the recording session in Philadelphia and gave his approval to the performances recorded. Rostropovich gives a uniquely authoritative reading, Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orch accompanying superbly with a precision and warmth rare with a new score.(1960) TCHAIKOVSKY: Pezzo Capriccioso. Moscow Symphony Orch cond Kondrashin. Rarely heard. The Cellist does justice to the work. (1954) CHOPIN: Introduction and Polonaise brillante in C major,op 3. The passion Rostropovich brings to this work helps you to understand why he was so popular in the West.

CD 2. (1953) SAINT-SAENS: Cello Concerto No 1. Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra cond Stolyarov. Proably this piece has never been played better. Swift tempi. (1958) FAURE: Piano Quartet No 1.Gilels-Piano, Kogan-violin, Cello- Rostropovich and Rudolf Barshai-viola. (Known for his Mahler conducting) Three masters of their craft playing this Quartet faster then usual but may appeal.

CD 3. (1954) SCHUMANN: Cello Concerto in A major, op 129. Moscow Symphony Orchestra cond Samuel Samosud. Recorded before Rostropovich toured Europe. You can understand why he was so well regarded by his playing of this piece. 5 Stucke im Volkston (Excerpts). V. Yampolsky piano. (1956)Traumerei (Kinderszenen). Captures the Romantic tone of this Cellist very well. SCHUBERT: Impromptu D 899 No 3. ( trans Heifetz/Rostropovich.).

CD 4. (1957) DVORAK Cello Concerto in B minor op 104. Radio City orchestra of the UDSSR cond Boris Khaikin. I compared this version with Von Karajan's 1969 Dvorak Cello Concerto played by Rostropovich. Von Karajan's tempi is very slow. Piatigorsky Cellist. Philadelphia Orchestra cond Ormandy, not as good as the 1957 Rostropovich version; swift tempi and playing that is highly romantic and emotional.

CD 5 (1950) PROKOFIEV: Sonata for cello and piano. Piano Richter. A finely wrought and rewarding score,it deserves greater popularity. This recording should recify this situation. (1956) RACHMANINOV: Vocalise op 34 Nr. 14. A piece worth hearing.(1954) GLAZUNOV: Chant du menestrel. Moscow Youth Orch cond Kondrachin. Usually, used as a filler on a CD, but should be played more often. BORODIN: Dances from Prince Igor. GRANADOS: Intermezzo. (Goyescas).

CD 6. (1954) PROKOFIEV: Symphony-Concerto for Cello and orchestra, op 125. Adagio from (Cinderella). Leningrad City Orchestra cond Kurt Sanderling. The composer collaborated with Rostropovich in Op 125. There are numerous challenges that this score poses which obviously the cellist relished. Adagio from Cinderella sums up Rostropovich's art. Words are too limited to explain.

CD 7-8.(1955). J.S BACH. Six suites for unaccompanied Cello. Rostropovich has a more extrovert manner in these 6 suites then other Cellists. His is a more Romantic view. The results are very moving. They could attract those who are not interested in Bach's Solo Cello work.

CD 9.(1956) BEETHOVEN: Piano Trio in B flat major, op 97. Emil Gilels-Piano ( Bluray Collector's Edition Piano),Leonid Kogan- violin, Rostropovich. ( Bluray Collector's Edition Violin). See my reviews.

CD 10.(1951) HAYDN. Piano trio D major. (1958) SCHUMANN: Piano trio D minor op 63. See above. This work is generally thought of as the finest of Schumann's piano trio's. It certainly belongs among his most admired works in the Chamber output.

This 10 CD set shows Rostropovich at his very best, so it is highly recommended,and is well worth the price.

REFERENCES:Fanning, D. Shostakovich: The 15 symphonies 2007. Warner Classics. Penguin Classical Guides 1976 and 1996.Reed, P. Britten the Performer. 2013. Decca Music group Ltd.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 20, 2014 7:47 PM BST

Luciano Pavarotti Edition 1 : The First Decade (Decca box set)
Luciano Pavarotti Edition 1 : The First Decade (Decca box set)
Price: £76.49

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Few people would disagree Pavarotti had an extrordinarily beautiful voice., 10 April 2014
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This Decca Luciano Pavarotti edition box set- the first decade, Pavarotti 50 years 1964-2014, is the size of a 33 and a third long playing record.(LP) The front of the box has a picture of Pavarotti, behind on a black background, the operas and concerts on the 27 CDs. Just to remind you of the old days which I remember very well, you are given a EP with Pavarotti's first recordings. Thank goodness they are included on CD 27. (Bonus). In the middle of the box is a linen tape. This is to help you lift out a LP sized cardboard sleeve, which stretches into another two; approximately, 3 foot. Inside is the picture of theater boxes and a curtain in the middle. Each CD is inserted into slits and fits into a space; they are securely held amid this 3 foot Sleeve, which folds up. The CDs are black with the CD number,composer and opera printed in white. On the back of this unique sleeve are the CD numbers, operas, singers, orchestra and conductor. So the first one is 1-10, second 11-19 and third 20-27. I already own the Bruno Walter edition, which is this LP size, so it is no problem for me. But I thought I would describe this box set in detail, for foremost in my mind is the customer, who is thinking of buying this set sight unseen. Therefore, my attitude requires a different type of review.

The sound is by Decca,and that firm was renowned for it as you know already. All recordings are newly remastered 96 K (looks like it), HZ-24 Bit. I am not a tech head, but whatever the engineers did, the sound is marvellous. I use a 20 year old Sharp 3 disc holder digital player with huge speakers, and the sound allows you to hear the individual singers and orchestra. I also use a Sennheiser 170 ear phones which is useful. The booklet called the first decade, 1964-1974 has a three page essay on Pavarotti's life and upbringing, in English,Italian French and German. Then a picture of the sleeve of the opera concerned. Next page, the roles the singers are playing, and orchestra and conductor. Next page, CD and track numbers, then the arias. Synopsis in English and German. Through out the booklet, or coffee table book, are black and white,as well as colour pictures. English translations can be downloaded as a PDF file. There are details on how you do this at the front of the book. Decca is one of the few companies that has provided English translations. For example, Ashkenazy 50 years on Decca. Solti Wagner opera box set with a CD rom with translations of libretti.

Now for a little historical background. Pavarotti was born in 1935 on the outskirts of Modena, N. Italy. His father had a marvellous tenor voice, and they would listen to recordings by Gigli ( Great recordings Phonographe 1921-1943). Tito Schipa (the greatest tenor Award. Recommended by the Gramophone Magazine). Martinelli. (Othello-Rethberg, Martinelli, Tibbett, cond Panizza 1940. Verdi at the Met, or Naxos) Caruso RCA recordings. and Pertile, Toscanini's favourite tenor. (Aida, Pertile. Dusolina Giannini,La Scala, Milan orch, cond Sabajno 1928. Sound is good.Phonographe-Nuova era 1994 Italy). Pavarotti was torn between being a goal keeper and a singer. Both he and Freni were childhood friends and their mothers worked together. Also, his father and he sung in the local choir. After voice training he sung his first opera in 1961, outside Modena. His real break came in 1965, when Joan Sutherland and Richard Bonynge, her conductor husband, asked Pavarotti to join the Williamson-Sutherland Company, which was going to tour Australia. He stated publicly that he learnt his breathing technique and how to pace himself from Sutherland, and that Jussi Bjorling was his inspiration. (The worldstar live on stage 10 CDs). Also,Di Stefano(partnered Callas on many of her recordings) was his mentor and friend.

Sutherland learnt from her mother Muriel by imitation. She had studied with a Mathilde Marchesi(1821-1913) pupil and was a Mezzo that never sung professionally. Marchesi groomed Nellie( Mitchell-Armstrong) Melba, named herself after Melbourne. Read "I am Melba" by Ann Blainey, published by Black Ink, Australia, 2009. Marchesi trained Emma Eames(Nimbus records), Calve, Kurz, Sanderson, Mary Garden and New Zealander Frances Alda, who was the wife of Gatti-Casazza. He was director of the Met from 1908-1935. Before that director of La Scala.(Alda, Victor recordings 1909-15 Romophone 2CDs). Marchesi drew on the traditions of Bel Canto, and aimed for evenness throughout the register, precise attack, excellent intonation, brilliance and ease at the top of the voice, and vocal longevity. Sutherland after finishing training and winning singing competitions, went to London. When she first joined Covent Garden, everyone except her now husband, Bonynge, thought of her as a Spinto soprano-Aida or a Tosca. But both Joan and Bonynge appreciated Galli- Curci, a coloratura. So Sutherland's voice was moulded into a voice with a girlish quality, replete with ornaments and used as a vehicle of virtuosity rather then of emotion and meaning.

Callas told Bonynge, "you have set back my work a hundred years". Sutherland knew she was a different type of Coloratura, and must do it her way. Along with Callas she contributed to the renaissance of bel canto. Her diction was criticized, so during the 1970's she strove to improve it. Natalie Dessay, the French soprano said "She had a huge voice, as large as that of a top range Wagnerian soprano. She was able to lighten suddenly and to take this quick coloratura and hold high notes like a Coloratura soprano, yet with a huge voice which is very rare". These details are important, for how will you understand this set without them. Also I write reviews not only for those who are experienced collectors, but for those who are new to Opera and Classical music.

BELLINI: BEATRICE DI TENDA.( 1966) Sutherland, Pavarotti, Veasey, Ward, Ambrosian Opera chorus. London Symphony Orchestra Cond Bonynge. This was Bellini's last opera but one, coming after La Sonnambula and Norma and before I Puritani. Bellini was always going to revise the score, but died before he could. Orrey states "Bellini felt that this opera was worthy to rank beside Norma. It is in truth a most interesting score. For with the chorus, there is a much more subtler approach then any of of his other operas.They comment on the inner feelings of the main characters." The piece remains a vehicle for an exceptional prima donna with a big enough voice and brilliant enough coloratura. That is why Sutherland owns this part.There are dazzling examples of her art in this opera. Pavarotti is highly responsive. Also, Bonynge, whose powers as a Bellini conductor are most impressive. A beautiful performance. In opera Bonynge would always use the original complete score and replace the cuts.

DONIZETTI: LA FILLE DU REGIMENT.(1967) Sutherland, Pavarotti, Sinclair, Malas, Orchstra and chorus of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden cond Bonynge.Joan Sutherland has rarely, if ever, made a recording so enjoyable as this. Here she can show her vocal brilliance, her ability to convey pathos and her sense of fun. Pavarotti's brief but important solo in the final to Act 1, prompted the much advertised boast" King of the high C's". His singing is dazzling.

DONIZETTI: L' ELISIR D'AMORE.( 1970) Sutherland, Pavarotti, Cossa, Malas, Ambrosian Opera chorus. English chamber orchestra. Cond Bonynge. Sutherland makes Adina, a more substantial figure than usual. In the key role of Nemorino Pavarotti proves ideal. Malas is a superb Dulcamara. Bonynge points the skipping rhythms delectably.

VERDI: MACBETH.( 1970) Fischer- Dieskau, Ghiaurov, Pavarotti, Ambrosian Opera chorus. London Symphony Orchestra cond Gardelli. The reading fairly crackles with excitement. This is the original 1847 version of this opera, but Verdi made considerable changes for the Paris revival, eight years later. Pavarotti and Ghiaurov have rarely been equaled in their roles. The tenor is suave and phrases with exemplary line. This is a great performance. The Bass has a perfect voice for Banquo. Fischer-Dieskau's voice is too light for the part of Macbeth, but it is still a compelling performance. Souliotis copies Callas, but her voice is the type that Verdi wanted for this part, "a dark voice of the devil." A fine performance is the DVD of Macbeth conducted by Sinopoli, with the Orchestra of the German Opera, Berlin. Bruson, Zampieri who is a Lady Macbeth of one's dreams, James Morris and Dennis O' Neill.

VERDI: RIGOLETTO.(1971) Milnes, Sutherland, Pavarotti, Talvela, Tourangeau. Ambrosian Opera chorus. London Symphony Orchestra cond Bonynge. A magnificent set. Gilda is lovingly sung by Sutherland. Pavarotti is effortlessly stylish, full of elegance. This is a fine set. Not forgetting the Callas version, with Gobbi and Di Stefano cond Serafin. A 1930 version with Stracciari, Capsir, Borgioli, La Scala, Milan Orch cond Molajoli.

DONIZETTI: LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR.(1971) Sutherland, Pavarotti, Milnes, Ghiaurov, Ryland Davies, Tourangeau. Orchestra and Chorus of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, cond Bonynge. No one outshines Sutherland in this opera. her voice is warmer and more open than before. The coloratura is given more meaning. The soprano makes the character more human. Pavarotti's voice is not only a tender, ardent lover but a man who carries with him the pain of his family history.His arias in the last act are most beautifully sung. Milnes is in superb voice. Ghiaurov sings with assurance. A first rate cast. Bonynge conducts this opera with dramatic flair. In the 1955 live Version with the Orch RIAS Berlin, Von Karajan conducts a white hot performance. Callas creates a more ardent Lucia than her 1953 version. She gives a performance of a lifetime.This is the best of Di Stefano's Edgardo's.

PUCCINI: TURANDOT.(1972) Sutherland, Pavarotti, Caballe, Ghiaurov, Pears, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Zubin Metha. He conducts swiftly and with energy. Sutherland is good in this part, she makes Turandot more human. I sometimes wonder if Serafin was right, she would have made a good Lady Macbeth. Maybe, he saw something that Bonynge refused to. Pavarotti gives a performance beautiful in sound, strong on detail. Nessun Dorma was the aria he made famous as part of the three tenors at the 1990 World Cup. Caballe sings well as Liu. Turandot from 1938. Gina Cigna (Turandot) was trained by Calve, the great French singer. Francesco Merli,(Calaf), Magda Olivero (Liu), who retired and came back in the 1950's. She sung Tosca when she was 65 at the Met, She reduced the audience to tears. If you have never heard of her, you have missed a truely great singer. Orchestra dell EIAR dir Torino. Cond Franco Ghione. Phonographe. Nuova Era 1996.

PUCCINI:LA BOHEME. (1972) Pavarotti, Freni, Panerai, Harwood, Ghiaurov, Matteo, Berliner Philharmoniker cond Von Karajan.It is a highly atmospheric reading. But there is an electric intensity which happens in a live performance. Pavarotti is an inspired Rodolfo, with expressive passion, while Freni is a seductive Mimi. Fine singing throughout the set. Beecham's Boheme cond RCA Victor orch is a classic, with de los Angeles and Jussi Bjorling

BELLINI: I PURITANI. (1973) Sutherland, Pavarotti, Cappuccilli, Ghiaurov, chorus of the Royal Opera house, Covent Garden. London Symphony Orchestra, cond Bonynge who adopts a more urgently expressive style. Sutherland is fresh and bright. Son vergin vezzosa is taken dangerously fast, the extra bite is exhilarating. Pavarotti, with his most beautiful of tenor voices, shows himself a remarkable Bellini stylist. Ghiaurov and Cappuccilli make up an impressive cast.

PUCCINI: MADAMA BUTTERFLY.(1974) Freni, Pavarotti, Ludwig, Kerns, Vienna Philharmonic cond Von Karajan. The singing is remarkable. Freni is an enchanting Butterfly. Pavarotti a imaginative Pinkerton, and Ludwig is a splendid Suzuki. However, the problem is Von Karajan's often slow conducting; he starts off quickly, then plods along, especially in the love duets. A very good Butterfly is Barbirolli's, who conducts the Rome opera house orchestra, with Bergonzi, Panerai, and Renata Scotto. She has been compared to Claudia Muzio. According to J.B Steane, "she was probably the most imaginative soprano to be heard in the Italian repertoire between Krusceniski and Callas; she commanded tragic dignity and the greatest depth of feeling. Lauri-Volpi writes of Muzio " singing with that unique voice of hers made of tears and sighs and restrained inner fire." Romophone the complete HMV 1911 and Edison 1920 -25 recordings.

An interesting Madame Butterfly is that Conducted by Charles Rosekrans, with the Hungarian State House Orchestra. Maria Spacagna, Sharon Graham. It is the World premiere recording of the original 1904 La Scala version. Vox classics, 4 CDs. The 1904 premiere at La Scala was a failure. Then there were revisons for the next performance at Brescia, which was successful. But the changes to the Paris Butterfly, for the 1906 version,is the one we know today. You can programme the various discs if you wish. The CD Great voices at Teatro Regio in Turin, has the following, Storchio and De Luca who were in the failed Butterfly. Krusceniski in the successful Brescia version. Cesira Ferrani who was Manon in the premiere of Manon Lescaut and Mimi in La Boheme.

DONIZETTI: LA FAVORITA.(1974) Bacquier, Cossotto, Pavarotti, Ghiaurov, de Palma, Cotrubas. Orchestra Teatro Communale di Bologna. Cond Bonynge. This opera has Pavarotti in freshest voice. His singing is phenomenal. Cossotto gives a magnificent performance. Cotrubas is sweetness itself. This opera shows just how deeply Donizetti influenced the development of Verdi.

VERDI: REQUIEM.(1967) Sutherland, Horne, Pavarotti, Tavela, Vienna Philharmonic cond Solti. An extroverted version by Solti.Horne shows why she was a great mezzo. Pavarotti in Ingemisco gives us glimpses of the great tenor he was to become. Toscanini's version with the 1951 NBC version is brilliant. Nelli, Barbieri, Di Stefano, Siepi,Peerce. Luisi's DVD version, conducting the Sachsische Staatskapelle Dresden is good. Recorded at the reopening of the Dresden Frauenkriche 2005

VERDI and DONIZETTI ARIAS Wiener Opernorchester cond Downes.(1968). Verdi :Luisa Miller: Oh! fede negar potessi. Quando le sere al placido. I due Fosari: Ah si. ch'io sento ancora. Dal piu remoto esiglio. Un ballo in Maschera: Forse la soglia attinse. Ma se m'e forze perderti. Macbeth : O figli, O gigli miei. Ah, la paterna mano. Donizetti: Lucia di Lammermoor: Tombe degl'avi miei . Fra poco a me ricvero. Il Duca d' Alba: Inosservato, penetrava in questo sacro rocesso. La Favorita: Favorita del re! Spirto gentil. "This is Pavarotti at his best.Stunningly beautiful"-T. Bonus: Rescigno conducting the Wiener opernorchester.(1969). Rossini: William Tell. Ah.. non mi Lasciar, O speme di vendetta! O muto asil del pianto. Bellini: I puritani. A te, o cara with Arleen Auger soprano. Verdi: Il trovatore. Di qual tetra luce..Ah si ben mio..Di quella pira. Cilea: L' arlesiana. E la solita storia.

PAVAROTTI IN CONCERT.Bonynge Orchestra del Teatro Communale di Bologna (1973). Bononcini: Griselda. Per La gloria d' adorarvi. Handel: Atalanta. Care selve. Scarlatti: Gia il sole dal Gange. Bellini: Ma rendi pur contento. Dolente immagine di Fille mia. Malinconia, ninta gentile. Bella nice che d'amore. Vanne, o rosa fortunata. Tosti : La Serenata. Luna d' estate. Malia. Non t'amo piu. Resipighi: Nevicata. Pioggia. Nebbie. Rossini: La Danza. Leone Magiera cond New Philharmonia.(1971) Donizetti: Don Pasquale. Com'e gentil. Boito. Ogni mortal mister...Giunto sul passo estremo.Ponchielli: La Gioconda Cielo e mar. Puccini: La boheme. Che gelida manina. Pietri: maristella. lo conosco un giardino.

BONUS RECORDINGS. Puccini La Boheme. Che gelida manina. Tosca. E lucevan le stelle. Verdi: Rigoletto. Questo Quella. La donna e mobile. Parmi veder le lagrime mia. Orchestra Royal opera house, Covent Garden, Cond Downes. London 1964.First recording for Decca. Includes operatic debut as Rodolfo La Boheme. 1961( Live). Bellini: I Capuleti e I Montecchi. E serbato a questo acciaro. Si, m'abbraccia..L'amo tanto e m e si cara?. Cond Abbado.(live)(1966). Massenet: Manon with Freni, La Scala, Milan cond Maag.(live) 1969. There is a CD published by Opera 72.49 mins. I own it.

I hope you like this set as much as I did, with Pavarotti at his most freshest. What a wonderful lyrical tenor he was. Please read the beginning of this review before you buy this set, to stop any confusion which has arisen.

REFERENCES: Blyth,A. Opera on Record.1979. Hutchinson. Booklet Luciano Pavarotti edition-the first decade. Christiansen, R. Prima Donna. A History. 1995. Pimlico. Gramophone Classical music guide 2009. Gruber,P. The Met Guide to recorded opera.1993. Thames and Hudson. Hussey, D. Verdi. 1975. Dent and sons. Orrey,L. Bellini.1973 Dent and sons. Penguin Classical guides 1993,1996 & 2008. Steane, J. The grand Tradition. 70 years of singing on record. 1900-1970. Warrack, J and West, E. The Oxford Dictionary of opera. 1992. Oxford University press.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 5, 2014 8:27 AM BST

Beethoven: Collectors Edition Piano [Glenn Gould, Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli] [Blu-ray] [2014]
Beethoven: Collectors Edition Piano [Glenn Gould, Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli] [Blu-ray] [2014]
Dvd ~ Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli
Price: £36.13

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An insight into the pianist in full flight., 5 April 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The Yellow collectors Edition-piano is the companion to the Light green violin edition by Ideal Audience. Whereas, the Violin bluray was 1045 minutes, the piano edition is 945 minutes, each on one disc only. So, in the future we will probably see the entire Wagner Ring cycle on one disc. I shall give details of each pianist and the pieces they play. The sound is good, but the black and white film varies from good to fuzzy. There is more coloured film in this piano version, than the violin edition. The booklet has details of the pianist's life plus music they play.

GLENN GOULD: The film called the Alchemist, is by Bruno Monsaingeon, is in 4 parts and in colour. Made in Toronto, 1974. He also made a film, La Musique et la nature in Black and white about the cellist Tortelier in 1972, Germany,found in the edition about the Violin and Cello. Bruno mentions that this is the first time you have probably seen Gould. "He is notorious for his extreme eccentricity. His career was cut short at 32, for he resolved never to be seen in public again, as he hated the whole hedonistic circus. He is a legend amongest other pianists".

Gould comes in carrying something, and puts it near the piano. " What is that " says Bruno. Mortified, Gould replies," This thing is my chair, without which I cannot function. It is apart of my family." "Really", says the astonished Bruno. The chair in question, is small, old and tattered, has a frame and legs, with hardly any seat left. He sits very low down at the piano. "How long have you had it". " For 21 years". Looking at the questioner as if he was being rude. "Why did you give up playing concerts." "I was not prepared for the blood sport of concert going. Once it was thrust upon me, I felt it was appalling. I was distinctly uncomfortable." Bruno let him carry on in that manner for a while. " A concert is outdated. I have no wish to have personal contact with the public".

Bruno asks Gould about his manner of recording. " Most pianists record their music and leave the cutting to others, but you cut the recording tape." "Yes," Gould warming to his subject. " It may be egotistical, but I like to have control, very undemocratic, in other ways I am democratic, for I would like the listener of my records, to change it around to their liking." He then explains. Bruno is lost, so am I. At times he does sing when playing; his Mother taught him that. I can understand him not liking a crowd and wishing to record in the studio, but why would he want to be filmed. I have only given you a teaser, the rest you will have to find out by buying this Bluray. But I will add, that for me, music should be shared. I like nothing better then a live concert, opera, or recording. Also, a soloist, or conductor, who loves what they are doing, and cannot do without the stage like Bernstein. However,Gould's way is valid and he has many followers. Some of his recordings are now considered classics in their field.

SCHOENBERG: Intermezzo. BACH: Sarabande from Bach's Suite no 1. SCRIABIN -Desir. WAGNER: Die Meistersingers piano version (much singing). WEBERN: Variation op 27. BERG: Sonata op 1. BACH: Partita no 6. (157.18 minutes.)

ARTURO BENEDETTI MICHELANGELI: He was famed for cancelling at the last minute, he became the scourge of agents and concert -organisers the world over. But anyone who did experience one of the few concerts he gave was unlikely to forget it. The Debussy Preludes became a benchmark for future pianists. He was a perfectionist and he practiced for years before he was prepared to perform them on stage.

SCARLATTI: Sonata in C minor, K 11. Sonata in C major, K 159. CHOPIN: Mazurka in g sharp minor, op 33 No 1. Mazurka in B minor, op 33 no 44. DEBUSSY: Hommage a Rameau from images, Set 1. Paris 1965. Black and white. DEBUSSY: Preludes, Book 1. Colour. Paris 1978. His Preludes are sublime. ( 68 37 minutes )

GEORGES CZIFFRA: He fought in the Second World War, and ended up in a Russian Gulag. Then a botched attempt to flee Communist Hungary saw him sent to prison for three years. Thereafter, he and his family were allowed to leave and he ended up in France. He never lost the ability to play works almost as if he was improvising them and this gave him a freedom which more conservatively educated pianists probably never had. He went on to perform with his son, Gyorgy junior, an extremely gifted conductor. There is an inner trust between the the two artists; the son's wonderful conducting and the father's sensitive concentration on interplay with the orchestra in their recording of the Franck piece on this bluray.

His son died at the age of 38 in 1981. Georges never played with an orchestra again and died in 1994. Gyorgy jnr nearly died as a child during imprisonment with his family. In 1981 he set fire to his house in the Paris suburbs. A suicide note was found in the remains, thus his death was ruled a suicide. The unoffical story however, is that his death was an accident.( Wikipedia)

CHOPIN: Polonaise in A flat major "Heroic". LISZT: Etude d' execution transcendante in F minor no 10. Hungarian Rhapsody no 6.Theatre des Champs-Elysees, Paris 1961. CHOPIN: Scherzo in B flat minor, op 31. Impromptu in G flat-major,op 51. LISZT: Gnomenreigen-Concert study no 2. Valse-Impromptu, grand Galop chromatiques. Paris, 1963. FRANCK: Variations Symphoniques, Georges Cziffra Piano, orchestre national de l'Ortf. cond Gyorgy Cziffra Jnr. Paris. 1965. I like Cziffra, he smiles, and looks as though he is enjoying himself. He is exhaused at the end of one of the piano pieces. BENNO MOISEIWITSCH Wagner Tannhauser overture arr for piano by Lizst. BBC studio, London 1954. Black and white. (77.32 minutes). Black and white.

WILHELM KEMPFF: He is not the man for thunderous playing, fortissimo or florid gestures. With his inspired, introspective style of playing Kempff hits the nerve of the music. Thus, Beethoven and Schumann, were the composers for whose work Kempff set the standard for generations to come. For me, he is the master. I own the DGG Schumann Piano works. 4 CDs, by Kempff. In parts of the Moonlight,it seems as though he is meditating.

SCHUMANN: Arabeske in C major, op 18. Papillions, op 2. Paris 1961. Davidsbundlertanze op 6. Book 1 and 2. Besancon 1963.Black and white. BEETHOVEN: Piano sonata no 17, the Tempest. Paris, 1968.BLack white,at times it fades. Piano Sonata no 14 Moonlight. The opening is beautiful, which cannot be expressed in words, for they are so limited. Colour. Piano sonata No 27, Paris, 1970. Colour. (101. 00) minutes.

ALDO CICCOLINI: He has an almost irresistible elegance of phrasing and a dreamy melodiousness. He plays today at 88. In 2013 he was granted a lifetime Achievement Award. You can see he loves the music he is playing.

DE FALLA: Noches en los jardines Espana. Orchestre National de la RTF. cond Roberto Benzi. Paris, 1960. 2nd and 3rd movement, hazy film. PICK-MANGIAGALLI: La Dance d' Olaf from: Deux Lunaires, op 33.ALBENIZ: Cadiz from Suite espanola no 1. Paris, 1960.MENDELSSOHN: Songs without songs. No 6, No 30, No 21, No 34. SCHUBERT: Impromptu in E flat major,D 899 No 2 Allegro. BEETHOVEN: Piano concerto No 4. Orchestre national de l'ortf,cond Georges Sebastian. Paris, 1962. LISZT: Funerailles from: Harmonies poetiques et religieuses.GRANADOS: Quejas, o La maja y el ruisenor from: Goyescas. Paris,1965. Allegro de Concierto Op 46.CHABRIER: Pieces pittoresques.Paris,1967. ( 112.01 minutes ). Black and white

SAMSON FRANCOIS: He died aged 46. He was a playboy, who was not averse to the excesses of alcohol or drugs. His playing style is utterly emotional, vivid and colourful. The sound he produces is of an exceptional brilliance and warmth. He seems almost as though he improvises. He was not afraid of taking risks. He did devide critics, some called him eccentric, others imaginative. He has a twinkle in his eye when playing. A character.

CHOPIN: Concerto for Piano and orchestra no 1. Orchestre national de la RTF cond Stanislav Skrowaczewski. Paris, 1962. Francois winks at the conductor. Waltz no 11 in G flat major,op 70 no 1.Deauville 1954. RAVEL: Concerto for piano and orchestra in G major. Orchestre national de la RTF. Cond John Pritchard. Paris,1964. Forlane from Le Tombeau de Couperin.Paris, 1959. DEBUSSY: Toccata. Laplus que lente. L'isle Joyeuse. RAVEL: Concerto for the left hand for piano and orchestra. Orchestre national de l'Opera de Monte-Carlo. Cond louis Fremaux. Paris, 1964. Grieg. GRIEG: Concerto for piano and Orchestra . Orchestre national de l'Ortf. Cond Louis Fremaux. Paris, 1967. ( 126.17. minutes.) Black and white.

CLAUDIO ARRAU: He was seen as the sophisticate amongest pianists of the 20th Century. He was a disciplined musician , his interpretations exceedingly cultivated and stylish. His playing was unusually songful.

SCHUMANN: Concerto for piano and orchestra. London Philharmonic Orchestra. Cond Georges Hurst. London, 1963. Carnaval lop 9.London 1961. BEETHOVEN: Piano sonata no 32 Paris, 1970. SOLOMON: Piano Sonata no 23 "Appassionata". The recording is the only performance of the legendary pianist Solomon which is perserved on film. London 1956. The sound is fine, but the film is old. You can only just make out Solomon in the long shot. ( 113.00 minutes.) Black and white.

EMIL GILELS Piano & ANDRE CLUYTENS.Conductor. Gilels never shied away from risk-taking. He died in Moscow in 1985, before completing Beethoven's Sonatas. I own them. Well worth buying. RAVEL: Daphnis et Chloe. 3 fragments. MUSSORGSKY:Pictures at an exhibition. orchestration by Ravel. Orchestre national de la RTF. Cond Andre Cluytens. Paris, 1960. TCHAIKOVSKY: Concerto No 1 for Piano and Orchestra. Orchestre national de la RTF. Emil Gilels piano Andre Cluytens conductor. Theatre des Champs-Elysees 1959. Prokofiev piano sonata No 3 Emil Gilels piano. London,1959. ( 87.32 minutes.) Black and white.

BYRON JANIS: PROKOFIEV: Concerto for piano and orchestra No 3 in C major op 26. orchestre national de la RTF. Conductor Paul Paray.Paris, 1963. RACHMANINOV: Rhapsody on a theme of Paganini. Orchestre Philharmonique de l'Ortf. Cond Louis de Froment. Paris, 1968. Beautifully played. ( 51.30 minutes.) Black and white.

ALFRED BRENDEL: he says Fischer, Cortot and Kempff had the greatest influence on the way he plays. His playing is of a very intellectual Nature.

BEETHOVEN: piano sonata no 29 Hammerklavier. Paris, 1970. Six Bagatelles for Piano op 126. No 2 allegro. No 3 Andante cantabile e grazioso. Paris, 1970. He is very much into his playing, he moves around a lot and shows his emotion, like the violinists. ( 51.29 minutes).

This bluray is for those who like pianists of the past. However, music is a subjective art form, it is not like a painting, or book where one can be objective. So a music review is merely an opinion and a matter of taste, to guide others. I wish it were not so, but music is such a fleeting experience. It is not static like the forms of art I have mentioned.

SD NTSC 4.3 on Bluray. PCM 2.0 dual mono. Dolby Digtal 2.0 dual mono. Subtitles. German. English. French. Spanish. REGION.ALL.

When Archive comes up on the screen, press the remote button surrounded by four arrows, 10 boxes pop up. A yellow box will be around one of them. Use the arrows to move the yellow box on the pianist you want to hear, and press the middle button.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 6, 2014 2:04 PM BST

Gershwin: Porgy and Bess [Eric Owens, Laquita Mitchell, Lester Lynch] [Blu-ray] [2014]
Gershwin: Porgy and Bess [Eric Owens, Laquita Mitchell, Lester Lynch] [Blu-ray] [2014]
Dvd ~ Laquita Mitchell
Price: £18.05

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars " I aint done nothing wrong,sir", sings the Honeyman, 3 April 2014
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The Libretto of the folk opera, Porgy and Bess was prepared by Dubose Heyward and Ira Gershwin, with music by George Gershwin. (1898-1937) The premiere was held at the Alvin theatre, Broadway, New York, 1935, with cuts. However, before I explain the details behind the writing of this opera and other items of interest, I shall write the review first. There is a biography of George Gershwin by Howard Pollack. His life and work.2006. University of California Press.I bought it from a secondhand book shop.

The bonus is most interesting, where the participants in the opera give their views. Porgy, a cripple and beggar, Eric Owens, who was in the New Met Ring as Alberich states, "The opera is quite a complex piece. Musically the role is a very challenging role. Poor guy, he is a bit simple, for he finds Bess a wonderful woman, but she is not attracted to him. However, Bess begins to love him." Bess Laquita Mitchell, "I get so happy when I hear this music. I like the character of Bess, she sparkles with fire. So I am multi-facited instead of one dimensional. However, People no matter where the opera is played cheer at the end". Chauncey Parker, sportin' life. "I grew up in the South as a African American boy. I feel a real connection with this opera, as it is so genuine to me. I grew up with people like sporting life. My mother who is a church goer, bought a few goods that was obviously stolen from a person who was so charming and polite, she could not resist. I based a part of sportin life on him." Lester Lynch, Crown, "this is grand opera.". The conductor John DeMain. "Porgy and Bess is the great American opera. Yet it is a theatrical universal story. Gershwin went to the Docks, and also heard how the Afro Americans prayed in church. The costumes and scenery is up dated to the early 1950's, the start of Civil rights movement. The influences are Stravinsky, Ravel, Jazz, blues, plus Tango. I compare this opera to Bizet's Carmen.(I disagree,Porgy and Bess is more realistic-T). I am always exhausted at the end of Porgy and Bess". David Gockley once General manager of Houston Grand opera,now General Director of San Francisco Opera States," with the 1976 Porgy and Bess we restored the operatic elements. Also, the material that had been cut during the the second Broadway version, and other productions, including the recitatives that had not been done since the 1935 production."

Synopsis: Porgy and Bess is set in Charleston, South Carolina. Acts 1, Act 2 and 3, becomes one Act. A Afro-American ghetto neighbourhood near the harbour, "Catfish Row, where Porgy a crippled beggar, is in love with Bess, but troubled by Bess's involvement with other members of the community. One of them is a thug named Crown, who loses his tyrannical hold on Bess only when he is killed by Porgy during a quarrel. Another gambler sportin life, eventually convinces Bess to accompany him to New York. The opera ends with Porgy setting off in Pursuit of Bess.

John DeMain conducts the San Francisco with vigor, and brings out the rhythm,the dance tunes, arias, and the music never lets up even when there is dialogue. He captures the spirit of the music, bubbling over with youthful energy. For Gershwin was only 39 when he died of a brain tumour. What might have been, if he had lived another 20 years.

Act 1 is a run down mansion, brown and dingy, with old rusty tin walls, with doors made out of cloth. Before the Kittiwah Island scene, the curtain comes down, then rises again. Here you can see the sunset and a run down show ground fun ride in the back ground. Also the outline of old buildings, surrounding a park. In this envionment, the costumes change from darkish, to light, showing the happiness of the occasion. There is a banner, Repent ye saith the Lord. Sportin life stands out, for he is dressed in a yellow waistcoat, with a black shirt and violet pants,singing " It aint necessarily so". Act 2 resorts back to the same scenery. There is always a lot of activity in the various scenes.

Eric Owens a Bass baritone is Porgy, not acting him. The part was made for him. " Bess, you is my woman" sung with Bess, Laquita Mitchell, who is a lyrical soprano. She has dyed red hair, caught in a bad life style. Sings and plays the part in a way that is truthful to the part. Crown, Lester Lynch,sings the part of the menacing thug and understands the mind set. Sportin life, Chauncey Packer knows this type, and acts and sings him as if he is actually the person. Serena, Karen Slack,a Mezzo, is a bible basher, married to a drunk, Robbins, Michael Austin. She is very believable. Maria, keeper of the cookshop, Alteouise deVaughn is a mezzo. Both Slack and deVaughn,are marvellous in the trio with Owens, in "Oh, Bess, Oh Where's My Bess".? Clara, Angel Blue, sings the opening Summertime, holding a baby. I do think she could sing the part of Bess. All the parts are well taken. Individually they stand out, and the choir is excellent. There are white policemen in the cast. The cast and chorus bring out the Rhythm, the beautiful songs and spirituals, with individual themes to remind us of a incident, like Porgy and Bess's love duet, or Summertime, as well. There are no weak links in this great production.

But according to the booklet, from the very beginning, "Porgy and Bess,was seen as racist, as was the book and play upon which this opera is based. Many African-Americans objected to what they saw as a racist and sterotypical view of blacks, that whites wanted to see. Many black performers refused to take part in the piece. With the rise of the civil rights movement in the 1950's the opera went out of fashion for about 20 years. The debate still rages about these points of view".

For me, this opera is a slice of life which for 1935, may have been ahead of its time. The reason is the libretto and songs are well written, by whites attempting to understand a part of the Southern Afro-American experience in the great depression. It certainly is not racist. Growing up under apartheid in South Africa,I know what racism is. (I was told to leave because of my stance against it). This opera was written by people who were not, and wished to show how people in these peculiar circumstances dealt with life, and the humanity they still maintained, against all odds. "Those white folks tried to put one over me" sings Porgy. " I aint done nothing wrong, sir", says the Honey man when the police take him to the station. I think for the time this opera was subtly subversive, for Gershwin shows sympathy for the Afro American plight. "Oh, Bess, Oh Where's my Bess", shows this understanding. A truely heart rendering aria and ending. A opera which is sung in the way the Afro-American's spoke at the time.

George Gershwin truely liked Afro American music and the musicans and wished to pay homage to them. He certainly did not want to offend them. But the book, play and opera was controversal. With two killings. Bess who is not married, drinks and takes drugs. Has a child by Porgy.(when you had to be married in those times). A thug Crown and a drug peddler,Sportin Life. Also, the use of spiritual songs in this environment. No wonder there was an uproar from the African- American community, who were mainly upstanding, and were not all into drugs. But it could be argued, America was in the middle of the great depression, and some poor whites lived that way. But the Afro Americans probably would reply, that even if it was set in 1935, that there was segregation in the South and afterwards. They were judged by their colour, and could not go to white hotels,cinemas and eateries, bars and sit on buses with whites. Also, could not have jobs that whites had. A opera it is, not a hybrid, but a great American folk opera. For Gershwin used elements of the musical, classical music, operatic convention, mainly spirituals, blues and jazz. In the same way, American Phillip Glass later did, by including modern pop music, amid minmalism to create opera.

I review this opera with a different background in music; I have a huge collection of Opera and Classical music, but also of World music, Classical Indian,traditional African,Flamenco and Fado and so forth. Also, I like music such as New Orleans jazz, big bands of the 1940's, rock music from the 1960's to now. As Weill once stated "there is only good and bad music". So I throughly recommend this opera because I am in a postion to do so, because of my musical taste.

The sound is good and so is the bluray film. You actually feel as though you were at the opera house. Recorded at the San Francisco opera, June 2009. Directed by Francesca Zambello.

REGION: All. 1080i Full HD-16.9. PCM Stereo, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. Subtitles: English/German/French/Korean. Bonus: Interviews with artist, conductor and creative team.

Gershwin took piano lessons and learnt harmony. He had a long held interest in African-American experience. Attracted to ragtime as a teenage pianist, borrowing blues words for songs from 1920 onwards,and identified as a jazz composer from the time of Rhapsody in Blue (1924). In 1919 he wrote Swanee which made him famous. He wrote popular music for the Broadway stage, Cinema scores and serious music for the Concert Hall. But in 1926 he read the book, and then saw the play by Dorothy and Dubose Heyward called Porgy written 1925. Loosely based on Characters in Dubose's own home town of Charleston. It gave Gershwin the idea for a Afro-American opera Porgy and Bess, completed 1935.He thought it was his destiny to come across the book.

To get the proper feel for the story, he spent the summer of 1934 on Rally Island, near Charleston, South Carolina. He absorbed the music of Gullah Afro-Americans. He captured the essence of Chrleston's street- cries, rhythms of Afro-American at work, church and play. Gershwin himself said " that he thought the music of Porgy and Bess so wonderful, that he could not believe he had written it." He put his whole being into this opera. His aim was to create a work that would appeal to a wide audience, beyond the elite circle of classical music lovers. For example, the greatest living composer, American Philiip Glass, attracts an audience to his opera's that have never been to a opera house. Kurt Weill wrote his opera's with ideas like Gershwin.

However, problems arose with the score. There was a private concert performance in Carnegie Hall, followed by a try out run in Boston. The performance had lasted four hours, but was held in high esteem. But then cuts and alterations were made to shorten the playing time, tighten the drama and ease the singers burden; but the impact of the overall form was lost for the New York opening. The Broadway performance was held 10th October 1935. Although 124 performances took place, which by Broadway terms was not a success, but by operatic terms extraordinary. The investors lost their money. Also, there was not enough black opera singers, so night club singers were recruited. There is a recording of the orchestra and Chorus from that ill-fated 1935 performance, with Tibbett and Jepson, supervised by George Gershwin, Nimbus records. From Broadway to Hollywood. In those days recordings were not made of musicals, so the original singers were not used. Admittedly it looks racist. But Gershwin so admired Tibbett that he chose a singer who sounded like the baritone for the part of Porgy. In 1941 Porgy and Bess won its first commercial success when played as a drama of separate numbers linked with spoken dialogue. There were more cuts. The opera did a tour of Europe, and even played at La Scala, Milan. But in 1976 the complete score was given by the Houston Grand Opera and was considered a great success. This latest Bluray Porgy and Bess is as complete as it will ever get.

More than any other composer Gershwin brought artistic respectablity to American popular music. Composers such as Ravel, Krenek, Weill, Lambert, Walton, Copland and Gould and others emulated him, and readily conceded the debt they owed him. There is a Bluray, Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny by Weill and Brecht, in English.Inspired by America. Also, Phillip Glass's The Perfect American on Bluray; see my reviews.

REFERENCES: Batta,A. Opera. 2005. Konemann. Ewen, D. The World of 20th Century Music. 1968. Prentice-Hall. Gockley, D. Porgy and Bess. 2013. San Francisco opera. Guinn, J & Stone, L. The St James Opera Encyclopedia. 1997. Visible Ink. Holden, A. The Penguin Opera. Guide.1995. Viking. Sadie, S. The Grove book of opera. 2009. Oxford University Press.

Great Symphonies: The Zurich Years 1995-2014 [Limited Deluxe]
Great Symphonies: The Zurich Years 1995-2014 [Limited Deluxe]
Price: £55.31

35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A box set for seasoned and new collectors of CD's., 27 Mar 2014
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The brand name RCA-Sony Classics is a guarantee of a quality box set. For example, they have released Toscanini the complete RCA collection, Reiner the complete Chicago Symphony Orchestra recordings, Davis the complete RCA recordings and Verdi, the great recordings. I know, I own them. Therefore, what Sony Classics have done, is to take the best ideas from the box sets I have mentioned, to create the David Zinman 50 CD s set. The proof that Sony have taken trouble over this box set, is that the spines are the colour of the sleeves, so you get Salmon red, Olive green, Prussian blue, grey, then salmon red, black, deep brown,dark green back to Salmon red again. When you look down, the colours blend into a half cube shape. In otherwords, the entire open box becomes an artistic statement.

The box has another placed inside, to strengthen it. Each end has thick black foam rubber to protect the CD's. This might make the box longer, but it adds protection, for you intend to keep it for years. The CD sleeves are made of sturdy cardboard, but will not ruin your CD's. On the front is a painting of the composer and his name, with the symphonies to be played. On the back, CD and track numbers. The colour code is on the sleeve and the entire CD. So the Beethoven symphonies are a salmon red and the Overtures and Piano concerto's of the composer, light Olive green. Mahler Grey and so forth. The CDs have all the details such as the composer, symphony and CD numbers in silver letters. On the sleeve's spine is the CD number, composer, symphony and other pieces to be played. You cannot get lost. The lid can be used to place the Sleeves in when you are playing the CD's.

There is a booklet of 39 pages, giving the Composer, CD number and soloists. There is an essay, "conducting is genius", in German, French and English. With a few pictures of David Zinman with the Tonhalle Orchestra, Zurich. The sound is Stereo/DDD. There are no other details. However, I have played the CDs on my digital player with huge speakers, with and without earphones. Well it is good. I am not a tech head so I cannot go into details. My number on the box is 1218. Like the Britten Decca box, numbers are being printed on each box. Also, you may think the title great symphonies is a bit kitch, but this set is far from that.

David Zinman, born 1936, grew up in New York, where he was influenced by Toscanini's NBC orchestra. He saw Bruno Walter conducting the Beethoven Symphonies in concert. During his period of study with the great Pierre Monteux, the French conductor who conducted Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, he would sneak into some of Klemperer's rehearsals. (Gramophone July 1999) Monteux has conducted the best Franck symphony, Chicago symphony,1961 RCA box set, Living stereo. Beethoven's 9th Symphony and Berlioz's Romeo and Juliet, London Symphony Orchestra 1962.Westminster Legacy box set.

However, to understand Zinman, a little history is required. The Hungarian Nikisch was the model for the young Frenchman Monteux, Swiss Ansermet, Englishman Boult and German Furtwangler; also, Hungarian's Reiner, Dorati and Solti. Nikisch was a mentor to Boult and Reiner, who taught Bernstein. Furtwangler often refered to Nikisch as his only role model. He said, " each and every one of Nikisch's movements, no matter how small, was exclusively aimed at the orchestra in order to be turned into music. I learned the sound from Nikisch, how to work the sound out." Nikisch was the first modern conductor of the century who did away with the traditional image of a time beater. He influenced the contemporary view of a subjective but authoritative orchestral educator who was able to bring out all the musical substance from the score and the orchestra through detailed work. Nikisch conducted the Leipzig and Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. He died in 1922. Furtwangler took over. He himself influenced, Barenboim, Abbado, Metha, Tennstedt and Ashkenazy. Did you know Abbado, Metha and Zinman were students together? Anyhow, Nikisch's influence lives on through Zinman via Monteux. Classical Musical History is important you know.

CD 1-13. BEETHOVEN: The reviewer in the July 1999 Gramophone magazine, responded to the brisk tempo's of Zinman. "He considers the symphonies, swift, lean, exhilarating and transparent. The Tonhalle orchestra is exceptional. The recordings compares with their full price rivals" Zinman explains, " I was working out how to make the metronome marks work. However, when you are totally convinced you can make the speeds work, then you conquer the problem." Some of the textual embllishment were not added by Del Mar, but by Zinman himself. The score he used is Barenreiter's new edition. All repeats are observed, so are the majority of Beethoven's metronome markings, by using modern instruments with period awareness. The booklet explains further, the number of string players were reduced; the brass players used old instruments that are not as loud as those generally used today; and the percussionists experimented with wooden drumsticks on smaller timpani. The slimmer overall sound made it possible to turn Beethoven's fast tempi into reality.

BEETHOVEN: The 9th Symphony caught me totally by surprise, so fast was it. I own the Toscanini, Norrington, Gardiner and Australian Mackerras 9 Beethoven symphonies. All have quick tempi, but this was different. From beginning to end, the symphony got faster and faster. This was the way Beethoven wanted it. You could feel his personality, strong, never giving in to fate. Over coming all. However, on a separate track the last half of the finale is given an alternative version, with a pause included towards the end, representing Beethoven's first thoughts, later amended. Track 5, Allegro assai vivace alla Marcia- end. 13.10, track 6, Same. 12.58. Soloists, Ruth Ziesak soprano, Birgit Remmert contralto, Steve Davislim, tenor, Detlef Roth Bass. I thought the Scherchen Beethoven 6th was fast, recorded in 1954, but it was a doddle in the park compared to Zinman. No country folk dancing; they were leaping as if scorched by flames. It is as though my ears have been cleaned and I am hearing these great symphonies as if for the first time.

BEETHOVEN: OVERTURES: Die Geschopfe des Prometheus, Egmont, Coriolan, Leonore No 1, Ruins of Athens, Leonore No 2, Zur Namansfeier, Leonore No 3, Fidelio, King Stephan, Die Weihe des Hauses. The orchestra takes on board the lessons of the period performance in the 11 overtures. MISSA SOLEMNIS: Luba Orgonasova, Anna Larsson, Rainer Trost, Franz-Josef Selig.This is a thrillingly vital performance. I thought the Toscanini Mass was fast and regard it highly, but this Zinman inspired work is even faster. Another favourite of mine, is the DVD of the Missa Solemnis, Luisi conducting the Sachsischen Staatsoper Dresden, at the opening of the Frauenkirche. Singers are Nylund, Remmert, Elsner and Pape 2005. PIANO CONCERTO's 1-5 with Yefim Bronfman piano. He plays very stylishly, with exceptionally clean attack and clarity of articulation. His playing has great elegance and he has a close rapport with Zinman. Bronfman and Zinman offer us a discret and durable Emperior Concerto no 5.. CHORAL FANTASY. TRIPLE CONCERTO. SEPTET. Yefim Bronfman, Gil Shaham, Truls Mork. The triple concerto is related to chamber music. Zinman and his soloists treat it that way, with light clear texture. Truls Mork plays the slow movement with its soaring cello movement with no hint of sentiment. The septet is played in the same manner.VIOLIN CONCERTO and TWO ROMANCES. Tetzlaff. A real winner. Tempo's are brisk. The slow movement is serene. There is no Romantic reverence, for it is a heroic piece with many serene moments. The Romances are played with lyricism.

CD 14-16. BRAHMS: SYMPHONY 1-4. I own the Walter, Klemperer(Live),Kempe, Toscanini and Thielemann,(bluray) Brahms symphonies. I add this gladly to my collection. Zinman builds up the tension, so the tempi gathers momentum. These four symphonies can stand with the best on the market.

CD 17. HAYDN, HUMMEL, DAVID and WAGENSEIL concerto's for trumpet and trombone. The Haydn trumpet has the famous 3rd movement. The Hummel trumpet concerto Andante is sublime.

CD 18-33. MAHLER. According to Egon Wellesz, "Mahler's conducting combined the drive and discipline of Toscanini with the warmth of Bruno Walter." (Musical Companion.) The Blumine was originally part of the five movement Ist Movement, but Mahler took it out. He kept it. The 2nd symphony has soloists, Juliane Banse soprano. She is also a Lieder singer and sings in the Complete Schubert song box set, with Graham Johnson. Anna Larsson contralto. She was Fricka in the Wagner Valencia Ring Cycle. The best symphonies are the 2nd,3rd, 5th, 6th, 7th, 9th, then the 4th and 8th symphonies. In the 3rd symphony, Zinman captures the hymnlike last movement, and brings out its sheer beauty. One could say it is a meditation. With Haitink conducting the Berlin Phil, the movement is beauty personified, however, with the young Levine, he makes you weep. Solti, never; Tennstedt, nearly captures that movement, in his studio recording. Soloist in the 3rd symphony, Birgit Remmert, contralto. She sung in the Luisi Beethoven Missa Solemnis, and Daphne, a opera by Richard Strauss on DVD. The 4th symphony. The best performance on record is Reiner's with Della Casa. But Zinman manages to capture the serenity of the 3rd movement. With Luba Orgonasova capturing the childlike innocence of the 4th movement. All in all a good recording. Some of the CDs in this Mahler section are devided into two, so the Ist movement, maybe 20 -30 minutes, are on the first CD, the rest on the second. This means, that you do not have the Mahler symphonies all over the place, as in some box sets.

MAHLER: The 5th symphony, Zinman keeps the tension and swift speeds when required. Zinman captures the famous Adagietto. Levine's 5th symphony Adagietto is an emotional ride over 12 minutes. Mahler played it at over 8 minutes, then the meaning becomes different. The 6th symphony Zinman seems to relate to this symphony. The Andante is beautifully done and the movements are swiftly played 7th Symphony, a very good performance. Allegro opening very fast. Captures the Mahlerian spirit of the piece. 8th symphony, I think it is as good as the Tennstedt studio recording. Soloists Diener-Soprano, Banse -Soprano, Larsson- soprano, Naef and Remmert, contralto's, Griffey -tenor, Powell baritone, Abdrazakov -Bass and Muff- Bass. CD 1 8th symphony has PDF with biographies of the soloists and chorus. 9th Symphony, 3rd movement is swift. 4th Movement, Adagio Bernstein DVD 26.09. Zinman 28.46. This movement is very emotional. Worth having.

MAHLER: 10th Symphony. Deryck Cooke who pieced together Mahler's last unfinished symphony wrote," the work is a five movement symphony, a practiclly unbroken flow of music from beginning to end. It is obvious the work was due for a good deal of revision. Nevertheless, it shows Mahler, far from plunging further into preoccupation with death, was moving towards a vitally creative attitude." Now I have heard the Carpenter and the Cooke version, I think I prefer Cooke conducted by Levine. However, there are those who like the Carpenter. It is always good to have another new version. I am sure die hard Mahlerians will argue over this point. DAS LIED VON DER ERDE. I own the famous Ferrier and Patzak recording 1952, Cond Walter Vienna Philharmonic orchestra. Thorborg and Kullmann, VPO cond Walter 1936. Zinman is right into Mahler's sound World in this work, and on second hearing, the tenor Christian Elsner, is not bad. He was the tenor in the DVD Dresden Missa Solemnis. Susan Graham is good and captures that loss at the end perfectly. BUSONI:Berceuse elegiaque.Purely orchestral.

I am more of the Bernstein, Levine, Solti school, but being totally objective, I can say truthfully, that these Zinman conducted Mahler 10 symphonies are good. I spent a lot of time listening to them, to understand what he is trying to achieve. What I like about them is that, Zinman is emotional and can use swift tempo's when required. His Andantes are but a beautiful dream. He has his own unique Mahler sound world, a mixture of the old school of conducting learnt from Monteux, and period instruments. In much the same way as Abbado and Metha used Furtwangler as a role model.

CD 34-35. MOZART: VIOLIN CONCERTO'S 1-5. HAFFNER SERENADE. Pamela Frank..Violin. She plays with feeling througout the concerto's. Violin Concerto no 3 is well known, and the Andante is heavenly played by Frank. Four of the Concerto's cadenzas by David Zinman.

CD 36-40 SCHUBERT:SYMPHONY 1-8(9th). RONDO FOR VIOLIN AND STRINGS. POLANAISE IN B FLAT MAJOR FOR VIOLIN AND ORCHESTRA. CONCERT PIECE IN D MAJOR FOR VIOLIN AND ORCHESTRA. Violin Andreas Janke. Zinman has the right touch for Schubert Symphonies. Fast tempo's. brings out the wonderous melodies. The quickest recording of the 9th is Toscanini's.The no 5 is made for Zinman and his light touch. I can say that in this symphony he is almost as good as Beecham.

CD 41-42. SCHUMANN: SYMPHONIES 1-4. With readings on the fast side, they are at once fresh, resilent and transparent, defying the old idea of Schumann's thickness of orchestration. Among digital sets there is no finer cycle, whatever the price. Zinman uses period instruments and timpani in these symphonies. This Schumann four symphonies conducted by Zinman, is on a par with the period instrument symphonies conducted by Gardiner.

CD 43-49. RICHARD STRAUSS: Monteux played under the baton of Strauss, so he passed on to Zinman how Strauss liked his works played. Aus italian. Macbeth. Ein Heldenleben. Tod und Verklarung. Don Juan. Till Eulenspiegels lustage Streiche. Also sprach Zarathustra. Eine Alpensinfonie. Festliches Praludium. Metamorphosen. Oboe concerto. Simon Fuchs oboe. Four last songs. Melanie Diener. The singer captures the sheer beauty of the melodies. Zinman understands this piece. Sinfonia Domestica. Paregon. Don Quixote. Cello Romance. Zinman is at home in Strauss, bringing out those beautiful melodies. He is a fine Straussian, as is Kempe and Reiner, who actually knew Strauss and conducted some of his Dresden premieres of his operas.

CD 50. WAGNER IN SWITZERLAND. Die fligende Hollander Overture. Der Frist ist um. Das Rhinegold. Entrance of the Gods into Valhalla. Die Walkure Ride of the Walkure Act 3. Gotterdammerung Siegfried Rhine Journey. Die Walkure Act 3. Leb wohl, du kuhnes herrliches kind. Egils Silins Bass baritone. Zinman conducting of excerpts from the Ring cycle is luminous and almost Italianite.The music almost sings. I wish he had recorded the Ring on Bluray. Silens would make a fine Wotan. I have 11 Wagner Ring cycles on Bluray and DVD. On CD, the Bohm, Solti, Keilberth 1955 Bayreuth Ring, and the 2nd version with Modl. Also,Solti Wagner's operas, Wagner's vision, and Wagner at the Met box sets; full of singers of the past. You could say I am a Wagner fan.

So what is it that makes Zinman different?. He stayed with the same Zurich orchestra for nearly 20 years and created his own unique orchestral sound as did the great conductors, like Reiner and Toscanini. But he is not as great as them of course. Also, Monteux believed in him and made his path possible. Therefore, Zinman is not really a modern conductor as such, but a throw back to the conductors of the past. I hope you enjoy this set as much as I have. The Mahler, Schubert, Schumann, Mozart, Brahms and Beethoven symphonies are brilliant, as well as the other music pieces. Recommended.

REFERENCES:Bacharach,A. Pearce, J. The musical Companion. 1977. Victor Gollancz Ltd, London. Cooke,D. Gustav Mahler, an introduction to his music. 1988. Faber music. Furtwangler-Hall of Fame. Gramophone July 1999. Gramophone year book 2009. Hagmann, P. Conducting is genius. 2014. Sony Classics. Lebrecht, N. The Maestro Myth. 1997. Pocket books. Penguin Year Book 2008.
Comment Comments (11) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 5, 2014 10:19 PM BST

Berlioz: Complete Orchestral and Sacred Music
Berlioz: Complete Orchestral and Sacred Music
Price: £23.89

14 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The glorious music of Berlioz conducted by Davis, who rated the composer very highly., 15 Mar 2014
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The box is made of strong cardboard, with details of the music to be played on the back. The sleeves are also made of cardboard, with CD number on the front and back, where the music to be played is placed. No track numbers. The CD is black, with writing in white; CD number and pieces to be played. The booklet includes CD numbers, music with track numbers, orchestra and singers. No English translations, although there is space for it. Decca has seen fit to supply only the French libretto's and poems. ADD, no mention of DDD. Recorded 1965 - 1980. The sound is good and I think the CD's have been remastered. All works are conducted by Colin Davis,often with swift tempi, capturing the spirit of Berlioz. A must have and the box set is cheap.

In 1827, it was Hamlet given by a visiting English theatrical company, that would affect Berlioz for the remander of his life. "Shakespeare, coming on me unawares, struck me like a thunderbolt. I recognised the meaning of grandeur, beauty and dramatic truth." (Berlioz's memoirs). Also, his passion for Harriet Smithson, who played Ophelia and Juliet influenced his life, for later on, she shared his life with him. Another great influence was Beethoven, for in 1828 he heard the first ever performances in France of the 3rd and 5th symphonies at the Conservatoire. Berlioz writes that " Beethoven opened before me a new world of music, as Shakespeare had revealed a new universe of poetry." According to MacDonald, Berlioz rarely adopted the precise tone and timbre of Beethoven. He absorbed this impact at a deep level, seeing Beethoven as a supreme dramatist in music, more poet then craftsman. The 9th symphony showed a way forward for Berlioz.

Although Berlioz (1803-1869) was a Romantic, he had little taste for painting. He also did not suffer with nostalgia for the Medieval age. He was no philosopher, since life, for all his idealism, was a practical matter whose problems had to be confronted by action not theories. However, Berlioz adored Gluck, a composer who was part of the Classical movement. This influenced Les Troyens, but with the Romantics feeling and warmth. But only a cut Les Troyens a Carthage was shown at the Theatre Lyrique, Paris, 1863. This opera gained a reputation of being difficult, and the next complete performance was held at Covent Garden in 1957. However, Davis who conducted the first ever recording of Berlioz's les Troyens, and is one of his three favourite composers, stated the following, which could apply to Berlioz. " A musican must make affirmations. If he cannot believe in music as a universal ideal, what is he left with? Music is the expression of a desire to reach an ideal."

CD 1. SYMPHONY FANTASTIQUE: Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. TRISTIA (excerpts) Marche funebre pour la derniere scene d' Hamlet. LSO. Recorded in 1974 this symphony has dominated the catalogue for two decades. It is still a primary recommendation. 1996 Penguin Guide. Do not forget the version played on period instruments by John Eliot Gardiner, conducting the Orchestre revolutionnaire et Romantique. This is electrifying. Hugh Macdonald writes about the symphony, that Berlioz was more concerned with the working out of a musical idea according to its lights then in forcing the music into formal strait-jackets. The way in which the musical shape is determined by the character of his ideas has excited composers from Schumann onwards. Tristia. Three works written at different times. They were published as a set in 1852. Borrowed from Ovid, means "sad things". Like Ovid exiled from Rome, Berlioz felt exiled from Paris by the 1848 riots and his disastisfaction with the musical affairs of the city.

CD 2. LELIO ou le retour a la vie. Carreras tenor, Allen Baritone. LSO. GRAND SYMPHONIE FUNEBRE ET TRIOMPHALE. LSO. Lelio was a sequel to Symphonie Fantastique. Lelio takes up the story at the point where the symphony leaves off, when the lovers thrust into Hell now find a certain peace, through art and music. The six musical numbers make a fascinating suite. They range from a Goethe poem with a piano accompaniment, sung excellently by Carreras, through such pieces as a brigands song to an extended fantasy on Shakespeares Tempest. The funebre et Triomphale was originally designed to be performed in the open on the march. The funeral march is haunting.

CD 3. HAROLD EN ITALIE: Nobuko Imai Viola. LES TROYENS a Carthage. Prlelude from Les Troyens a carthage: part 2, act 3. LSO. Les Troyens Act 4. Chasse royal et orage-Pantomime. Marche pour l' entree de la reine. Ballets. Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. The Viola Solo richly and warmly played by Imai. The Harold in Italy symphony is as near a concerto as Berlioz ever got. A typically Berliozian design, on a vast scale. Toscanini has made a version, furiously fast.

David Cairns writes that Les Troyens manages to capture the tragic spirit and climate of the ancient world ( an almost unique achievement in 19th century dramas, preoccupied as it was with the Judeo- Christian ideas of remorse and redemption), and which captures the ambience of Virgil's Aeneid with uncanny directness into the language of music. They share a sense of the pathos of human life, of man's precarious existence in an inhospitable universe.

CD 4. OVERTURES: Beatrice and Benedict, Benvenuto Cellini ( BBC Symphony Orchestra.) Le roi Lear, Les Francs-juges, Waverley, Le Cosaire, Carnaval romain. LSO. London Symphony Orchestra. The playing undoubtedly has fire and brilliance. Les francs-juges can hold its own with Beecham. Munch's overtures with the Boston orchestra are considered Dazzlingly performed. I am a Berlioz fan, so I have various copies of his works.

CD 5- 6 ROMEO ET JULIETTE: Kern Contralto, Tear tenor, Shirley-Quirk Bass, LSO. Davis has more sympathy with this score and secures playing of great vitality and atmosphere from the LSO. Pierre Monteux's version 1962 is well worth a look. He brings French elan to the music. But I am a fan of the old master. The singers are Resnik contralto, Ward Bass and Andre Turp tenor. Cairns states that Romeo and Juliet was unthinkable without Beethoven.

CD 6-7 I' ENFANCE DU CHRIST: LSO Baker Mezzo, Allen Baritone, Tappy tenor, Bastin Bass, Rouleau Bass, Langridge tenor, Herincx bass. The beautiful balanced recording intensifies the colour and the atmosphere of the writing. Baker and Allen, as ever sing beautifully.

CD 8-9. LA DAMNATION DE FAUST: LSO. Gedda Tenor, Bastin Bass, Veasey mezzo, Van Allan Bass, Knight Mezzo. Both Gedda as Faust and Bastin as Mephistopheles are impressive in this 1974 set. The response of the chorus and orchestra is never less than intelligent and in the quieter passages highly sensitive. A most satisfying account of this work. DGG. Igor Markevitch Orchestre Lamoureux, Paris. Rubio mezzo, Verreau tenor, Roux baritone, Mollet bass. Swift tempo. This is the most French of all versions and won an award. Like Davis he promoted Berlioz's music, which took a long time to be accepted by the French.

CD 10-11. REQUIEM: LSO Dowd tenor. This Requiem was recorded in the Westminster cathedral and thanks to the closeness of the microphones you can hear at places the individual voices in the choir. The LSO provides finely incisive accompaniment. Fiery and fast tempi. TE DEUM:. LSO- Tagliavini- tenor. Stands out even among Davis's Berlioz recordings. Conveys the massiveness, the drama without unwanted enotion. After 30 years, these two performances remain the front runners. For Davis concentrates on the inner meaning of the music. However, Munch's Boston symphony version, remains a distinguished set. Slower tempi. Berlioz was not religious, as Brahms and Verdi were not.

CD 12. LES NUITS D' ETE. Armstrong soprano, Veasey Mezzo, Patterson tenor, Shirley-Quirk Bass. LSO. Davis's insight into the music is not in doubt. But this is one failure in the box set, the four singers do not work together. But Berlioz did think the cycle could be sung by a Man or Woman. The best two versions available are, Crespin cond Ansermet and Baker cond Barbirolli. Always remember music is a subjective art form, and a review is a matter of taste and merely an opinion.

CD 13.LA MORT DE CLEOPATRE: Berlioz entered this work for the Prix de Rome in 1829. He won it in 1830 with a conservative piece now mainly lost. This work does point to a future opera, Les Troyens. HERMINIE: Berlioz's Prix de Rome cantata provided the famous Idee Fixe for the Allegro in the Symphonie Fantastique. 5 MELODIES : La belle voyageuse, Le chasseur demois, La captive, Le jeune patre breton, Zaide. Baker, mezzo, Armstrong soprano, Veasey mezzo, Patterson tenor, Shirley-Quirk bass.

REFERENCES: Bacharach, A & Pearce, J.(Eds) The Musical Companion. 1973. Victor Gollancz Ltd. London. Cairns, D. The memoirs of Berlioz .197O Panther. Cairns, D. Essays on Les Troyens 1970-Phillips. Macdonald, H. Lelio, Tristia. Decca. Macdonald,H. Early Romantic Masters-Berlioz 1985. Macmillan. Penguin Guide 1977, 1996 & 2008.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 23, 2014 5:19 AM BST

Wagner: Gotterdammerung [Lance Ryan, Gerd Grochowski, Johannes Martin Kränzle] [Blu-ray] [2014]
Wagner: Gotterdammerung [Lance Ryan, Gerd Grochowski, Johannes Martin Kränzle] [Blu-ray] [2014]
Dvd ~ Lance Ryan
Price: £28.21

7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gotterdammerung does enable us to understand Cassiers vision for this Ring., 9 Mar 2014
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Arthaus should have released this Ring in a box set, instead of individual parts of this Ring cycle. For then right from the start, we may have come to terms with the director's Cassiers vision. However, from the Rhinegold booklet, we learn that Chereau's vision was of Germany from 1870-1930, the Unification of Germany, to the late Weimar republic, and the rise of Nazism. He forgot to mention, the changes in Bayreuth. The 1976 generation experienced that Ring as the past which had gone, but for which they were partly responsible. However, as Chereau insisted that historical realities be recognised in Wagner's Ring, so does Cassiers, but not just Germany's past; for his takes place in the now, our own present day global world. The present, every present is satuated with the past, we cannot get away from it. So 2013 is influenced by 1870. The present, future and past are locked together.

Then the director follows Schopenhauerian philosophy, where the world is evil and tragic, so simply ignore it like a mystic. We are driven by will, which is unseen and unknown, but the world is a physical manifestation of it. Wagner had read in 1854, the philosophers book, "The world as will and representation", in the middle of writing the music of Die Walkure, and it changed him forever. This was not the case, that this book confirmed the views he always held. Thomas Mann states "it was the great event of his life, even more then Feuerbach" Whose Philosophy states, Man created God or Gods; let there be the Love of Man, instead of the Love of God. Now Wagner had turned to a tragic philosophy, which is often down played, because there is lack of knowledge about Schopenhauer's ideas. If you wish to discover more about Feuerbach and Schopenhauer, read Bryan Magee's paperback, Wagner and Philosophy. The book is not heavy going, it is easy to read. See my review.

However, Wagner left Siegfried under a tree, and wrote Tristan und Isolde, then Die Meistersingers, to come to grips with this new philosophy. But he was still left with a Feuerbachian opera. Wagner did change the ending, which is basically Schopenhaurian, with a nod to Eastern ideas, which that philosopher knew of, and this inspired the composer. Wagner is never straight forward. Here Cassiers does not follow Wagner's ideas, but even so he comes unstuck, he does not understand the ideas he has discussed. But I will follow his mind set, so you understand what is going on in the opera.

Gold drives the greed and violence. Also,the Ring explores desire, or rather human will to use the Schopenhaurian word. So at the end of Gotterdammerung we view the entire sculptural freeze, created by Jef Lambeaux, the Antwerp born artist commissioned by King Leopold the second, of Belgium in 1881. The finished product was to be placed in a pavillon in Brussels. The result was Les Passions humaines. The work depicts human bodies interwined in poses suggestive of erotic bliss and physical torture, love and death. It also suggests scenes of war, rape and suicide. Audiences in Berlin and Milan have seen the freeze, or abstracted versions of it from Das Rhinegold second scene onwards. Then the freeze projected the panoramic world view from Valhalla, a landscape of mountain vistas combined with a distinct veneer of envionmental degradation. In Die Walkure and Siegfried the frieze has reappeared both in vertical fragments and in its entireity. The freeze is rather like Wagner's leitmotiv's, shown throughout this Ring cycle. And may have been inspired by King Leopold who with the explorer Stanley's help, had claimed and built a colonial empire in the Congo, enabled by the enslavement and abuse of the indigenous population. Which generated the global trade of Ivory and rubber. Thus the violence in the freeze takes on a specific reference to the enslavement of Africa that accompanied the global modernization of the 19th century.

Nothing has changed today via the global economy; cheap labour in poor countries that feeds a desire for cheap clothes and labourers in the West and elsewhere; also greedy Wall street and banks that caused a collapse of the economy. War in the name of liberating a country, when oil was the real reason. A mad rush to materialism and superficial values at the expense of others and the environment, using modern technology that brainwashes its own people, so the few can thrive in luxury. Don't forget war and the rumour of War. Nothing has changed. The basic human value system is the same as that in 1870. So at the end of Gotterdammerung is that beautiful theme from Act 3, sung by Sieglinde to Brunnhilde. But Chereau handles this situation, by having the chorus silently looking at us; which means, which direction do we take? With Cassiers, this theme offers no hope, for it is reduced to simply that, a beautiful superfical emptyness. Alberich, the Rhinemaidens and the people, are left to repeat the same Ring Journey again. As in the Congo, so today, throughout the world, and for all time, is a tragic, evil Schopenhauerian bleakness. Hagen sums up this mentality.

Unfortunately, it took a while to work Cassiers ideas out, for the author of the articles, Steinberg, writes in a manner that is for Academia, not for opera lovers. However, the eternal manipulations are there in this mythic Ring. Steinberg writes about Gotterdammerung, that the Gods are doomed by their interaction with humans. There is no Valhalla to return to, as Valhalla has been fatally compromised by its interaction with the lower world. Thus, Cassiers has turned this Cycle into a illustration of Schopenhauer's philosophy, without intending to. To further understand myth and its effect upon us, I suggest you might like to view the DVD, the Power of Myth, with Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers. Read my review.

You may notice that the Rhine Maidens, Brunnhilde and Gutrune wear 1870's dresses, and the chorus, the type of clothes the men wore in Germany when they fought duels. That is the past. In Siegfried,and now Gotterdammerung, Siegfried wears leather gear, to remind us this is about today as well. In Die Walkure, the spinning disc represents the world, and eternal suffering humanity. In Rhinegold, the two Giants wear modern suits and there is equipment of today in one scene. In Gotterdammerung and the other operas, the dresses and clothes are mainly of the 1870's. Many of the special effects are there also to remind us of the present and future. In Die Walkure and Siegfried, the red cords hanging down are the future. They are to remind you of the rope of destiny, woven by the three Norns in this opera.

When Siegfried becomes Gunther,so as to take the ring off Brunnhildes finger, he is surrounded by dancers. That means he is invisible. When he leaves the boat, so do the dancers. They represent Siegfrieds state of mind, befuddled by the potion. When Brunnhilde throws her self into the flames, which are seen on the screen, a picture of the horse Grane appears. The crowd looks at the the original freeze, as if to say, nothing changes, humanity will carry on as before. To sum up, as Cassiers states, we live on the surface of history, plus the culture and memory. Also, this opera is very traditional, in scenery, dress and staging.

I have loved the staging and the mainly traditional costumes throughout the four operas, for they are extremely subtle. The conducting by Barenboim of the La Scala Orchestra is superb. A very Italian sound. He knows the score inside out, and can pace himself and see the overall picture. In Gotterdammerung, Siegfried, Lance Ryan, is quite good once he warms up. Gunther Gerd Grochowski is right inside the part. Alberich Johannes Martin Kranzle, makes the part his own. Hagen Mikhail Petrenko, he would be on my list as a top Hagen. Brunnhilde Irene Theorin, one of the two great Brunnhildes, the other is Nina Stemme. Irene Theorin took the main part in the Copenhagen Ring, recorded 2006. Waltraute Waltraud Meier. Gutrune Anna Samull, one of the better Gutrune's. All the cast is good. A co production with Staatsoper Unter den Linden, Berlin, in collaboration with Toneelhuis Antwerp-hence the freeze and Leopold the second. I really think this Ring cycle is worth while owning. These opera's certainly are original.They made me think as I have explained.

We have had three Wotans: Rene Pape, Vitalij Kowaljow and Terje Stensvold, Fricka:Doris Stoffel and then Ekaterina Gubanova.Two Brunnhildes: Nina Stemme and Irene Theorin. I liked the changes, we got to see and hear,the three best Wotan's today. And the two greatest Brunnhildes currently singing. I have 11 DVD's of the Ring, and sometimes there are changes. I do not think we can blame the dates of the operas for the three Wotans. Das Rheingold 26th May 2010, Die Walkure, 7 December 2010. Siegfried, October 20th 2012, Gotterdammerung June 2013. The Met Ring: Das Rheingold October 9th 2010, Die Walkure May 14th 2011, Siegfried November 5, 2011, Gotterdammerung February 11, 2012. They kept all the cast except one Rhinemaiden. Valencia Ring: Das Rhinegold April/May 2007, Die Walkure April/May 2007, Siegfried June 2008 and June 2009, Gotterdammerung June 2009. Changes to Erda and Flosshilde. Lubeck Ring recorded Sept 2010. Loses a good Siegfried, for a substandard one in Gotterdammerung. The Copenhagen Ring loses a lousy Wotan and gains American James Johnson in Die Walkure and Siegfried, one of the great Wotan's of today, along with the other three.

You may like the Bluray, "The World of the Ring". A documentary in 4 parts by Eric Schultz. Thielemann conducts excerpts from the Ring Cycle, then a journalist asks questions of him and she explains the libretto Act by Act. A pianist illustrates certain parts of the Ring. We have two musicologists, a literary Scholar, writer and a political scientist. They explain Wagner's life and how the Ring effects people today. It is not boring, or else I would say so. This bluray is for Ring fanactics like me, or those new to it,and would like to know more. Read my review.

Do not forget to press pop up menu. Then chapters, Audio and languages appear. Point the remote at the last on the list and press button in the middle of the four arrows. Press pop up menu again and the details go away.

PCM Stereo. DTS HD Master Audio 5.1. Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, italian, Korean. 16.9. REGION Worldwide. 10801. Good sound and Picture. Booklet with the very academic essay.

Britten: Death In Venice [John Graham-Hall, Andrew Shore, Tim Mead] [Blu-ray] [2014]
Britten: Death In Venice [John Graham-Hall, Andrew Shore, Tim Mead] [Blu-ray] [2014]
Dvd ~ John Graham-Hall
Price: £28.88

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This performance is very sophisicated, but the staging is beyond that word we use carelessly; beautiful., 7 Mar 2014
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How can you pay homage to Britten (1913-1976) who is not only the greatest British composer, but is also one of the all time greats. Yet in life he suffered greatly; a homosexual and a pacifist who felt himself to be an outsider, so he hid behind a mask. It is only in his music, that he showed he was really a highly emotional Man. The Decca complete works of Britten CD box set show this to be so. However, we have been fortunate on bluray, for apart from this Death in Venice, we have the following opera's, Peter Grimes, the La Scala, Milan, with a British cast version, Gloriana, the stunning Rape of Lucretia, Turn of the screw, Billy Budd, and the War Requiem, which is timely, because of the 100 years anniversary of the beginning of the 1914-18 World War.

The opera's libretto written by Myfanwy Piper, is based upon Thomas Mann's Death in Venice. Premiere 16th June 1973, The Maltings, Snape, Suffolk. Created as a tribute to Peter Pears.

A brief synopsis.Gustav von Aschenbach, a lonely middle aged writer who is fascinated by the angelic beauty of the youth Tadzio, follows him through the streets of Venice. Yet he has always been interested in form, reason and restraint. However, his love for Tadzio begins to allow him to see that passion is closely related to beauty. He understands that the irony of his life has been that the worship of beauty and perfection of form, removed from feeling, is not possible. The more repressed passion is, the greater strength it has when it finally surfaces. However, his own death from Cholera intervenes.

"The Atmosphere of decay and decadence is uncannily evoked as are the sounds of Venice itself. Britten employs three strata of sound: piano accompanment for the recitatives, a Gamelan percussion for Tadzio and his friends, and the full orchestra for Venice and for the other characters." (Holden, A).

Deborah Warner's beautiful production of Britten's final masterpiece has been acclaimed as an " exquisitely achieved marriage of music, drama and design" (the Independent). John Graham-Hall who was Peter Grimes, in the La Scala production, the Guardian considers Hall's performance of Aschenbach " a remarkable and harrowingly believable performance." This is a traditional staged performance, circa early 1900's.

Act I scene 2. Funnel, seats, rails and baggage, give an impression of a ship. The passengers wear early 20th century clothes. In the Hotel, Palms set in various places, long very light brown curtains. The people mainly women, are dressed in light summer long dresses of the period. A few men and women in dark attire. Sky with wisps of clouds. Scene 5. The cobalt blue sky, gradually fading into a lighter shade of blue, where one can see a faint outline of a distant coast line. Children playing next to the outline of a beach hut. Off center a woman painting. Aschenbach is at the other end , sitting and watching boys play. I think at the beginning of Act 2, a haunting interlude floats across the theatre. It evokes a state of an uneasy state of mind, for disease is nearby. Even the sky and sea is grey. At Aschenbach's death, there is a stark orange orb; two boys including Tadzo play nearby him. He is sitting on a seat. As he dies Tadzo walks away into the sun as the sky grows dark. All the time a unforgetable theme is played by the orchestra.

A great deal of thought has gone into the scenery. A clever and subtle, well thoughtout production. I cannot praise the singers, Aschenbach Graham-Hall, Andrew Shore's 7 parts and Tim Mead as Apollo, plus the other parts enough. The orchestra of the English National opera is lovingly conducted by a long standing champion of Britten's music, Edward Gardner.

ALL REGIONS. LPCM. DTS HD Master audio. 16.9.10801p. 5.O DTS Master Audio.True surround sound. Subtitles: English, French, German, Korean.Production 2013. Booklet. Essay "East meets West."

REFERENCES: Guinn, J & Stone, L( eds ). The St James opera Encyclopedia. 1997. Visible Ink. Holden, A.(Ed). Penguin Opera Guide. 1995. Viking. Kildea, P. Benjamin Britten. A life in the 20th Century. 2013. Allen Lane.

Faust [Blu-ray] [2014]
Faust [Blu-ray] [2014]
Dvd ~ Gounod
Price: £21.99

13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Faust has been updated to the era from 1914-1945., 7 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Faust [Blu-ray] [2014] (Blu-ray)
Des McAnuff, the director, realized that in a Western secular society , changes to the staging had to be made. But in such a manner, as to do justice to Gounod's score. He was writing for a contemporary audience, so McAnuff believes that if the staging is presented with vision and vitality, the music and the opera's rendition of the Faust myth can grip today's audience.

What inspired McAnuff, a theatre director, was the events of Hiroshima and Nagasaki which really changed the world forever. And he thinks that the Faust legend prophesied that in a very pertinent way. "Faust has really learnt everything. He's acquired ultimate knowledge, which I think applies in a horrifying way to the nuclear bomb and our ability to destroy ourselves. And I'm interested in the personal responsiblity that goes into that, and I think thats the Faustian journey right there."

This journey, takes place in a single instant and over time, the story is seen as an unfolding memory within the split second of the nuclear physicist's suicide in his lab. Faust never leaves the lab. But the stage settings change, showing his memory of the past. The first act is different to Act 3, which in turn is different to the ending. The laboratory is merely the frame work. The staging is minimalist. The costumes are inspired by the First World war, the 1920's and 1930's into the Second world war. This opera is about Faust selling his soul to the devil for his pleasure, and then having to pay the price- hence the expression the Faustian pact. The devil is a sauve, sophisicated Parsian dressed in a white suit and helps Faust to meet Marguerite. All wear costumes in keeping with the times. In Act 2, in the back ground are roses, with a green frame around it. Green and red are complementary colours , every artist knows that. Then the background turns into dusk.

Wait when you hear Kaufmann sing " Let me gaze at your face, in the pale moonlight, the stars of night." He floats his notes, making his voice sound like a lyrical tenor. When you hear these notes, you know why he is the greatest living tenor. Followed by Marguerite, Marina Poplavskaya, who was Desdemonia in a bluray production of Verdi's Othello.Wien Phil cond Muti. She Sings, "Silence! Happiness." She has a dark hue'd voice, which blends in with Kaufmann. When she recorded Othello in 2008, I predicted a big future for her and she has achieved that. Rene Pape is excellent as the worldly Mephistopheles and is masterful in the role. The character of the Devil does not change. Russell Braun is Valentin and is very good. The Met opera orchestra is conducted by Yannick Nezet-Seguin, who says, working with these singers makes it easy for him, regarding the ebb and flow. His tempi are swift. He likes to work with the stage director, so he knows what is happening on the stage and not just concentrate on the music. We have all seen productions where the stage director and the conductor are not on the same page.

Faust has a special place in the hearts of the Metropolitan opera House, for it was the first opera that opened the original opera house in 1883. The orchestra and the singers are as one, and over all the cast is very good, and the staging works. I can throughly recommend this bluray. I do like modern and traditional staged operas, so I can state that those who are of a traditional mind set, might like this one.

Booklet: Essay. The Art of the deal by W. Berger. 1080i HD 16.9. ALL REGIONS. 187 mins. LPCM 26 bit stereo. DTS-HD Master Audio 24 bit surround. Subtitles: English, French, German, Chinese, Korean. Recorded 2011. Bluray picture good.

Bruckner: Complete Symphonies
Bruckner: Complete Symphonies
Price: £25.00

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars These Bruckner 9 symphonies are conducted swiftly., 5 Mar 2014
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The small cardboard box, with lid which opens sideways is tough. The Brilliant box sets I own always are. The picture on the front of the box, is I think the ceiling of the church where Bruckner (1824-1896) is buried. On the back of the box, are the CD number and symphonies in yellow orchre, plus in white at the bottom, who is conducting. The back ground is in dark orange. The cardboard sleeve details are exactly like the box, but with CD numbers on the back, with track numbers and times. When retrieving the CDs from the CD you will not scratch them. The CD is white with the composer's name and orchestra in dark orange, plus CD number. For example, the Brilliant Faure edition has a orange cover and white CDs, with words in light orange. This shows you, how much trouble Brilliant goes to, when producing their box sets. Sound, Compact Disc digital audio, ADD. I suggest the CDs have been remastered, but there is no proof of this fact. The booklet gives you details about the conductors, the symphonies and Bruckner himself. What I like about this booklet, is the company does not assume you have any knowledge about Bruckner's life.

I own the Von Karajan,Jochum and Tintner Bruchner Box sets. Klemperer Live, 4th (1954), 7th ( 1958) and 8th (1957). Knappertsbusch 8th. Furtwanglers 6th and 8th symphonies, recorded live in the 2nd World War, plus Walter's 4th, 7th and 9th symphonies. Even Inbal's recording of the original first score of the 3rd and 4th Symphonies. Therefore, I am attuned to the Bruckner sound.

I would have much prefered to have all 9 symphonies recorded by Rogner, but who has heard of him, I have not. So it was decided to put recordings of Neumann No 1, which is the composers most original symphony. Konwitschny No 2 and Sanderling No 3, along side Rogner's 4- 9 symphonies. What the four conductors have in common apart from the East German connection, is that there is an emotional pulse, throughout all nine Bruckner symphonies. Sanderling's 3rd is passionate and that is all one requires from a conductor of the composer's symphonies. If Sanderling has recorded the entire set of Bruckner symphonies, I would snap them up. Neumann relishes the No 1, for the 4th movement is extremely swift. However, you can see in Konwitschny conducting of the symphony No 2, the principles that guided Rogner, for he was taught by that master conductor.

Bruckner speaks to us through his music, for in that he knew what he was doing. But in life he was naive and had many problems. His original scores he placed in the National libary in Vienna, "for future times." Bruckner was God struck, for through his music, he speaks of this, as for his love of the upper Austrian countryside and his mother. He was a professional organist who played in London, Paris and Nancy. So within these large works, you can hear the orchestra sounding like a large organ. Rogner could play the organ on a professional level, so you can hear the flowing transitions and pedal effects in the orchestra, which would not have been achieved without him being able to play the organ. His tempi are fast, which brings out the sheer emotion, but down plays the spirituality, and shows us the Human face of Bruckner. Even so, you can still hear the organlike music of the orchestra with its clear textures. Rogner shows us there is another way to conduct Bruckner, instead of slow. However, to understand the organ effect, hear J.S Bach's Toccata & Fugue in D minor a work for the organ.

I would say the adagio of the 7th Symphony, as conducted by Heinz Rogner, his orchestra, the Rundfunk-Sinfonie-Orchester Berlin, is beautful and heart felt. But Klemperer in the 8th symphony ( live) is the only conductor of the CDs I own of that work, who captures the Adagio perfectly. I thought I would compare Rogner's times in the BRUCKNER 5th, with that of Jochum, conducting the Staatskapelle Dresden. He played the organ and treated Bruckner's symphony as though it were one. Rogner 1st Mov 19.40. 2nd Mov 14.41. 3rd Mov 13.48. 4th Mov 20.02. Jochum Bruckner 5th. 1st Mov 21.26. 2nd Mov 19.16. 3rd Mov 13.04. 4th Mov 23.42.
BRUCKNER'S 8th symphony. Rogner 1st Mov 12.33. 2nd 13.18. 3rd Mov 26.21. 4th Mov 22.47. Klemperer (live 1957) 1st Mov 14.19. 2nd Mov 14.28. 3rd Mov 22.37. 4th Mov 20.38. Furtwangler ( live Wien 1944). 1st Mov 15.09. 2nd Mov 14.05. 3rd Mov 25.08. 4th Mov 22.17. Jochum 1st Mov 13.55. 2nd Mov 14.00. 3rd Mov 27.24. 4th Mov 20.46.

CD 1 1965. Sym No 1 Linz version, ed. Haas. CD 2.Sym 2 (Live) 1951. 1877 version, ed. Haas. CD 3.Sym 3 1963.1890 version, ed Raettig- a new version. CD 4.Sym 4 1983 & 1984. 1886 version, ed. Nowak. CD 5.Sym 5 1983 & 1984. ed. Nowak. CD 6. Sym 6 1980. ed.Nowak. CD 7. Sym 7 1983. ed.Haas.CD 8 Sym 8 1985 1987/90 version, ed.Haas. CD 9.Sym 9 1983. Ed Nowak.

Bruckner rewrote his symphonies, but so did his pupils, Franz and Josef Schalk, also, the conductors Loewe and Nikisch, to help their friend. They attempted to make these huge scores acceptable to the public; changing parts of the scores, even without the composers permission. Bruckner consistently revised his works 1-4 symphonies. As a result, we have several versions. Sometimes the later editions are improvements, as with the 4th symphony, but sometimes the first version is superior as with the 2nd and 3rd symphony. The problem was that Bruckner suffered from self-doubt and felt inferior to those surrounding him. He felt they must know better. He was no Wagner, or Beethoven his idols, who had great self confidence. But as I have already stated, in his music he had a vision and stuck to it.

The 8th symphony will give you an idea of the type of problems I have mentioned. In 1887 the composer had completed the score to his satisfaction. Hermann Levi who led the World premiere of Parsival, and had become a strong advocate for the 7th symphony, rejected the 8th symphony and would not conduct it. With his pupil Josef Schalk, Bruckner made many cuts and additional changes. Two years later, Bruckner agreed to more revisions in line with the audience expectations and trends of the time. The premiere was given in 1892 with the Vienna Philharmonic conducted by Hans Richter.

In the 1930's, Robert Haas, as editor of the Complete Bruckner Edition, chose to combine details from Bruckner's original 1887 score with amendments made for the 1890 version that Bruckner had created following Levi's rejection of the work. The resulting score included not only revisions that Bruckner had made, but also restored many cuts from the earlier score. Published in 1935, this score was performed in 1939. Leopold Nowak succeeded Haas as chief editor for the International Bruckner society after World war 2. He felt that Haas's score was wrong, because Bruckner had not seen or sanctioned it. Nowak, in turn, created two different versions of the 8th Symphony. He felt strongly that the 1890's score was correct, because of the thoughtful revisions. However, for Nowak's second edition, the editor chose to create the work as closely as possible to Bruckner's original thinking in 1887, before Levi rejected it.The version was first performed in 1954, and not frequently performed after the publication in 1972. However, Tintner suggests that Haas's is the best of three versions. But the original 1887 symphony shows an almost primitive spontaneity.

The 3rd symphony written in 1873 is another example. For after the first performance in 1877 it was a failure. Bruckner revised it in 1878 and then again in 1888-89. Thus, there are three different versions in all, even Franz Schalk got involved changing parts which the composer agreed to. Loewe changed parts of the 4th without the composers approval. The 5th for many years was performed in a version by Franz Schalk that severely truncated its Finale and did so without Bruckner's approval. However, when changes were made that do have the composer's agreement,it is not always possible to determine which were made against his better judgement and which of the two alternative procedures he would prefer. This gives you an understanding of the problems that Bruckner's symphonies do pose. Added to that, there are now newer editions then the Nowak. Those familar with Bruckner are aware of all these problems and watch out for what score is being used. So those Haas and Nowak scores used in this new Bruckner set,are often used today.

To conclude this review, I shall give you some information about the conductors. Valclav Neumann 1920-1995, was born in Prague. He became conductor of the Leipzig Gewandhaus until 1969. He became principal conductor of the Czech Phil, a post he held until 1990. Franz Konwitschny 1901-1962. Played the Viola in the Leipzig Gewandhaus orchestra under Wilhelm Furtwangler. He became a conductor, joining the Stuttgart opera in 1927. From 1949 until his death he was principal conductor of the Gewandhaus orchestra. From 1955 onwards he led the Berlin State opera. Like Furtwangler, Konwitschny used expensive gestures and had a dislike of an exact beat. Recordings: Flying Dutchman. Schech, Schock, Fischer-Dieskau and Wunderlich, Staatskapelle,Berlin. 1960. Tannhauser Hopf, Frick, Fischer-Dieskau, Grummer, Staatskapelle, Berlin.

Kurt Sanderling 1912-2011. He was a rehearsal director for Furtwangler and Kleiber at the Deutsche Oper, Berlin. This was cut short, when the Nazi regime removed him from his post because he was Jewish. He left for the Soviet Union in 1936 where he worked with the Moscow Radio sym orch. From 1942-1950 he was joint principal conductor with Yegeny Mravinsky of the Leningrad Phil. He grew very close to Shostakovich. He was very well liked and got good results from lesser orchestras. He returned to East Germany where he led the Berlin Sym Orch and Dresden Staatskapelle. Sanderling made his British debut in 1970. He was associated with the Philharmonia orch in London 1980. In 2002 he was awarded the CBE. He made complete recordings of the Beethoven Symphonies with the Philharmonia.

Heinz Rogner 1929-2001. From 1947- 1951 he was Kapellmeister of the German National theatre and Staatskapelle Weimar.However, from 1958- 1962 Rogner was Chief conductor of the Leipzig Radio orchestra, 1953- 1993, he was chief conductor of the Berlin Radio symphony orchestra. He was unpretentious and modest,he always evaded questions from Journalists who wanted to get him to talk about his personal life, but he steered questions to music. Thus, when the fall of the Berlin wall happened, he was not news worthy. He was not a star in the classical World. Not a way to get noticed, which is a shame, because his conducting of Bruckner is marvellous. His later development as a Bruckner conductor, stemmed from a relationship with Franz Konwitschny, who performed original versions of Bruckner symphonies.

REFERENCES: Bacharach,A & Pearce J. The Musical Companion 1977. Victor Gollancz. London. Bruckner: Symphony No 8 article, Franz Welser-Most.2010. Arthaus Musik. Tintner G. Bruckner. Naxos. Wikipedia.

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