Thursday, July 21, 2005

QUESTION OF THE DAY July 21, 2005

Pretend that you have just been exiled to a small tropical island. Your place of exile will include a small residence, a lifetime of provisions, and an ample power supply to last for the rest of your life. Now the tricky part. You'll be supplied with a home entertainment center but you will only be allowed to take twenty of your favorite classical recordings. What twenty recordings would you take with you.? Mind you, you are only allowed twenty choices. Multiple CD sets are allowed. Note how I didn't come right out and ask "what are your twenty favorite classical recordings," although that probably would have been more direct. My choices are as follows:

1. THE COMPLETE BEETHOVEN SYMPHONIES: Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus under Sir Georg Solti, the 1970s recordings.

I've always been rather fond of these. This was Solti at his "youthful" best, using all the repeats in powerful, accelerated performances. Indeed, the 6th and 9th rank among my favorite individual performances of these works..

2. THE BACH B MINOR MASS: The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra etc under Herbert VonKarajan

Need we say more?

3. THE COMPLETE MOZART PIANO CONCERTI: Daniel Barenboim conducting the English Chamber Orchestra from the keyboard.

These are little gems that shouldn't be missed under any circumstances. The tempi and balance between orchestra and soloist are nothing less than perfection.

4. THE COMPLETE BEETHOVEN PIANO CONCERTI: The Chicago Symphony Orchestra/Alfred Brendl, piano/James Levine

Again--need we say more?

5. THE COMPLETE WAGNER RING CYCLE: Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra etc/Sir Georg Solti

For those keen on megalomania, this is the place to go. The brass of the Vienna Philharmonic glows, and the performances--both orchestral and vocal are about as powerful as you could hope for. But for all the raw power there is also gentleness and tenderness here. Well done in every way.

6. THE COMPLETE MOZART SYMPHONIES: Academy of Ancient Music/Christopher Hogwood

This was such a major undertaking, and they all work. Alternative versions of certain symphonies make the set even more fascinating.


7. THE COMPLETE CHOPIN NOCTURNES as performed by Vladimir Ashkenazy

I've always liked the way Ashkenazy brings out the passion in these works.



8. THE COMPLETE SYMPHONIES OF BRAHMS: Chicago Symphony Orchestra/Sir Georg Solti

For those keen on large, masculine performances, these are the performances you have been looking for.



9. THE BEETHOVEN AND BRAHMS VIOLIN CONCERTI: Single CD version featuring the Boston Symphony Orchestra under Charles Munch (in the Beethoven); the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under Fritz Reiner (in the Brahms) with violinist Jascha Heifitz.

With the above-mentioned soloist and orchestra forces do we really have to say anything more?


10. THE BEETHOVEN MISSA SOLEMNIS: The Berlin Philharmonic etc. under Herbert VonKarajan. His first recording.

This defies description. Not exactly what one would call a straight-laced performance it overwhelms and never fails to please.

11. THE COMPLETE SYMPHONIES OF GUSTAV MAHLER: The London Philharmonic/Klaus Tennstedt

The London Philharmonic may not be the best orchestra in the world, but in Tennstedt's hands it became a weapon of mass destruction. Sadly, these performances also remind me as to how much I miss the late Maestro Tennstedt

12. THE VERDI REQUIEM: Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus/Claudio Abbado

For those keen on critical editions

13. THE RAVEL PIANO CONCERTI: Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra/Alicia DeLarocha, piano/ Leonard Slatkin

What can I say? I love these works, and DeLarocha has such a delicate, precise touch.

14. THE MOZART REQUIEM (Beyer Edition): Academy St. Martin in the Fields/Neville Marriner

This performance, in our humble opinion, is a definitive--strong and passionate. The Beyer edition corrects a number of "problems" which are found in the standard performing edition.


15. THE COMPLETE BEETHOVEN PIANO SONATAS: Alfred Brendl, second cycle from the late 1970s.

Mature Brendl. Some complained that the performances weren't emotional enough. We still don't know what they were talking about.

16. THE 6 BACH CELLO SONATAS: Yo Yo Ma, Cello

Ma may be a bit of a yo yo, but his professionalism is undeniable.

17. THE COMPLETE BRANDENBURG CONCERTI of J.S. BACH Academy of Anicent Music/Christopher Hogwood

At last a harpsichordist who doesn't treat the harpsichord like a background instrument. A very pianistic treatment of the instrument. Moreover, the smaller forces at play allow the various textures to sound through.

18. VIVALDI: THE COMPLETE "CONFLICT BETWEEN HARMONY AND INVENTION" CONCERTI: Academy of Ancient Music/Christopher Hogwood

Same reasoning as above.

19. TCHAIKOVSKY'S COMPLETE SWAN LAKE: London Symphony
Orchestra/Andre Previn

I love this work. Complete performances are rare, and this one is well performed in every way, as Tchaikovsky would have wanted it done.

20. RACHMANINOFF PIANO CONCERTO NUMBER 3: New York Philharmonic/Vladimir Horwotiz/ Eugene Ormandy.

The New York Philharmonic and Eugene Ormandy were not my favorites, but for Vladimir Horowitz they had to get their act together. This performance defies description.

1 Comments:

Blogger Enlightenment said...

Wow! Twenty! Very generous my man. I would recommend the following:

1. The complete Beethoven Symphonies: Academy of Ancient Music/Christopher Hogwood

2. MOZART: THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO: Vienna Philharmonic/ Carlos Kleiber

3. WAGNER: TRISTAN UND ISOLDE Berlin Philharmonic/Von
Karajan

4. RICHARD STRAUSS: AN ALPINE SYMPHONY. Berlin Philharmonic/Von Karajan

5. ALSO SPRACH ZARATHUSTRA, EIN HELDENLEBEN, DON JUAN, TIL EULENSPIEGEL'S MERRY PRANKS, DOMESTIC SYMPHONY etc...Chicago Symphony Orchestra/Fritz Reiner

6. BEETHOVEN'S FIDELIO: Vienna Philharmonic/Wilhelm Furwangler

7. MOZART's DON GIOVANI: Vienna State Opera Orchestra and Chorus/Karl Bohm

8. BEETHOVEN VIOLIN CONCERTO: New York Philharmonic/Isaac Stern/Leonard Bernstein

9. THE COMPLETE BRUCKNER SYMPHONIES: Chicago S.O./Daniel Barenboim (1970s recordings)

10. MAHLER 9th SYMPHONY: Berlin Philharmonic/Herbert Von Karajan

11. BEETHOVEN: MISSA SOLEMNIS: NBC Symphony Orchestra et al.Arturo Toscanini

12. COMPLETE BEETHOVEN PIANO CONCERTI: Berlin Philharmonic/Wilhelm Kempff/Ferdinand Leitner

13. VERDI: OTELLO. NBC Symphony Orchestra/Toscanini

14. WAGNER"S COMPLETE RING CYCLE: Metropolitan Opera/James Levine

15. DEBUSSY: LA MER etc: Cleveland Orchestra/Pierre Boulez

16. RAVEL: COMPLETE DAPHNIS AND CHLOE BALLET: Berlin Philharmonic et al/Pierre Boulez

17. BACH B MINOR MASS: Chicago S.O. and Chorus/Sir Georg Solti

18. THE COMPLETE HAYDN SYMPHONIES: Philharmonia Hungarica/Antal Dorati

19. THE COMPLETE TCHAIKOVSKY SYMPHONIES: Berlin Philharmonic/Herbert Von Karajan

20. TCHAIKOVSKY 1st PIANO CONCERTO: NBC Symphong, Vladimir Horowitz/ Toscanini.

7/21/2005 2:55 PM  

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