Thanks to the readers who wrote about last month’s column in which I said WBEN-FM is the choice of musical lovers in our area. I meant WNED-FM at 94.5 or on their web site.
A pleasant surprise on Great Voices of the Golden Age (Medici Arts DVD, EDV1333) was the opportunity to see Dutch soprano Gré Brouwenstijn (1905-1999) singing Wagner. Two songs from the Wesendonck-Lieder are followed by Isolde’s Liebestod, recorded live in 1969 during a concert in Paris conducted by Charles Bruck. She possessed a rich voice, an Ingrid Bergman-like countenance and a stage presence that together attracted conductors Klemperer, Karajan, Beecham and others. I wish there were more from her on this disc which includes Gundula Janowitz, Irmgard Seefried, Galina Viishnevskaya, Rita Streich and Christa Ludwig.
Great Voics Of The Golden Age
Christa Ludwig has an excellent DVD containing Die Winterreise and part of a Mozart Master Class (Arthaus DVD 102147). Schubert’s song cycle which is set to the two cycles by Wilhelm Müller is an astonishing realisation of the human condition. Traditionally sung by a male voice, it is no less poignant from a female voice, particularly from an artiste of Ludwig’s calibre. She had them transposed to her natural vocal range so that “... it was my voice and not an artificial voice created just so you can sing something in the original version… I maintain that this is the winter’s journey of a soul and not that of a man or a woman.” Recorded in Athens in 1994, this is an exceptional, devoted performance reflecting a total empathy with the thoughts and implications of the texts.
For those who wish a male voice for Die Winterreise, the DVD of Thomas Quasthoff with pianist Daniel Barenboim, issued a couple of years ago, is the finest I’ve ever seen or heard (DG 0734049). Filmed in the Berlin Philharmonie on 22 March 2005, the disc also contains some interviews and rehearsals. We are privy to singer and accompanist freely exchanging ideas and arriving at meaningful interpretations of matchless intensity.
Schubert: Die Winterreise
Daniel Barenboim is the conductor of his West-Eastern Divan Orchestra in a new DVD of the Leonora Overture No.3 and the Beethoven Ninth (Medici Arts 2055528). This was a concert given in the Berlin Philharmonie on August 27, 2006 with soloists Angela Denoke, soprano; Waltraud Meier, mezzo; Burkhard Fritz, tenor; and René Pape, bass, and the State Opera Chorus. Barenboim assembles the orchestra every summer, bringing together young musicians from Israel and the Arab countries. They tour widely and Barenboim’s hope is that this orchestra is a visible and viable artistic link between their people. Here is absolutely inspired playing with each and every player giving it better than their best. So well rehearsed are they that Barenboim’s directions are fewer than one is accustomed to seeing. I have viewed this DVD several times and have not been tempted to skip forward or stop. These are stunning, professional performances, superbly documented. Viewing this concert and seeing the performers and conductor was a definite plus to the appreciation of the music. Seeing and hearing becomes one experience.
A new DVD entitled Herbert von Karajan Memorial Concert features The Berlin Philharmonic, Seiji Ozawa conducting with soloist Professor Anne-Sophie Mutter recorded in Vienna’s Grosser Musikvereinssaal on the 28 January 2008. The program opens with the Beethoven Violin Concerto followed by an encore of the Sarabande from Bach’s Partita No.2 for solo violin and finally the Tchaikovsky Sixth Symphony (Medici Arts 2072514 for Blu-ray; 2072518 for DVD). All three works are in the stratosphere of superlative interpretations and performances, quite faultless, I thought. The deeply felt performance of the symphony, played without any histrionics, immediately joins the very short list of the greatest on record. Frankly, I didn’t believe that Ozawa had it in him. Mutter has never played better or more brilliantly than she does here, employing the Fritz Kreisler cadenza in the first movement. Her fans, as well as lovers of the concerto will be beside themselves. All are abetted by the best sound ever accorded these pieces. The camera work demonstrates how far the art has progressed over the years, in this case seen from the Blu-ray disc. If you are yet undecided about Blu-ray then this may well be the tipping point for you.
|Herbert Von Karajan Memorial Concert(DVD)
|Herbert Von Karajan Memorial Concert(Blu-Ray)