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Classical R to S

Mahler : Symphony No. 2 ''Resurrection'' : Solti

Mahler - Symphony No. 2, Resurrection / Heather Harper, Helen Watts and the London Symphony Chorus & Orchestra / Solti

The search for the extra-musical world in Gustav Mahler's philosophical and programmatic works will doubtless continue to occupy future generations of music scholars. Today's music lovers, however, are wholly satisfied with the highly varied interpretations and impressive sound reproduction - which is precisely what Mahler wished for his rugged works. For decades, Mahler's dramatic musical masterpieces were misunderstood and scorned as Kapellmeister music. Luckily, interest in his works was revived and all nine symphonies were recorded in the 1960s by the recently deceased conductor Sir Georg Solti. To this day, his cycle has clearly lost nothing of its aura, its reputation for never having been surpassed - how could it otherwise have been so successful for so many years in the light of all the highly competitive, more recent recordings?

After the success of the new pressing of Mahler's First Symphony (DECCA SXL 6113), it was high time that the Resurrection Symphony became available on LP once more. And the result is most impressive. One can only hope that the complete Mahler cycle will one day be resurrected in vinyl. Decca

Mahler : Symphony No. 3 in D Minor : Georg Solti
"My symphony will be something the world has never heard before, The whole of Nature will be lent a voice in it and will impart such deep secrets as those one might imagine in one's dreams." Mahler's vision of music which reflects the world finds its monumental culmination in his Third Symphony. Sir Georg Solti and the London Symphony Orchestra are absolutely ideal for performing this mammoth, highly complex, multi-layered work. With fairly brisk tempo, clearly differentiated strings, and the usual excellent brass, Solti gives a gripping performance which no Mahler fan should miss.
Mahler: Symphony No. 1 : Georg Solti Georg Solti - Mahler: Symphony No. 1 "What kind of a world is this which produces such sounds and forms to portray itself?" said Mahler of his First Symphony and gave the world his answer in the music. What at first sounds like endless Spring is transformed grotesquely to become an eerie collage. Just how deceptive is this idyllic landscape through which the wayfarer wanders? Distant fanfares, furtive melodies and strange cuckoo calls disturb the seemingly peaceful depiction of nature before the cheerful theme melody pushes to the fore. But this peace is transient too. The wayfarer begins to increase his pace, he is not the hunter but the hunted in a hostile world. This symphony neither portrays nor describes - it presents the esthetic counterpart of reality. In view of the recent revival of Mahler and the resultant new recordings of his works, this early DECCA recording cannot be too highly praised. The disc guarantees not only a masterly performance but sumptuous sound and transparency. Decca
Mahler: Symphony No. 9 : Carlo Maria Giulini Carlo Maria Giulini - Mahler: Symphony No. 9 Opinions differ as to whether Mahler's Ninth is a work filled with world-weariness and the pain of leave-taking or whether it is - more strictly speaking - a piece of absolute music. What is certain is that this gigantic composition is one of the last tonal masterpieces which was written on the threshold to modernism. It is no wonder, therefore, that numerous recordings exist - many of which are filled with extreme pathos. Among the plethora of recordings of this later Romantic work, the present interpretation by Giulini and his excellent Chicago Symphony Orchestra stands out for many reasons. Giulini tackles the enormously expressive score with clear analytical reasoning, without becoming merely a dull executor of the musical notes. His performance is filled with transparency even in the finest and smallest melodic elements and glows with a warm and expansive timbre. Even what is often heard as brutal and dynamic in the weighty brass section is here given a more poignant and fateful sound. Deutsche Grammophon
Massenet: Scenes Alsaciennes/ Scenes Pittoresques : Albert Wolff Albert Wolff - Massenet: Scenes Alsaciennes/ Scenes Pittoresques Massenet - Scenes Alsaciennes/ Scenes Pittoresques/ Paris Conservatoire Orchestra / Wolff

Connoisseurs of 19th century French music have always praised in the highest terms Massenet's orchestral suites for their novel ideas and highly imaginative orchestration. Fully aware of its long tradition, the Orchestra of the Paris Conservatoire, where the composer was once a pupil and later a teacher, has recorded two collections of Massenet's delightful musical miniatures. The enchanting poetry of the Scenes Alsaciennes transports us to northern France with all its charm. The musical programme gives the listener an opportunity to experience a Sunday in an Alsace village, to wander through the narrow streets, to harken to the singing in the church, and to enjoy the merry folk dancing. Thanks to the brilliant orchestration, an orchestra which plays from the heart, and a delightfully airy tone, the owner of this recording is guaranteed a lucky man.(Originally London.)

Mendelssohn & Chopin: Cello Sonatas : Janos Starker Janos Starker and Gyorgy Sebok - Mendelssohn & Chopin: Cello Sonatas Any release by Janos Starker is eagerly awaited by record collectors the world over. The New York Times pinpointed the reason: "The clue to his appeal as a concert performer is a melding of poet, virtuoso and thinker, that fascinating mixture of fire and ice in his playing." He is accompanied here by his childhood friend and longtime collaborator, Gyorgy Sebok, in elegant and magical performances. Mercury Living Presence
Mendelssohn In Scotland Peter Maag Peter Maag - Mendelssohn In Scotland
Richard Wagner once described his fellow composer Felix Mendelssohn as a painter of landscapes in music. Mendelssohn obviously had no objections to this judgment when he set off for England with the intention of gathering folk melodies that he heard there. What he harvested during his travels came to fruition 12 years later in the form of his "Scottish" Symphony, now heard in this wonderful performance by Peter Maag and the London Symphony Orchestra. Maag's intelligent conducting retains a balance between magical romantic timbre and analytical objectivity, whereby a wholly intentional underlying elegiac mood even spreads its veil over the hymnal third movement and the thrilling finale. His well-moulded interpretation is supported by a clearly stratified orchestral sound which is a real joy to hear, remaining pure and refined. Many a Mendelssohn lover would say that this recording should be cast in iron for posterity. But instead, here it is on four 45rpm discs ­ a real collectors item! Decca
Mendelssohn: A Midsummer Night's Dream : Peter Maag Peter Maag - Mendelssohn: A Midsummer Night's Dream Soloists, London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus conducted by Peter Maag

With Maag and the LSO. Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy composed the overture to Midsummer Night's Dream (Op. 21) in 1826 before he completed twelve other works for stage inspired by Shakespeare's famous play years later. His famous wedding march and the most important pieces of A Midsummers Night's Dream are included in this sought-after Decca recording. This composition is the most important of Mendelssohn Bartholdy's stage works and is still an audience favorite today -- a fact that explains the frequent performances (especially the overture) and numerous recordings. World class musicians like the soloists Jennifer Vyvyan and Marion Lowe and the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Peter Maag supported by the Royal Opera House Women's Chorus, Covent Garden ascertain the early composition and character of Mendelssohn Bartholdy's later pieces. The quality of the interpretation leaves nothing to be desired and every listener is conveyed into a world of dreams, not only during a summer night. Decca

Messiaen : Quatuor pour la Fin du Temps : Barenboim Daniel Barenboim - Messiaen: Quatuor pour la Fin du Temps The title alone "Quartet for the end of time" and the fact that it was composed in 1940, when war was raging, give one an inkling of the ominous background to the writing of this piece of music. Messiaen had been captured by the German army during the occupation of France and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp near Gorlitz, where he was held for a long, hard year. He was permitted to have manuscript paper, and was able to compose the quartet. On January 15 he and three fellow prisoners were given the opportunity to perform the piece before an audience of about 400 prisoners. Messian's Quartet is not written in the classical four-movement form but as an eight-movement suite. Each section is a musical expression of programmatic meditation on the Creation and the Gospel according to St. John. The melodic writing is such that the listener is given a feeling of timelessness and endless space. Deutsche Grammophon
Mozart : Symphony No. 40 & 41 : Giulini Giulini - Mozart: Symphony No. 40 & 41 Mozart: Symphonies Nos. 40 K. 550 and 41 K. 551 Jupiter - New Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Carlo Maria Giulini

Like all the works he composed during his extremely productive years in Vienna, Mozart's last two symphonies are remarkable for their ambitious and demanding individuality, despite the fact that they were written in the amazingly short space of only six weeks. Any inference to the dire circumstances in which the composer was living at the time might possibly be detected in the grave character of Symphony No. 40 in G Minor. The so-called Jupiter-Symphony, however, which owes its name to the Roman god, brims over with an endless joy of life. The powerful final movement with its combination of fugal technique, rondo and sonata form is quite rightly regarded as a unique compositional achievement in the classical era.

The Mozart specialist Carlo Maria Giulini, who only enters the recording studio when he is quite totally sure of a thing, has set down a performance here which does without orchestral fireworks and concentrates on a seemingly endless flow of melody. The orchestral playing is light, airy and unpretentious, the strings as soft as silk - what more could Mozart have wished for. Decca

Mozart : Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 19 & 27 : Ferenc Fricsay Ferenc Fricsay - Mozart: Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 19 & 27

In spite of varying degrees of popularity of Mozart's numerous piano concertos, no one would seriously consider ranking them by quality. It would certainly prove an impossible task, for each and every one of these intense yet often playful compositions could be considered the most perfect of its genre. In view of this, one should concentrate on each work's highly individual character and this can hardly be more contrasting than in the present two pieces. Thanks to the joyous, energetic disposition at No. 19 in F Major, K. 259, it appears to be filled with the exuberant spirit of Mozart's Viennese period - a time when he amazed audiences with his dexterity at the keyboard. As a contrast, the mood of the late No. 27 in B flat major, K. 595, which was performed in a small circle, is introvert and mellow. The old adage that Mozart's final concerto was a gesture of farewell and filled with a premonition of death is certainly not substantiated by Haskil and Fricsay's performance. Through the subtle and flowing clarity of her piano part under the tense and elastic opposition of the orchestra, the soloist banishes the question of the end of time into the background and so pays homage to the relaxed and self-assured mastery of the Salzburg composer. Deutsche Grammophon

Mozart : The Tube Only Night Music : Wojciech Rajski Wojciech Rajski - The Tube Only Night Music Mozart's highly popular Serenade K. 525 is veiled in mystery. Everyone knows and loves the driving fanfare theme of its beginning, but no one knows for which occasion the work was composed nor what has happened to its fifth movement, which the Salzburg maestro is supposed to have written. Record critics have been cautious for two reasons. The first is that the market has been swamped with recordings, and the second is that there is not a great deal to report about cheap productions which can be bought at supermarkets and discount stores. At long last, the present recording on the audiophile Tacet label brings light into the darkness surrounding this Night Music. The Polish Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra performs standard works with an emotional freshness and over the years has deservedly become a welcome guest at concert venues all over the globe. Wojciech Rajski's Mozart is unaffected and flows freely with lively tempi. He easily deals with the disparity between the lightness of this effervescent music and its elaborate compositional technique which is characteristic for this mature work. It goes without saying that Tacet's tube-only recording technique guarantees a more than adequate reproduction of this top artistic performance.
Mozart : Sinfonia Concertante/ David & Igor Oistrakh, viola & violin : Kiril Kondrashin Kiril Kondrashin - Mozart: Sinfonia Concertante/ David & Igor Oistrakh, viola & violin For Violin, Viola and Orchestra (K. 364), Duo for Violin and Viola (K. 423) - David and Igor Oistrakh and the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Kyrill Kondrashin

"Now I am going to compose a Sinfonia Concertante," wrote Mozart to his father, quite unsuspecting that his contribution to this hybrid of concerto and symphony would not bring the immediate approval and success to which he was accustomed. But opinions have changed drastically since then, especially since the Sinfonia Concertante K.364 has far greater depth to it than its title suggests. The wealth of melodic ideas, subtly allotted alternately to the soloist and the orchestra testifies to the fact that this is one of Mozart's mature orchestral masterpieces which he composed while in Vienna. The superb performers in this DECCA recording guarantee that the listener will not only enjoy the deceptive merriment of the outer movements but will be deeply moved by the sad Andante. What bad luck for rival performances!

But when father and son take up their bows, this is the recording to beat all recordings! On the B side, the Duo for Violin and Viola K.423 is a welcome bonus since it offers us a wonderful opportunity for a display of virtuosity and counterpoint. And of course the old question pops up once again as to who is the better master of his instrument: father or son? The answer is simple: neither one nor the other! - Both, of course! Decca

Mozart: Clarinet Concertos : Peter Maag Peter Maag - Mozart: Clarinet Concertos Horn Concertos Nos. 1-3 - Gervase de Peyer, Barry Tuckwell, London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Peter Maag

The performance of the Clarinet Concerto is as fine as any available, fluent and lively, with masterly phrasing in the slow movement and a vivacious finale. The coupling, Maag's superb account of the Prague Symphony, is one of the best in the catalogue, and with excellent recording this is a wholly desirable disc. There is smooth velvety richness about dePeyer's playing that is the result of flawless execution. The long cantilena of the slow movement demonstrates his flawless breath control. Maag's accompaniment matches each soloist's artistry perfectly. This one goes to the top. Recorded on November 25-26, 1959 in Kingsway Hall. Ray Minshull, producer; Kenneth E. Wilkinson, engineer. London Blueback Guide gives this a high rating of 19 /20. Decca

Mozart: Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 19 & 27 : Haskill Ferenc Fricsay - Mozart: Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 19 & 27 In spite of varying degrees of popularity of Mozart's numerous piano concertos, no one would seriously consider ranking them by quality. It would certainly prove an impossible task, for each and every one of these intense yet often playful compositions could be considered the most perfect of its genre. In view of this, one should concentrate on each work's highly individual character and this can hardly be more contrasting than in the present two pieces. Thanks to the joyous, energetic disposition at No. 19 in F Major, K. 259, it appears to be filled with the exuberant spirit of Mozart's Viennese period - a time when he amazed audiences with his dexterity at the keyboard. As a contrast, the mood of the late No. 27 in B flat major, K. 595, which was performed in a small circle, is introvert and mellow. The old adage that Mozart's final concerto was a gesture of farewell and filled with a premonition of death is certainly not substantiated by Haskil and Fricsay's performance. Through the subtle and flowing clarity of her piano part under the tense and elastic opposition of the orchestra, the soloist banishes the question of the end of time into the background and so pays homage to the relaxed and self-assured mastery of the Salzburg composer. Deutsche Grammophon
Mozart: Eine Kleine Nachtmusik/ Divertimento No. 1/ A Musical Joke :Karl Munchinger Karl Munchinger - Mozart: Eine Kleine Nachtmusik/ Divertimento No. 1/ A Musical Joke Mozart - Eine Kleine Nachtmusik/ Munchinger

Musicians rarely play Mozart like this in modern times. Romantic interpretations that bring out the beauty of Mozart's writing. Gorgeous recording. Purists beware! Recorded October-November, 1960 in Victoria Hall, Geneva. James Walker, producer; Roy Wallace, engineer. Decca

Mozart: Mass No. 18 in C Minor KV427 : Fricsay Ferenc Fricsay - Mozart: Mass No. 18 in C Minor KV427 It is not often that incomplete works enjoy great popularity. And it is even rarer that a torso should exercise such great importance in music history, but this is the case with Mozart’s Great Mass, K. 427. The C minor Mass is always spoken of as if it were complete: it is spoken of with reverence, eyes looking towards Heaven, lost in the beauty of the music, transported to celestial heights. Mozart combines the compositional style of the Baroque masters with the more modern style of the Viennese Classic. Lofty arioso sections alternate with tremendous choral sections for up to eight parts whose splendid and spectacular timbre broke the bounds of tradition and set new standards for the genre.
This Mass is, of course, not merely performed but celebrated, as the Berlin RSO under its Principal Conductor Ferenc Fricsay has so admirably demonstrated in this recording. Precise entries, strict tempi, a polished orchestral timbre and vocal soloists so brilliant one might think they were standing in one’s own front room lend this recording top marks for musical quality and repertoire value.

Recording: September/ October 1967 at the Haus des Rundfunks, Berlin by Werner Wolf / Production:Otto Gerdes. Deutsche Grammophon
Mozart: Notturno for Four Orchestras : Peter Maag Peter Maag - Mozart: Notturno for Four Orchestras Serenata notturna, Overture to Lucio Silla, Interludes from Thamos, König in Ägypten (K. 345) - London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Peter Maag

Bad weather in Salzburg and particularly the dark and damp months in December and January played a large role in the creation of Mozart's Notturni. Music-making in the home was thusly created to help add some cheer for the upper classes during the dreary days of winter. The serenades of the Salzburg genius greatly influenced the societal and evening music which resembled chamber and symphonic music.

The Lucio Silla Overture derives its name from an opera with the same title. Historical background of the piece exhibits a gory, political altercation of a Roman general. This work was a deviation from the norms of musical composition with a certain developed quality and was perhaps the reason why it was not as popular in Milan as Mozart's other works. The consequences were that Mozart received no more commissions from Italian operas.

The theatrical music of the historical drama Thamos, König von Ägypten was unique for Mozart, though this kind of music was not unusual for its time. The so-called interludes served as a sort of bridge during intermissions. Peter Maag and the London Symphony Orchestra stage an excellent performance with exquisite tonal artfulness, exemplary dynamics and accenting of this wonderful kind of music which reveals the splendidly colourful scores of one of the greatest musical phenomena: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Decca

Mozart: Oboe Quartet & String Quintet

Various Artists - Mozart: Oboe Quartet & String Quintet

The term "chamber music" alone makes one think that such music is created just for a private circle of listeners. In many cases, however, public figures or great virtuosos were the dedicatees of compositions for small instrumental ensembles. Mozart wrote his Oboe Quartet K. 370 for Friedrich Ramm, the first oboist in the Bavarian Elector's orchestra. Heinz Holliger treads in Ramm's footsteps in this recording and proves to be a worthy follower with his rich sound and prominent demeanor. With fitting demureness, the ensemble allows room for the delicate, long-held tones, which the glass harp specialist Bruno Hoffmann conjures up with his nimble fingers - ranging from fine as a hair to bright as a bell. Philips

Mozart: Piano Concertos Nos. 20 & 21/ Friedrich Gulda, pianist : Claudio Abbado Claudio Abbado - Mozart: Piano Concertos Nos. 20 & 21/ Friedrich Gulda, pianist Friedrich Gulda is known to all. He is the musical wizard with the embroidered cap, an artist who is equally at home in jazz, the Vienneses lied or the works of the Viennese Classic. Gulda might have only performed a small number of his Austrian compatriot's 27 piano concertos, but with tese few he certainly created a sensation. That the present recording of the Concertos Numbers 20 and 21, even after 25 years, is still regarded as ranking among the very best performance is something that can be heard after just a few bars. The minor-key piano joins in with almost somber clarity and proceeds to lead a concentrated, tightly enmeshed conversation with the orchestra. The C Major Concerto sparkles brightly with its thrilling, vituoso part-writing and transparent, almost chamber-like instrumental ensemble. The listener will do well here to forget the popular concept of a fun-loving, high-spirited Mozart and to recognize the ardent, passionate side of the composer. Deutsche Grammophon
Orff: Carmina Burana : Eugen Jochum Eugen Jochum - Orff: Carmina Burana This recording brings together a young cast in a performance bristling with energy. The sound is overwhelming in its impact. The secret of the overwhelming success of Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana lies in its skillful and apparently simple mixture of archaic rhythms and sounds (derived from the composer’s convictions about what ancient music must have sounded like) with the sort of music that was actually performed at medieval mystery plays. Deutsche Grammophon
Prokofiev: Classical Symphony - OSR | Ernest Ansermet

Ernest Ansermet - Prokofiev, Glinka & Borodin Classical Symphony

Reissued Decca SXL from Speakers Corner. Prokofiev's miniature, the "Classical Symphony," combines several superlatives as regards both its musical notes and form: It is only 15 minutes long, contains a wealth of melodic ideas, and is the most performed of all Prokofiev's symphonies.

This four-movement composition employs traditional forms such as the sonata form in the outer movements and the pre-Classical dances menuet and gavotte. The work's carefree esprit, serenade-like humor, and courtly elegance is delightful throughout and culminates in a high-spirited sturm und drang finale.

On the B side is Glinka's "Kamarinskaya Fantasy," only eight minutes long but captivating with its extremely closely-knit compositional style, and his overture to "A Life for the Czar," a showpiece whose leitmotifs are truly forward-looking. Alongside these classical-romantic musical gems, Borodin's "In The Steppes of Central Asia" acts as an ideal programmatic amalgamation of the Orient and the Occident, and fits perfectly into this choice of repertoire.

Prokofiev : Romeo and Juliet Suites Nos. 1 & 2 : Skrowaczewski Stanislaw Skrowaczewski - Prokofiev: Romeo and Juliet Suites Nos. 1 & 2 As is widely known, ballet suites are the "little sisters" of large ballet compositions that have been compiled by the composer mostly at a later date for performance in the concert hall. Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet is another story however. Strangely enough, his two Suites were given their first performance before the premiere of the complete ballet. The applause can still be heard echoing through the world of music. This music is one of the pillars of a good record collection - and with good reason. Both Suites contain a wealth of delightful melodies that are given substance by colorful harmonic writing. Just how ideal Prokofiev can sound is brought to us by Stanislaw Skrowacziewski and the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra. In the first Suite he lets his musicians sweep with elan through the Burlesque, the splendor of the Love Theme is full of lyrical intensity and rises to a forceful climax filled with sharp dissonances in Death of Tybalt. The Second Suite, too, is of the very highest standard, both from an artistic and recording point of view. The characteristic themes and motifs are well contoured and brought to the fore while embedded in a fresh and natural carpet of sound which is sometimes filled with immense warmth. It is clearly noticeable that all participants have given much time and thought to this first-rate production. And the listener will certainly enjoy giving over a good portion of his leisure time to this delightful music. Mercury Living Presence
Prokofiev : Symphony No. 5 in B Flat : Antal Dorati Antal Dorati - Prokofiev: Symphony No. 5 in B Flat Prokofiev was extremely proud of his Fifth Symphony, which he regarded as his most important work and referred to as celebrating "the grandeur of the human spirit and a hymn to free and joyful humanity." But even without this emphatic acknowledgement of the Soviet ideological social system, his work was well accepted by the public and not long after its Moscow premiere was performed to great acclaim in Europe. The composition is written in a traditional, four-movement form and is filled with highly expressive, lyrical themes, which are broadly expanded and make full use of the orchestra's registers and sound coloring. Mercury Living Presence

 

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