It's intriguing to compare this recording of Brahms' first two symphonies by Vladimir Jurowski and the London Philharmonic Orchestra from 2008 with recordings of the same works and the same orchestra by Wolfgang Sawallisch in the 1980s, Eugen Jochum in the 1970s, and Adrian Boult in the 1960s. Jurowski's tempos are generally much quicker, his textures much leaner, and his attacks much more incisive than any of the earlier recordings.
Glyndebourne has wisely preserved the best of Melly Still's literal,cluttered and ugly 2009 staging; its world-class soundtrack;.Dvorak's operatic masterpiece is in Belohlavek's bones, and he gets a thrilling and luminous account of the ravishing score from the LPO on virtually flawless form. It is the most central European of london's symphonic bands, and certainly equals, if not surpasses, the idiomatic Czech Philharmonic on rival sets conducted by Vaclav Neumann (supraphon) and Charles Mackerras (Decca). Ana Maria Martinez's Rusalka-more warm -blooded than Gabriela Benackova , less self-indulgent then Renee Fleming-gives one of the most ecstatic acounts of the famous Song to the Moon on disc.
By nature shy and retiring, Klaus Tennstedt was a reluctant celebrity, and his international career in the last quarter of the twentieth century must have seemed utterly incredible to him. Yet as introverted and introspective as Tennstedt was, it doesn't seem at all obvious in this 1983 concert recording of Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 6 in A minor, "Tragic," for this is one of the conductor's most extroverted, aggressive, and potent performances.
Glyndebourne's celebrated production of Nikolaus Lehnhoff's Tristan und Isolde is a supremely intelligent achievement; gravely beautiful, haunting and meditative, it is deeply reflective rather than visceral, fortified by Roland Aeschlimann's stunningly effective set, a womb-like space through which the protagonists move like gods. Conductor Jiří Bělohlávek mirrors Lehnhoff's approach in his sophisticated plumbing of the score's depths, with every shift in texture carefully laid bare by an inspired London Philharmonic Orchestra. Nina Stemme's Isolde and Robert Gambill's Tristan, both gloriously lyrical, are matched by superb performances from René Pape as the betrayed and vulnerable King Marke and Bo Skovhus as Kurwenal, deeply touching in his helpless devotion to Tristan. This High Definition recording of a production of uncommon intimacy reveals the opera's music and drama in a new light.
English-speaking audiences have always found Die Meistersinger to be a life-enhancing celebration of wisdom, art and song. So it proves in David McVicar's production – the first at Glyndebourne – which is updated to the early-19th century of Wagner's childhood. At the centre of a true ensemble cast is Gerald Finley, a 'gleamingly sung', 'eminently believable' Sachs (The Independent on Sunday), supported by the dynamic conducting of Vladimir Jurowski which, like McVicar's production, uses Glyndebourne's special intimacy to bring sharp focus to bear on the subtlety of Wagner's musical and dramatic counterpoint.
Back another two centuries, to 1640 and a late masterpiece by the first great figure in opera history: Claudio Monteverdi and his Il ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria – “The Return of Ulysses to his Homeland”. Raymond Leppard conducted a production at Glyndebourne in the early 1970s, based on his own edition of the textually problematic work – there are gaps in the only surviving score. Revived in 1979, the production – which has gone down in the annals of opera legend – was recorded by CBS. Gramophone’s reviewer declared the performance “gloriously vivid in humanity and splendour.