Throughout the 1970s, conductor and composer Leonard Bernstein was invited to lead the greatest orchestras of the world in a number of concerts that since such time have become legendary. Now, these historic performances are available on DVD for the first time. This Leonard Bernstein collectors's boxed set is the ultimate concert experience on DVD, and it is also the perfect companion to the Leonard Bernstein's Young People's Concerts DVD set.
The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra is a cultural ambassador for Israel, and is regarded as one of the best orchestras in the world. Recorded in the Mann Auditorium, Tel Aviv in March 2010, this concert sees the Israel Philharmonic conducted in this all-Beethoven programme by the eminent conductor and violinist Itzhak Perlman. After the Egmont Overture, Perlman and the orchestra are joined by the Perlman/Schmidt/Bailey Trio for the beautiful ‘Triple’ Concerto. The programme concludes with the rousing and evocative ‘Pastoral’ Symphony.
These classic recordings need little comment from me on artistic grounds. Heifetz's account of the Mendelssohn never has been bettered for sheer dazzling virtuosity, and although the Beethoven is more controversial (some find it "cold"), I love its unaffected, truly classical purity. Besides, you also get Munch and the Boston Symphony, no mean bonus. It's interesting to compare the two performances in multichannel sound, since the Beethoven is two-track, while the Mendelssohn offers three.
A stunning 12-CD box set, Beethoven Unbound, will be released to mark the completion of Llŷr Williams’ monumental Beethoven cycle at Wigmore Hall and the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama (RWCMD) – recorded live at Wigmore Hall over three years and nine recitals.
In the 1950s these recordings would have given a very up-to-date impression, I imagine; the playing is extremely clean there's never a hint of sentimental violin slides or over-use of the sustaining pedal. But nearly half a century later, perhaps we're more conscious of the old-world virtues Schneiderhan's beautiful legato bowing and gentle vibrato, Kempff's full, unforced tone, and a flexible approach from both artists, with finely graded ritardandos and subtle variations of tempo.
This really was quite a fine recording of Beethoven's Missa Solemnis, one of the best in years and easily the best of the early music recordings. The Choeur de la Chapelle Royale et du Collegium Vocale sing with strength and stamina, but also with grace and beauty of tone. The Champs Elysees Orchestra plays with power and precision, but also with unity of ensemble and beauty of tone, a very rare quality in an early music orchestra. And Herreweghe himself is actually an apt interpreter of the work. Not only does he have a knack for bringing out better than the best in his performers, but he actually seems to believe in the spiritual and sublime essence of the work, a very, very rare quality in any conductor these days. The result is a performance which, while it doesn't rival the 1940 Toscanini, the 1965 Klemperer, or the 1974 Böhm, does express the overwhelming sense that the numinous is imminent. Harmonia Mundi's sound is rich and vibrant.- James Leonard
Often, artists embrace MTV Unplugged as an opportunity to stroll through their back catalog. Not Alanis Morissette. Instead of concentrating on the familiar (only four songs from Jagged Little Pill are here, and neither of its sequel's hits, "Thank U" and "So Pure," are performed), Morissette uses Unplugged as a way to reintroduce Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie to an audience that largely ignored it the first time around. It's easy to see why Morissette is so intent on selling these songs. Although their meaning may be elusive at times, they're extremely personal songs, which benefit from the stripped-down arrangements and intimate surroundings…