In memoriam Maestro Maazel, Sony Classical re-releases the “Maazel Great Recordings” 30-CD Box to honour his great work. During his career, he conducted more than 150 orchestras in some 5,000 opera and concert performances. He served as general manager and artistic director at the Vienna State Opera and conducted the Bayreuth Festival in Germany, the first American to do so in both cases. He also served at the Radio Symphony of Berlin, the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra and the Munich Philharmonic.
Finland's Jean Sibelius is perhaps the most important composer associated with nationalism in music and one of the most influential in the development of the symphony and symphonic poem. Sibelius was born in southern Finland, the second of three children. His physician father left the family bankrupt, owing to his financial extravagance, a trait that, along with heavy drinking, he would pass on to Jean. Jean showed talent on the violin and at age nine composed his first work for it, Rain Drops. In 1885 Sibelius entered the University of Helsinki to study law, but after only a year found himself drawn back to music. He took up composition studies with Martin Wegelius and violin with Mitrofan Wasiliev, then Hermann Csillag…
This was one of the first digital version (the very first?) of Tchaikovsky's violin concerto and remains pretty competitive though perhaps not a first choice. Kremer's playing is surely polished and technically impressive; the phrasing is wonderful and the tone beautiful. Still, it is unfortunately a little short on charm and expressive depth - Tchaikovsky's concerto isn't really the most appropriate vehicle neither for classical restraint nor almost curmudgeonly introspective approaches; it is peripatetic grand drama and passion and heart-on-sleeve through and through and despite Kremer's sweetness of tone he never manages to scale the heights or plunge the emotional abysses of the music.
Lorin Maazel's early recordings are the ones collected here and they are his finest work. Maazel was always a gifted conductor but as he aged he had a tendency to slow his tempi substantially, which I find conveys a somewhat diffuse and unfocused quality to his interpretations. His early work, however, is incisive, dramatic, beautifully articulated and well-textured. He extracts wonderful performances from his orchestras, with a special ability to make woodwinds and strings combine to magical effect.