Noah Levine (born 1971) is an American Buddhist teacher and the author of the books Dharma Punx: A Memoir and Against the Stream. As a counselor known for his philosophical alignment with Buddhism and punk ideology, he identifies his Buddhist beliefs and practices with both the Theravada and Mahayana traditions. He holds a master's degree in counseling psychology from CIIS.
In many ways this is a special recording. It features first-desks from the Chicago Sym. playing two of Bach's Brandenburg Concertos, and so far beyond the average Baroque ensemble are they that one yearns for the other four. Just to hear the amazing trumpet solos in Concerto no. 2 by the legendary Adolph Herseth repays the cost of the CD. But we also get James Levine doing double duty at the harpsichord in Concerto no. 5. One deficit from the rise of period performance is that non-specialists have been driven out. The days when an all-around musician like Levine or Leonard Bernstein performed Bach and Handel are more or less over, and their replacements, to be tactful, are not on such an exalted level of talent…. By Santa Fe Listener
This was to be the end of the line for Italian word-setting by Viennese composers: once the confident sentiments that belonged to the poet Metastasio's opera seria felt the chill and threatening wind of Enlightenment and Revolution, their time was up. Even we, for the most part, prefer to remember the German-speaking Beethoven, Schubert and Haydn. So it is good to be reminded of their responses to the Italian muse (usually as part of their craft-learning student work) in this particularly well-cast recital. Central Europe, in the person of Andras Schiff meets Italy, in Cecilia Bartoli, to delightful, often revelatory effect.
Leading the enormous forces to bring Puccini's huge vision to life in this now-legendary performance, James Levine presides over an evening of three one-act operas that cover the full spectrum of human experience. The great singing actress Renata Scotto is featured in all three operas, perhaps most memorably in her searing portrayal of Suor Angelica - a nu whose extreme atonement for he sin ultimately wins her redemption.
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James Levine's is a more recent entry in the realm of Dutchman recordings, and sonically the recording is absolutely stunning, with great attention having been paid to the recording process. The casting for this Metropolitan Opera effort is also uniformly first rate, even in the less grateful roles of the hapless Erik, sung by the impressive Ben Heppner, and the scolding nurse, Mary, sung by Birgitta Svendén. Morris's brooding Dutchman is hard to match on any other available recording, and Deborah Voigt is a ravishing Senta. The chorus work is quite good, though not quite as rich as that heard in the Solti/Chicago recording. Overall, Levine does a workmanlike job of conducting these impressive forces, though there are passages in which his tempi seem to drag. This recording is a must for anyone who needs a completely up to date version of Wagner's first major opera.