Involving, as it does, three master musicians and a fine chamber orchestra this was never likely to be be other than rewarding. It may not correspond with the ways of playing Mozart at the beginning of the twenty-first century which are fashionable at the beginning of the twenty-first century, but it has virtues – such as high intelligence, sympathy, certainty of purpose, grace, alertness of interplay – which transcend questions of performance practice. Looking at the names of the pianists above, we might be surprised by the presence of Sir Georg Solti, so used are we to thinking of him as a conductor. But the young Solti appeared in public as a pianist from the age of twelve and went on to study piano in Budapest, with Dohnányi and Bartok.
Barenboim is an excellent Wagner conductor, and it's a pity his ongoing series of Wagner operas is often forced to make do with less than splendid voices. All the more reason, then, to enjoy this excellent disc of overtures and preludes, all of which are played to the hilt by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and recorded in sound of superb amplitude.
An all-star cast featuring Deutsche Grammophon artist Anna Netrebko, Bryn Terfel and Anna Prohaska, delivers a sensational new recording of Mozart’s Don Giovanni, conducted by Daniel Barenboim at the start of his inaugural season as Music Director of La Scala. Recorded live at the opening of the 2011-12 La Scala season, Don Giovanni is now set to be released in time for Bryn Terfel’s 50th birthday on 9 November 2015. It also ties in with the traditional opening of the new season at La Scala – 7 December, the feast-day of St Ambrose, patron saint of Milan.
A Verdi Requiem with a dream line-up of soloists and the forces of La Scala, Milan, directed by one of the greatest maestros of our time. Preceding acclaimed performances at the Lucerne and Salzburg Festivals, Barenboim and his magnificent partners recorded this masterpiece around a live performance at La Scala, Milan, in 2012. This marks the first audio recording by Barenboim in his role as La Scala’s Music Director.
The Verdi Requiem, though is even better, and receives even better performances. When this was made in 1969-70, all four principals were at the top of their form. Montserrat Caballé was at her best in the 60's through around 1972, and here she shows herself to be THE Verdi soprano of the last forty years. Her large, clear, glorious voice, seamless legato and magical pianissimi are heard to great advantage here. Her "Libera me" is a masterpiece of sound and vocal acting. Fiorenza Cossotto was similarly in her prime here, and she is stunning - powerful in the "Liber scriptus" yet capable of soft, tender singing and her "Lux aeterna" haunts the ear. Jon Vickers is an unusual tenor.
A revolutionary treatment of one of the "sacred cows" of the opera repertoire. Daniel Barenboim, who here conducts, invited Munich film director Doris Dorrie to produce Cosi fan tutte for the Staatsoper Berlin in 2002, and the resulting project drew plaudits from die-hard Mozart fans as well as introducing a whole new generation to the opera genre.