Swan Lake was the first of Tchaikovsky's three great ballets– works which added a new level of depth and sophistication to what had been a purely superficial art form. Today the music is so well-known and popular that it's impossible to comprehend the difficulties the composer experienced at early performances. Audiences found the music "too symphonic," and the dancers were put off by the prominence given to the orchestra which, they felt, distracted ballet fans from the action on stage. Of course, all of these supposed "defects" are precisely what we admire about the music today, and this elegant but exciting performance reveals the music in all of its glory.
The late Mstislav Rostropovich and Seiji Ozawa deliver probably the greatest digital recording of the Dvorak concerto. For those familiar with the analog Karajan/Rostropovich recording, this digital recording finds the soloist creating a similar impression married with a more supportive Ozawa and the Boston Symphony. Karajan's creamy string sound and often overly-dramatic stylization is replaced here by Ozawa's stricter approach; his handling of the orchestra is masterful in this taught, precise reading. The legendary Boston Symphony responds resplendently and, although they may not highlight the rustic Czech idiom of this music, they certainly bring much charm, warmth, and expected musicality to the accompaniment. But enough about the orchestra - on to Rostropovich.
Originally released by Philips Classics on VHS and Laserdisc in 1991, the 13-part Mozart on Tour series chronicles the journeys of the child, adolescent and adult Mozart across Europe, in what was ultimately to prove a futile pursuit of fame and fortune.
Lucy Worsley traces the forgotten and fascinating story of the young Mozart's adventures in Georgian London. Arriving in 1764 as an eight-year-old boy, London held the promise of unrivalled musical opportunity. But in telling the telling the tale of Mozart's strange and unexpected encounters, Lucy reveals how life wasn't easy for the little boy in a big bustling city.
Tom Service plunges into the life and times of Mozart to try and rediscover the greatness and humanity of the living man in his moment. Mozart's prodigious output and untimely death have helped place him on a pedestal that can often blind us to the unique brilliance of his work in the context of his life and times.
Yundi Li goes from strength to strength. Deeply thoughtful and formidably virtuosic, he makes light work of Prokofiev’s nightmarish technical demands. This is a really superb disc. As for Seiji Ozawa, he comes in for some bad press these days but here he is a quite wonderful accompanist, coaxing haunting, unforgettable sounds from the Berlin Phil.