"If anyone has recorded a lovelier Mozart recital in recent years, I've yet to hear it. In her early thirties, Kozená is now consummate mistress of her art. Her liquid high mezzo, with its easy upward extension, combines warmth with the bloom and freshness of youth, while her coloratura, on display in 'Al desio di chi t'adora' . . . is as brilliant and expressive as Bartoli's, yet without the Italian diva's intrusive aspirates . . . Fortepianist Jos van Immerseel is an equally sympathetic partner in an impassioned yet intimate performance . . ." ~Gramophone
Classical and jazz pianist and composer, Friedrich Gulda was one of Austria's premiere pianists. Born in Vienna in 1930, Gulda started piano lessons at the age of seven. When he was 12, he enrolled in the Vienna Music Academy, and four years later received first place in the Geneva International Music Festival. In 1949, Gulda toured Europe and South America, earning international acclaim for his treatments of Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven, and the following year he successfully debuted at Carnegie Hall.
Unquestionably, the clarinet quintets of Mozart and Brahms have earned time-honored and well-deserved places in the repertoire of clarinetists worldwide. In the informative and well-written annotations by Eric Hoeprich, we read that “they embody the maturity, depth, experience, and possibly even a premonition of an otherworldliness soon to be experienced firsthand.”
Issued without accompanying notes, we are asked to take it on faith that these recordings made by Otmar Suitner with the Dresden Staatskapelle are in fact legendary. But while most of the performances here have not been released on compact discs, that does not necessarily make them legendary; it only makes them rare.
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.
MOZART 111 combines the best of the Austrian master's music with the best of Deutsche Grammophon's Mozart recordings, bringing together a total of 111 works, while retaining, as far as possible, the original album releases with their cover art. There's enough of everything here to stock a shop, as they say, in performances that have stood the test of time and performances that make you sit up and listen to Mozart afresh the perfect way to discover, rediscover and savor the incomparable genius of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
Because Mozart's earliest symphonies are performed less often than the later masterpieces and are consequently underrepresented on disc, Nikolaus Harnoncourt's period performances with Concentus Musicus Wien may have an added value beyond sheer musical excellence. Much has been written about how these works are miraculous manifestations of the young Mozart's genius, and their consistently high quality obviates criticism for their few shortcomings. But these symphonies really do sound magical and even startling in Harnoncourt's vital renditions, and Concentus Musicus delivers them with boisterous enthusiasm and full bow, with absolutely no precious Rococo affectations. Brisk tempi, tight ensemble playing and the clear timbres of original instruments contribute to the authenticity of the performances, but these may count less than the gusto, humor, and freshness that the musicians display in each work. The woodwinds and horns are especially robust and earthy, and Harnoncourt draws out their distinctive colors and striking rhythms to contrast them more effectively with the strings. Deutsche Harmonia Mundi's sound is immaculate, without doubt the best the label can offer, and the acoustics of Kasino Zögernitz are ideal for balance and resonance.(Blair Sanderson)
A smart concept smartly executed, this disc called Heifetz: Double Concertos features the great violinist dueting with three different string soloists in three different concerts from three different periods. How well it works is a matter of taste. In all three works, Heifetz lives up to his reputation for brilliance: slashing in Bach's Concerto for two violins in D minor, elegant in Mozart's Sinfonia concertante for violin and viola in E flat, and sternly passionate in Brahms' Double for violin and cello in A minor.
Set in the exotic seraglio of the Pasha Selim, the story revolves around the rescue of the lovely Constanze by her lover Belmonte – a tale of love, bravery and forgiveness. In this work, Mozart breaks new ground in introducing dramatically rounded characters with recognisably human feelings and weaknesses. The work influenced and changed the nature of opera throughout Europe. This charming production from Drottningholm does full justice to Mozart’s score. Arnold Östman’s deliberate conducting combined with Carl Friedrich Oberle’s design demonstrates that this really is “an eternal masterpiece of music drama by a youthful, exuberant composer who suddenly found his individual voice and style in the field of opera with this particular work” (Opera now)
Die Zauberflöte is the artistic and philosophical testament of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who died a few weeks after the work’s première in Vienna. Intertwining music of awesome purity and beauty with the conventions of the singspiel - a popular form of musical comedy – Mozart’s final operatic legacy to the world explores Man’s search for the truth and his confusion between the forces of dark and light and the final utopian resolution of seemingly irreconcilable elements. Because of the opera’s relationship to freemasonry, commentators have identified Tamino with the Emperor Joseph II, Pamina with the Austrian people, Sarastro with Ignaz von Born, Monostatos with the clergy and the Queen of the Night with the Empress Maria Theresa. Whichever level one approaches Die Zauberflöte on, it remains a great work in the spirit of the Enlightenment as well as a delightful fairy-tale. Nothing is so simple as to be absolutely clear-cut. In life, the serious and the comic often intermingle in a way that is disconcerting. In Die Zauberflöte, Mozart succeeds in combining these two elements in a way which has never been surpassed. The light and vibrant presentation of the Scandinavian cast - internationally renowned bass Lászlo Polgár is the only non-Scandinavian soloists – the authentic staging and the lean orchestra sound conducted by the illustrious Arnold Östman makes this performance definitely one of the best Zauberflöte-performances of the 20th century.