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.
In memoriam Maestro Maazel, Sony Classical re-releases the ‘Maazel Great Recordings’ 30-CD Box to honour his great work.
Lorin Varencove Maazel was born of American parents in Neuilly, France on March 6, 1930 and the family returned to Los Angeles when Lorin was still an infant. He exhibited a remarkable ear and musical memory when very young; he had perfect pitch and sang back what he heard. He was taken at age five to study violin with Karl Moldrem. At age seven he started studying piano with Fanchon Armitage. When he became fascinated with conducting, his parents took him to symphony concerts, then arranged for him to have lessons with Vladimir Bakaleinikov, then assistant conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
Burnished brass and a nuanced understanding of the massive architecture of Bruckner's symphonies provided the underpinnings of Lorin Maazel's Bruckner cycle in Munich from January through March 1999. The subtle intricacies of Maazel's distinguished readings are fully captured in the live recordings of those performances, now available as a boxed set.
"Between 1972 and 1982 Maazel was Music Director of The Cleveland Orchestra and between 1973-79 made a series of recordings for Decca – all of which are collected here.
The repertory includes many orchestral spectaculars and Decca’s first recording in Cleveland, Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet, is one of the very best and a recording which has achieved reference status. “…. The precision of The Cleveland Orchestra is little short of miraculous… the recording is one of Decca’s most spectacular, searingly detailed but atmospheric too.”
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.
Maazel's performances appear not only on audio recordings but on film - he was the conductor for film versions of Don Giovanni (Joseph Losey's award-winning adaptation, mentioned below), Carmen and Franco Zeffirelli's interpretation of Otello.
Although primarily known as a conductor, Maazel was no stranger to composition himself, arranging material from Wagner's Ring Cycle into a 75-minute suite, The Ring Without Words, and composing an opera based on George Orwell's dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four; and as if this were not enough, he was also an accomplished violinist (see below for a recording of his performance of Vivaldi's Four Seasons)…
To be sure, there are some great performances in this 10-disc set, André Previn: The Great Recordings. Previn's insouciant wit is evident in his effervescent reading of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, and there is deep affection in his sensuous account of highlights from Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet. His explosive rendering of Orff's Carmina Burana has barbaric splendor, and there is thrilling excitement in his orgasmic interpretation of Rachmaninov's Second Symphony. But it can't be denied that Previn's superficial readings of Holst's The Planets and Debussy's Images are little more than musical travelogs, and that his dreary accounts of Shostakovich's Eighth and Elgar's Enigma Variations are musty musical picture galleries. His extravagantly colorful renderings of Messiaen's Turangalîla Symphony and Walton's Belshazzar's Feast come across as lurid musical history lessons.
With this recording Argentine-Swiss cellist Sol Gabetta completes her pair of Shostakovich's cello concertos, recorded in reverse order. Perhaps she has simply been aware of Shostakovich's still growing popularity, or perhaps she felt it was a unique challenge to apply her somewhat impetuous style to Shostakovich, who could certainly be called sober and perhaps even dour.
Raimondi has advantages: the dark coloring of his voice, the vocal menace, the power of his bass." The three ladies - especially the Te Kanawa has become livelier, more insistent - Maazel has the singers and Mozart firmly in hand.– Hermes Lexikon