“A performance simply crackling with excitement from the Wiener Staatsoper in 1978, conducted by Leonard Bernstein and featuring sublime performances from Gundula Janowitz as Leonore, René Kollo as Florestan, and Lucia Popp as Marzelline. The celebrated quartet, Mir ist so wunderbar, is nothing short of exquisite.” (James Longstaffe, Presto Classical)
"Symphony No.2 gets a performance of tremendous power and energy … The Vienna Seventh never lets us forget the Bacchanalian symbolism of a work its creator claimed would make mankind spiritually drunken! Bernstein makes it so." - ClassicsToday.com
In the mid 1980s, Unitel began recording a complete cycle of Sibelius symphonies with Leonard Bernstein and the Vienna Philharmonic. Bernstein’s death in 1990 unfortunately cut short this project after the release of Symphonies Nos. 1, 2, 5 and 7. Recorded live at Vienna’s Musikverein, these ecstatic performances were the object of stellar reviews.
Shostakovich’s Tenth Symphony is 50 minutes of tragedy, despair, terror, and violence and three minutes of triumph. Premiered in 1953, the best performance is still that conducted by Mravinsky. Yevgeny Mravinsky's June 3, 1955, performance with the Leningrad Philharmonic of Beethoven's Symphony No. 4 is just as great. Mravinsky was the best Soviet conductor and his passionate precision and intense interpretations were as valid for Beethoven as they were for Shostakovich. His interpretations can be hard-driven and sharp-edged, but no one could object to the lucid strength and linear lyricism he brings to the work.
"Bernstein stamps his outsize personality on every bar and regularly has you convinced it is Mahler's own" (Gramophone). Beginning with the First Symphony, Bernstein reveals Mahler's position at the hinge of modernism, while emphasizing his emotional extremism. The uplifting Second "Resurrection" Symphony, with which Bernstein had an especially long and close association, is recorded here in a historic performance from 1973, set in the Romanesque splendour of Ely Cathedral. In the Third, Bernstein encompasses the symphony's spiritual panorama like no other conductor - with the Vienna Philharmonic players alive to every nuance.
As recommendable an album as anyone could wish, Carlos Kleiber's performances with the Vienna Philharmonic of Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67, and the Symphony No. 7 in A major, Op. 92, are classics that should always be within reach, and this disc should be passed along to friends as the single best pairing of these two pieces. Other performances of these symphonies are absolutely essential to know, and recordings by many great conductors and orchestras certainly compete with this Deutsche Grammophon album for listeners' affections. But for sheer excitement, cogent direction, and expressive playing, none is more convincing. Kleiber was highly esteemed for his thorough musicianship, and his clarity of interpretation and communication skills with musicians resulted in performances that were compelling in their power and fascinating for their faithfulness to details in the score.
Released in 2003, Allegretto from Symphony No. 7, Theme and Variations features pianist Loussier in a trifecta alongside bassist Ben Dunoyer de Segonzac and drummer André Arpino interpreting ten variations on the Allegretto portion of Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 7. For those unfamiliar, the term Allegretto (translated as "rather fast") refers to the composition's tempo, encompassing a speed of less than 120 but exceeding 108 measures per minute. As he had done in prior outings that incorporated the respective works of Bach, Debussy, and Handel, among others, Loussier approaches the composition with an ear toward the third stream, blending classical pieces to a decidedly jazz orientation.
This DVD is a fascinating document of a great conductor and orchestra playing two of the most underrated of Shostakovich's symphonies in 1985 and 1986 concerts in Vienna's Musikverein. In his spoken preface to the Sixth Symphony, Bernstein says he wants to "right a wrong"–the "wrong" being the work's reputation as unstructured lightweight piece. The Haydnesque Ninth, despite idiosyncratically slow tempos is light and humorous, its sardonic touches here relished by Bernstein.
The Vienna Philharmonic isn't the ideal band for Shostakovich but Bernstein makes them play beyond their natural inclinations; here they lack only a bit more vulgarity in the brass and percussion to be fully idiomatic. The net result is a pair of deeply felt, emotionally powerful performances. Extras include Bernstein's cogent spoken prefaces to the works.