Almost any recording of a Mozart symphony by Austrian conductor Karl Bohm (1894-1981) is a sure thing: excellent sound, and sensible, solid, non-sentimental interpretation.
The films in this DVD were made in the 1970s: both picture and sound are excellent. Bohm is an easy conductor to watch, and his conducting style does not distract or call attention to him over the musicians or the music. Indeed, Bohm SERVES Mozart, and watching him conduct the great Vienna Philharmonic is a joy from beginning to end.
Hundreds of years before the birth of Christ, a collection of love songs grew up. Under the title of the “Most beautiful of songs”, they found a home in the Old Testament-it was Martin Luther who first gave them the name of “Song of songs”-and since that time they have inspired and fascinated a vast number of theologians, mystics, philosophers, poets, painters, and, last but not least, composers. Particularly during the Baroque period, these poetic, sensual, vividly descriptive texts were set over and over again to music, and they inspired librettists to expand on the original texts.
This luxuriously cast film of Mozart's beloved opera buffa features a host of legendary interpretations, including Kiri Te Kanawa's exquisite Countess Almaviva, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau as her philandering husband, Hermann Prey as the wily title character, Mirella Freni, a delight as his no less savvy bride Susanna, and Maria Ewing, hilarious as the lovesick page Cherubino. Director Jean-Pierre Ponnelle's imaginative camera-work tellingly emphasizes character and mood in this immortal story of love, intrigue and class struggle, set against the historical background of ancien regime Europe sliding inexorably towards revolution.
Götz Friedrich’s 1981 Elektra film sets Richard Strauss’ opera in a dark and dingy abandoned 20th-century factory populated by grungy denizens in psuedo-Greek garb. Elektra herself appears like some deranged homeless woman reeking with sweat and slime (in the rain). And the depravity doesn’t stop there. Friedrich plays up the work’s sado-masochistic elements, with bloody whippings and an orgy sequence involving nude lesbians bathing themselves in the blood of a sacrificial ram. Now you might think that all of this detracts from the score, but on the contrary, the production matches image to music so brilliantly that anyone seeing this opera for the first time would think they were created for each other (which allows you to ignore the occasional useless, almost silly gesture, such as the frequent and prolonged shots of Agamemnon’s bloodied visage during Elektra’s opening monologue).
To celebrate the 200th anniversary of Beethoven's birth in 1970, German television took Fidelio into the studio and filmed the Deutsche Oper Berlin's production of the composer's only opera. Karl Böhm, well-known as a master conductor of this opera, leads an astonishing performance which emphasizes orchestral clarity and emotional depth. The conductor leads a strong cast headed by the glorious Gwyneth Jones and powerful James King in the starring roles. First time on DVD! "Gwyneth Jones sang a passionate Leonore…James King was a Florestan on the summit of his vocal expression." (Berliner Morgenpost)
Karl Böhm had a profound, sincere, and abiding love for Mozart's music, and his recordings set new performance standards for these immortal masterpieces. Here his delightful interpretation of three ravishing symphonies and the enchanting Serenata notturna, plus a documentary portrait of this great conductor.
There is a transparency in the creative encounter between guitarist Norbert Scholly and pianist Rainer Böhm that shines through Juvenile, their Pirouet Records debut. Sophisticated and exciting, the music flows with a clarity, and natural spontaneity. Scholly and Böhm play jazz that scintillates with alluring melodies, brilliant harmonies, and a rhythmic concept that is in-the-pocket and in between the cracks - compositions that have the feel of the finest chamber music.