Conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler already enjoyed a worldwide legendary standing during his lifetime he was considered the German conductor and performances were greeted with rapturous applause. Today, more than 50 years after his death, Wilhelm Furtwängler is still an icon and his work has become an integral part of the music scene.
The opening evening of Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen, Das Rheingold is the prologue of the cycle, which is followed in turn by the music dramas Die Walküre, Siegfried, and Götterdämmerung. The first instalment in Jaap van Zweden's projected Ring with the Hong Kong Philharmonic – an undertaking he regards as central to his tenure with the orchestra – is a promising beginning that may surprise many experienced Wagnerians. Van Zweden is ambitious in presenting the Ring with this orchestra, which plays it for the first time, though in fairness to the musicians, they offer an intensity and vigor that more than makes up for any minor scrappiness.
"…Janowski's pacing and preparation of the orchestra is masterly. Reacting with sensitivity to the score, the tender & reflective scenes are given space to breathe without taxing the singers into strained tone. (…) The more one hears, the more one appreciates the vocal acting as well as the superlative orchestral contribution (make no mistake, there are at least 3 world class orchestras resident in Berlin today). This listener (at least) is eagerly awaiting the next installment of the Ring." ~sa-cd.net
…If you haven’t heard this music, let’s just say that Zelenka wrote some of the most enjoyable and colorful music of the Baroque era, and he is supremely well served by CPO’s engineers, conductor Sonnentheil, and his New-Eröffnete Orchestre.
You will probably be as incredulous as I was to learn that the greatest cycle of Mahler symphonies comes not from any of the usual suspects - Abbado, Bernstein, Chially, Haitink, Kubelik, Rattle, Sinopoli, Solti, Tennstedt - but from the unsung Gary Bertini, who spent the better part of his career as music director of the Cologne Radio Symphony Orchestra. Unlike any of those more publicized sets, each of which includes a misfire or two, Bertini is consistently successful from first to last; his performance of each of these works can stand comparison with the very best available.