This compilation covers 20 years of live recordings made by conductor Yevgeny Mravinsky and the then-named Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra for Erato. Mravinsky led that orchestra for nearly 50 years, from 1938 until his death. His last recording was that of Shostakovich's Symphony No. 12, made in 1984, found on Disc 3 here. His interpretations of Shostakovich and Tchaikovsky were highly regarded, so it's not surprising that several of their symphonies are here. There are also symphonies by Mozart and Beethoven in this set; tone poems by Tchaikovsky and Mussorgsky; and orchestral excerpts from operas by Wagner, Glinka, and Glazunov. The final disc contains a rare recording of a rehearsal led by Mravinsky, something few outsiders were ever allowed to witness. Even though he was an elder statesman of Russian music at the time of these recordings, there is still precision and energy in his interpretations.
Few new pieces of music in the 20th century have received the kind of celebrity accorded the Shostakovich Symphony No. 7 when it arrived in America. At a time when Russia was seen in a somewhat friendly light by the allied nations, this supposed depiction of the siege of Leningrad was seized upon by the press as a vital cog in the war effort. The composer, clad in military fireman's garb, graced the cover of Time magazine, and Toscanini and Stokowski fought tooth and nail to get the premiere American performance. (Toscanini got his hands on the manuscript first, and Stokowski gave the second performance a few days later.) Here is a Soviet studio recording from the 1950s by Evgeny Mravinsky, the conductor most closely associated with Shostakovich during his lifetime. It is a strong performance with plenty of impact and the Leningrad Philharmonic in good form, and while live Mravinsky versions of several of the symphonies exist in abundance, there are none of the Seventh, making this disc especially valuable.
Great performances of this massive symphony aren’t exactly thick on the field, but my goodness, this is one of them. Vasily Petrenko and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic play with 100 percent commitment in every single bar. The first movement opens broadly, the intensity already palpable. Taking full advantage of excellent sound and a wide dynamic range (crank up the volume for this one), the central march and battle will have you sweating in your seat. The unrelentingly sustained passion that Petrenko brings to this long section triumphantly vindicates Shostakovich’s controversial vision, and at the same time makes short work of a 28-minute overall timing.
A logical, albeit rare combination of works, presented by the Politburo to reflect victory and an irresistible force – understandably in the case of Op.100 (1950); but unjustifiably in the case of Op.111 (1945-7), the ‘two-headed symphony’ which had the misfortune to displease Stalin, who hade xpected an ode to his glory. Mravinsky seldom performed these symphonies but has left for posterity a few ardent concert recordings.
One of my favorite albums. I have never heard a better performance of the two songs, and the aria from Jeanne D'Arc is absolutely flawless, makes one wonder why the opera itself is not more popular. This electric performance of the Rococo Variations is the best I've heard by Yo-Yo Ma or any other performer for that matter. Itzhak Perlman shines with glorious legato in the Serenade Melancolique. Tchaikovsky would have been proud of this tribute. The disc implies that is a soundtrack for a film of the concert yet I have been unable to find more information about it. Highly recommended!
In 2014 Deutsche Grammophon celebrated the 20th anniversary of its flagship series, The Originals, with a limited edition collection featuring some of the labels greatest albums.
This second volume concludes the labels survey of its iconic series by presenting more legendary analogue albums. Including key recordings such as Beethovens Late Sonatas with Pollini, Berliozs Symphonie Fantastique with Markevitch, Brahmss Hungarian Dances with Karajan, Dvoraks New World with Fricsay, Chopin Preludes with Argerich…