Elgar's two symphonies are good example of interpretations of music being stuck thanks to the strange British conservatism. If you listen to 10 recordings of these symphonies by 10 British conductors, they all sound more or less same in terms of interpretation: controlled, noble, beautiful Elgarian rubato and so on.
Judging simply by timings, Mintz and Sinopoli seem to have decided on a middle path in their approach to the first movement of this concerto: they take nearly a minute less over it than Mutter and Karajan (also on DG), about a minute and a half more than Perlman and Giulini on EMI. Using ears rather than a stopwatch, however, they seem to be giving by far the slowest performance of the movement that I have heard in years. It is a reading from which anything which might savour of soloistic display has been expunged, in which no note, even one of a flourish of semiquavers, is allowed to be 'merely' decorative. Mutter is fond of polishing every note like a jewel, too, but the very opening of the concerto in hers and Karajan's reading sounds positively sprightly set beside the newcomer. The moment Mutter enters the speed slackens markedly, but Karajan watchfully assures that the pulse returns with each tutti, and a sense of momentum is present throughout, even during the soloist's most wayward rhapsodizings.
This famous production of Manon Lescaut from The Royal Opera, recorded in 1983, features two of the biggest stars in opera, Placido Domingo and Kiri Te Kanawa, in their vocal prime. Placido Domingo’s performance of Des Grieux is considered to be unsurpassed. Conductor Guiseppe Sinopoli made his British operatic debut with this production. Puccini’s first masterpiece was rapturously received on its first night. It has his hallmark sensuality and also a youthful freshness, its untamed outpouring of melody just as passionate as his more famous operas, La Boheme, Tosca and Madame Butterfly. The role of Des Grieux is one of the most taxing in the tenor repertoire and Domingo’s passionate portrayal is one of his greatest achievements.
Sinopoli interpretations of these two Strauss tone poems are magnificent and are recorded with clarity. What I find most impressive is the way Sinopoli approaches a score as if it were a brand-new document waiting to be brought to life. - Gramophone
Mining the archive uncovers this treasurable performance.
"Glorious" and "sublime" were among the epithets applied to the playing of Dresden's "Royal Chapel" ensemble when Mahler's Fourth Symphony was first performed in the city in 1908. Both epithets could be applied to the playing on this latter-day realisation under Giuseppe Sinopoli. Richard Osborne, August 2008 GRAMOPHONE