"Between 1972 and 1982 Maazel was Music Director of The Cleveland Orchestra and between 1973-79 made a series of recordings for Decca – all of which are collected here.
The repertory includes many orchestral spectaculars and Decca’s first recording in Cleveland, Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet, is one of the very best and a recording which has achieved reference status. “…. The precision of The Cleveland Orchestra is little short of miraculous… the recording is one of Decca’s most spectacular, searingly detailed but atmospheric too.”
Lorin Maazel's early recordings are the ones collected here and they are his finest work. Maazel was always a gifted conductor but as he aged he had a tendency to slow his tempi substantially, which I find conveys a somewhat diffuse and unfocused quality to his interpretations. His early work, however, is incisive, dramatic, beautifully articulated and well-textured. He extracts wonderful performances from his orchestras, with a special ability to make woodwinds and strings combine to magical effect.
Maazel's performances appear not only on audio recordings but on film - he was the conductor for film versions of Don Giovanni (Joseph Losey's award-winning adaptation, mentioned below), Carmen and Franco Zeffirelli's interpretation of Otello.
Although primarily known as a conductor, Maazel was no stranger to composition himself, arranging material from Wagner's Ring Cycle into a 75-minute suite, The Ring Without Words, and composing an opera based on George Orwell's dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four; and as if this were not enough, he was also an accomplished violinist (see below for a recording of his performance of Vivaldi's Four Seasons)…
Filmed on location in picturesque Vicenza, Italy, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s operatic masterpiece Don Giovanni is beautifully translated to film by director Joseph Losey (The Servant) and Mozart’s incomparable music is performed by the legendary Paris opera, conducted by Lorin Maazel. Set in Seville in the 1600s, a young nobleman Don Giovanni (Ruggero Raimondi) is well-known philanderer with a long list of amorous conquests.
The cast in this performance, recorded live on November 18, 2004, is as excellent as the names would indicate: Patrizia Ciofi, Roberto Saccà and Dmitri Hvorostovsky.
Hvorostovsky, who has been singing Germont since 2002, continues to surpass himself in this role every time one hears him. Though difficult to imagine Hvorostovsky as an elder man, he nonetheless gives credence to the role of Germont through his straightforward, yet elegant style of singing and acting. Hvorostvsky’s subtle coloring of his voice, his innate sense of drama and musicianship give him the edge over any other baritone available–be he younger or older. In Act II, when Germont confronts Violetta, Hvorostovsky is vocally stern without being offensive to his son’s mistress, and later in the scene when Germont lets his guard down, the singer is able to project a comforting fatherly image to the woman who is “the ruin” of Alfredo and his family… Daniel Pardo
Praised by Bloomberg for having “mastered the role” and “acting her socks off,” Angela Gheorghiu leads an all-star cast which includes Ramón Vargas and Roberto Frontali, with the brilliant conductor Lorin Maazel on the podium. Angela Gheorghiu is the definitive Violetta of her generation, the standard-setter against whom all other exponents of this role must be judged for the foreseeable future. Her affinity for Verdi‘s fragile, gentle-hearted courtesan is rooted in a fine balance of acting and singing skills. Giuseppe Verdi´s immortal opera in a sumptuous production by Liliana Cavani, with world famous singers – a treat for viewers everywhere!
This is Angela Gheorghiu's second video of La traviata. The first was filmed in Royal Opera House in December 1994, the soprano's first performance of Violetta, and featured Sir Georg Solti on the podium (REVIEW). The new one is from performances in the summer of 2007 at La Scala, a revival of Liliana Cavani's 1990 production with lavish sets by Dante Ferretti. Unquestionably, Gheorghiu is among today's leading interpreters of the role of Violetta, vocally and dramatically…
Jack Renner and Robert Woods dared to aim high, think big and take risks. In 1977, they had the audacity – and the funding – to hire the Cleveland Orchestra and music director Lorin Maazel to launch their company, TELARC Records. Their debut album, Direct from Cleveland, was the first modern-day direct-to-disc long-play recording of a symphonic ensemble, and it put the small company on the audiophile map.(Simeon Louis Sandiford, SoundStage!2Network)