The late Mstislav Rostropovich and Seiji Ozawa deliver probably the greatest digital recording of the Dvorak concerto. For those familiar with the analog Karajan/Rostropovich recording, this digital recording finds the soloist creating a similar impression married with a more supportive Ozawa and the Boston Symphony. Karajan's creamy string sound and often overly-dramatic stylization is replaced here by Ozawa's stricter approach; his handling of the orchestra is masterful in this taught, precise reading. The legendary Boston Symphony responds resplendently and, although they may not highlight the rustic Czech idiom of this music, they certainly bring much charm, warmth, and expected musicality to the accompaniment. But enough about the orchestra - on to Rostropovich.
Das war ein Abend, wie Opernfreunde ihn lieben: Tschaikowskis »Pique Dame«, ein Werk des Repertoires und doch selten gespielt, ein Ensemble nicht nur berühmter Namen, sondern großer Singschauspieler, dazu ein Dirigent der Sonderklasse – eine Aufführung, wie sie auch an einem Haus wie der Wiener Staatsoper nicht zum »Alltag« gehört. Der Erfolg der Aufführung, der Jubel waren gleichsam vorprogrammiert. Zumal die Wiener Staatsoper ihrem Publikum noch eine ganz besondere Attraktion anzubieten hatte: Im Mittelpunkt des Abends und schier endloser Ovationen stand eine der großen Heroinen der Opernbühne, Martha Mödl, die hier in den Fünfziger- und Sechzigerjahren des Jahrhunderts als Leonore in Beethovens »Fidelio«, als Isolde und Brünnhilde, aber auch in so manchen Partien des dramatischen Mezzofachs Triumphe gefeiert hatte.
This is playing in the grand manner… Ozawa and the orchestra are behind the soloist in all this and the deciso element is fully realized. But don't let me imply a lack of finesse; not only do lyrical sections sing with subtlety, the big passages also are shapely… In the gorgeously grisly Totentanz, both music and playing should make your hair stand on end. - C.H.; Gramophone
Seiji Ozawa is recognized as one of the supreme Gershwin conductors. Multi award winning blind pianist Marcus Roberts is known as one of the foremostpianists of contemporary jazz. Roland Guerin is not only an instructor for Applied Jazz Bass at the University of NewOrleans, he also toured extensively with Jazz greats such as Gerry Mulligan, George Benson and Jimmy Scott, and he made recordings with Ellis Marsalis and Allen Toussaint among others. Drummer Jason Marsalis is the son of pianist Ellis Marsalis and the youngest brother of Wynton, Branford and Delfeayo. Together, the four brothers and their father Ellis comprise New Orleans' venerable first family of jazz.
Yundi Li goes from strength to strength. Deeply thoughtful and formidably virtuosic, he makes light work of Prokofiev’s nightmarish technical demands. This is a really superb disc. As for Seiji Ozawa, he comes in for some bad press these days but here he is a quite wonderful accompanist, coaxing haunting, unforgettable sounds from the Berlin Phil.
According to classical music specialists, a good performance of Scheherazade requires a top notch orchestra, great conducting, and outstanding individual performance, as well as timing since there is a definite storyline to follow. Flaws on any orchestral department, will be "merciless exposed" along the score. The Chicago Symphony, to many, the most european sounding of all american orchestras, meets all these requirements, as does Ozawa, who knows this score well. It was my first recording of the work and I always go back to it, since has a perfectly well chosen tempo, the solo violin is sweet and umpretentious, and the sound although not as dramatic as others, offers a very "symphonic" account, which always satisfies. The coupling of Borodin is more than adequate and great music too.
A rewarding release… As to the Mandarin, first impressions suggest a gloved fist on Ozawa's part and a general softening of attack since [his earlier DG recording from] 1975… Ozawa is strong on sensuality - those all-pervading glissandos, the seduction games and the languidly teasing sequences that lead to the chase… As to the Concerto for Orchestra…the Bostonians' Bartókian pedigree - it was, after all, Koussevitzky who commissioned the work — guarantees a certain élan and refinement… Ozawa is best where the going gets frantic (his finale is terrific, especially at the outset, and he plays Bartok's more concise original ending)… Ozawa's virtues are intelligence, alertness and a fine ear for detail… (Gramophone [8/1995] reviewing the Bartók recordings, originally released as Philips 442783)
This is the simply a slpendid recording- well paced, energetic and in excellent sound. I have a suspicion that many people drawn to these works pay undo emphasis on the choir [or they are choir singers] and understandably get frustrating when the choir is not front and center in the musical proceedings. But what Poulenc wrote here does not emphasize the choir [he was a master instrumentalist after all!] so the orchestra should be more prominent at times. Ragardless, this is a great performance!