Maurizo Pollini, the great concert pianist from Milan, is shown in fine form throughout this 13 CD box set "edition" of his previously released recordings on the Deutsche Gramophone label ( celebrating his 30th year with DG ). The performances were selected by the artist himself and so retain a merit absent in some other types of repackaging "schemes".
Maurizio Pollini's late 1970s film recordings of Beethoven Piano Concertos 3 and 5; Mozart Piano Concertos 19 and 23; and Brahms Piano Concerto 2 have it all: great pianism, beautiful playing by the Vienna Philharmonic, magnificent conducting by Karl Bohm (Beethoven, Mozart) and Claudio Abbado (Brahms), all adding up to one thing: a beautiful experience. These DVDs are a feast for the ears: great audio, and the eyes: great video. The 1970s Unitel films used in this DG release have held up very well in the vaults: there are no glitches or imperfections in the picture. The camera work is also excellent, and serves the music being performed.
There is no audience, and the recording venue: Vienna's Musikvereien, has wonderful acoustics - one of the best concert halls in the civilized world. It was worth alot to me to see Karl Bohm smile at Maurizio Pollini at the beginning of I, of Mozart's Piano Concerto 19 with it's humorous, scherzo like theme which begins the concerto. Highly recommended!
Among the major choral-orchestral works of the 19th century, Sir Roger Norrington and his former Orchestra, the Radio-Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart des SWR, have tackled over the years, now finally comes Brahms' "German Requiem." one of the most beautiful and popular sacred music works in the repertoire. Brahms’ contemporaries, including his close friend Clara Schumann were moved with the score and were enthusiastic about it - and it has been a favorite with the general public ever since. Although Biblical texts are used, the piece is not in the standard church-liturgical tradition. It was Brahms‘personal response to "those who mourn"! The central idea of this masterpiece is the reality of human existence. It is precisely this „earthly character“ that Roger Norrington uses to shape his interpretation emphasizing the grave beautify of the music and not religious awe; in this, Norrington draws us close to the composer’s intentions. He is ably supported by soprano soloist Christina Landshamer, basso Florian Boesch, SWR Vokalensemble Stuttgart and the NDR.
Brahms’s two sonatas for clarinet and piano, Op 120, composed in 1894, were followed only by the four Serious Songs and a set of organ chorale preludes (some of which may have been written at earlier times). His farewell to chamber music was also his farewell gift to the clarinet. The two works recorded here were preceded by the Clarinet Trio in A minor (Op 114) and the great Clarinet Quintet in B minor (Op 115), and all four masterpieces were inspired by the playing of Richard Mühlfeld, principal clarinettist of the Meiningen Orchestra.
The old model for creating a hit classical recording – big-name soloist plus big-name conductor in major repertory work – is not so common anymore, but this live Brahms recording from the Staatskapelle Berlin under Venezuela's Gustavo Dudamel, with Argentine-Israeli-Palestinian-Spanish pianist Daniel Barenboim as soloist, shows that there's life in the concept yet. One could point to the virtues of pianist and conductor separately: it's a rare septuagenarian who can combine power and clear articulation of detail the way Barenboim does, and Dudamel builds a vast sweep in, especially, the Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor, Op. 15. But it's the way that the two work together that really makes news. Chalk it up to shared South American heritage or to whatever the listener wants, but the way the orchestra and piano define separate spheres and work them together is extraordinary. Again, it is in the Piano Concerto No. 1 and its Beethovenian drama that their mutual understanding is most evident, but there is a sense of great variety powerfully unified throughout.
The two works included in this album are among the most unlikely of recording combinations, but here they are, under the baton of Claudio Abbado and the BPO, collaborating with Abbado's bosom friend Pollini.