PROKOFIEV: Violin Concerto No. 1 in D, Op. 19. (BBC Symphony
Orch/Gennadi Rozhdestvensky). ELGAR: Violin Concerto in B minor, Op.
61. (BBC Symphony
Orch/Gennadi Rozhdestvensky, cond.). SAINT-SAËNS: Introduction and
Rondo Capriccioso, Op. 28. (Sadler's Wells Orch/Charles Mackerras, cond.).
CHRISTA LUDWIG (Lieder of Brahms and Mahler). GUNDULA JANOWITZ
(Beethoven: Ah! perfido). IRMGARD SEEFRIED (Egk: Quatro Canzoni). GALINA
(Lieder of Tchaikovsky). GRÉ BROWENSTIJN (Music of Wagner). RITA
STREICH (Lieder of Schumann, Strauss, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Schubert, Wolf,
BACH: Concerto in D after Vivaldi. Adagio from Toccata and Fugue
in C. Allegro from Brandenburg Concerto No. 3. Excerpts from Easter
Sinfonia from Partita No. 2 in C minor. Chorale "Ich ruf zu dir, Herr
Jesu Christ." Suite from Orchestral Overtures. Chorale "Jesus bleibet
meine Freude." Toccata and Fugue in D minor.
A 25-year old Itzhak Perlman can be seen in a remarkable performance of Saint-Saëns' Introduction & Rondo Capriccioso recorded at a BBC Gala Performance at the London Coliseum Theatre October 25, 1970. Ten years later, he returned October 22 to participate in the BBC Symphony Orchestra's 50th Anniversary Concert (with conductor Gennadi Rozhdestvensky) to play Prokofiev's Concerto No. 1 (presumably in Royal Festival Hall), and August 9, 1981 he returned for a Proms Concert in Royal Albert Hall to play Elgar's Concerto. It's a privilege to watch Perlman work his usual magic. Video is basic, audio surprisingly is mono, but well-balanced. It seems no special microphone was used for Perlman, so we hear a very natural concert hall balance.
Medici Arts has given their DVD the rather grandiose title of Great Voices of the Golden Age; more properly it should have been labeled Six Great Soprano Voices of the Golden Age, which it indeed is. All of the sopranos were in their prime. Christa Ludwig was recorded in 1962 with pianist Gerald Moore, Gundula Janowitz in 1965 in Paris with Alain Lombard conducting, and Irmgard Seefried in 1967 singing the rarely heard Egk Italian Songs which gives us the opportunity to observe veteran conductor Manuel Rosenthal. The delightful coloratura soprano Rita Streich, pictured on the DVD's cover, is seen in leider of seven composers from telecasts in 1964, 1965 and 1972, and the great Dutch soprano Gré Browenstijn sings 2 of the Wesendonck Lieder and the Liebestod from a 1969 broadcast conducted by Charles Bruck. Galina Vishnevskaya gives impassioned performances of two songs of Tchaikovsky from a 1970 telecast with her husband, Mstislav Rostropovich, at the piano—not Janine Reiss, as listed in the DVD booklet. Vocal collectors surely will wish to investigate this fine release. What other treasures are lurking in the French TV archives?
German Brass was founded in 1974 as a quintet, later expanded to ten players, all members of major German orchestras or professors of music. There are four trumpets, three trombones, two horns, and tuba. On this DVD we hear a concert of music of Bach transcribed for various brass combinations. Hornist Wolfgang Gaag write the DVD notes and tells of the challenge the ensemble had: to perform a concert commemorating the 250th anniversary of Bach's death in "his" church, at his very grave, before a Leipzig audience that knew the master's music well. The concert was given in St. Thomas's Church in Leipzig May 6,2000, and is seen on this DVD. Video is of the highest quality, as is audio. The playing is often quite phenomenal—just sample the Badinerie from the Suite No. 2 (you can see it on YouTube in much lesser quality). The only negative feature of this release is its relatively brief playing time (one hour). Surely the concert contained other music—why isn't at least some of it here?
R.E.B. (January 2009)