This 4-CD boxed set presents historic recordings of works by Arnold Schoenberg, the founding father of 20th-century modern music, and his most prominent pupils, Alban Berg and Anton Webern.
Richard Wagner, the most controversial figure the arts have ever seen, whose music can move and overwhelm like no other, continues to divide the spirits even today. The year 2013, when we celebrate the 200th anniversary of his birth, is inevitably going to be devoted to the man and his work.
The Complete Wagner Operas offers the best of Deutsche Grammophon, two operas each from Decca and the BBC and EMIs Rienzi.
This bizarre film by one of the most original directors now working in Germany is hermetic, expressionist, oblique, and of a creative perversity that bespeaks the presence of a genius. Purporting to deal with a real-life 19th century diva 'whose popularity was such that over-exertion led to her death while singing,' the film is actually a grisly series of frozen or tortured tableaux (predominantly lesbian in implication) of heavily rouged, frequently ugly women who, pretending to sing heavy opera, go through contorted, icy attempts at communication that lead nowhere. The lip-sync is off; the singing is off-pitch; mouths are frequently open while no sound issues forth, or closed, with mellifluous arias or cheap popular songs heard on scratchy renditions of old records.
Perahia’s immaculate technique, stylistic surety, and classical symmetry are remarkably consistent. While his tone is always singing and rounded, lyrical melodies and decorative passages alike convey a slight diamond-like edge to the peak of crescendos or an emphatic accent. This helps achieve an attractive fusion of unruffled poise and dramatic tension. You hear this quite readily in the B-flat K. 456 concerto ‘s first movement, or in the carefully pedaled trills and restatement of the main theme in K. 595’s heavenly Larghetto, also sampled here. Perahia’s symbiotic musical rapport with Radu Lupu in the two-piano concerto and the two-piano version of the concerto for three pianos should not go unmentioned.– Jed Distler
The box-set traces the history of Archiv from 1947, when the first recordings were made (Helmut Walcha playing Bach organ works), to a bonus CD featuring selections from the new 2013 albums mentioned above. A complete overview is appended. In between comes a sequence of albums several of which are new to CD from the great names of the label, from Walcha, Wenzinger and Safford Cape, through Karl Richter, Nikolas Harnoncourt and Sir Charles Mackerras…
Thirteen German directors present short films exploring the state of their country.