The Vienna Philharmonic is one of the world's leading recording orchestras. Ever since its very first recording of Beethoven's 6th Symphony under Franz Schalk in 1928, work in the studio has taken up a considerable part of its "free time", which is, on account of its duties at the Vienna State Opera, in any case very limited. There are not many major 20th-century conductors, many important works of the operatic and concert repertory, or indeed many important labels that do not figure in its large and comprehensive disco-graphy.
This 2009 ECM disc containing the world premiere of Alfred Schnittke's Ninth Symphony, the composer's final work, will be mandatory listening for fans of post-modernist Russian music, or contemporary music in general. Begun after the premiere of Schnittke's Eighth Symphony in 1994 and unfinished at the composer's death in 1998, the Ninth existed only as three movements of manuscript (and indecipherable manuscript at that: a stroke had paralyzed Schnittke's right side, forcing him to write with his left hand) until composer Alexandr Raskatov deciphered the manuscript and conductor Dennis Russell Davies presented its premiere. As presented in this January 2008 recording, Schnittke's Ninth continues and extends the austere sound world of the Eighth into ever more severe zones. There's no denying this is the authentic voice of Schnittke: the etiolated textures, abrupt gestures, timeless tempos, and haunting themes have clear roots in the composer's preceding works. Davies and the excellent Dresdner Philharmonie appear acutely conscious that the Ninth was the composer's last work, but the tone of leave-taking is inherent in Schnittke's inward music.
Fans of Leonard Bernstein will not want to miss the chance to snap up this limited edition 60-CD set, Bernstein Symphony Edition. With a list price of just over two dollars per disc, it's a bargain not to be missed. What's most impressive about these recordings of well over 100 symphonies made between 1953 and 1976, almost all of which feature the New York Philharmonic, is the scope and depth of Bernstein's repertoire.
Having heard the sixth symphony on a radio broadcast (albeit missing the second movement because of problems at the station), I decided to go out on a limb and buy the complete symphonies, being completely unfamiliar with Atterberg.
It was a decision I do not regret.
This DVD is a fascinating document of a great conductor and orchestra playing two of the most underrated of Shostakovich's symphonies in 1985 and 1986 concerts in Vienna's Musikverein.
In 2014 Deutsche Grammophon celebrated the 20th anniversary of its flagship series, The Originals, with a limited edition collection featuring some of the labels greatest albums.
This second volume concludes the labels survey of its iconic series by presenting more legendary analogue albums. Including key recordings such as Beethovens Late Sonatas with Pollini, Berliozs Symphonie Fantastique with Markevitch, Brahmss Hungarian Dances with Karajan, Dvoraks New World with Fricsay, Chopin Preludes with Argerich…