"The virtuosity and unanimity of the VPO strings command the highest respect. The grave opening fugue, the brilliant scherzo and the impassioned finale sound terrific … a fabulous disc." - Gramophone
A genial conductor with a particular gift for French music, Charles Munch extended the Boston Symphony's glory years (begun under the baton of Serge Koussevitzky) into the early 1960s. Munch was so venerated that conservative Bostonians even declined to fuss over rumors that he was having an affair with his niece, pianist Nicole Henriot-Schweitzer; they wrote it off as part of his romantic French nature. Paradoxically, Munch was not precisely French. He was born in Alsace-Lorraine, which at the time (1891) was controlled by Germany and has long hovered between two cultural worlds. Munch himself benefitted from both French and German musical training, and his first important musical posts were in Germany…
“this DVD brings compelling accounts of the master at work, visually as well as aurally. There is a powerful intensity to the Beethoven overtures and the opening of William Tell is beautifully done, with glorious playing from the Berliners…There is plenty of fascinating archival material to see; and within the maestro's obviously glamorous, jet-set lifestyle, he emerges as a musical communicator of warmth - and humour too. A most revealing issue.” (The Penguin Guide)
The Karajan Official Remastered Edition comprises 13 box sets containing official remasterings of the finest recordings the Austrian conductor made for EMI between 1946 and 1984, which are now a jewel of the Warner Classics catalog. This 6-CD box presents Karajan's first recording of the complete Beethoven Symphonies, made in the early 1950s with London's recently-founded Philharmonia Orchestra. The recording of the 9th Symphony is available here in stereo for the very first time, taken from original unreleased tapes.
“I do not know precisely what is my destination: however, I do know that 1 evening, after for the 1st time hearing a symphony by Beethoven, I became feverish & ill. As soon as I recovered, I became a musician.” Thus Richard Wagner described the enormous impression that Beethoven’s music had made on him in his novelette Eine Pilgerfahrt zu Beethoven (a pilgrimage to Beethoven). Although it is difficult to separate fact & fiction in this novelette, Beethoven’s music did indeed exert a major influence on the life of the young composer. Wagner was 17 years old when he 1st heard Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, a work which was to play a central role during his entire life, & which he was, for instance, to conduct in 1846 at the opening of the Festival Theatre in Bayreuth.
Luigi Cherubini, buried next to Chopin in Paris, was universally hailed as a great composer during his own time; even Beethoven admired works like the Requiem in C minor of 1816. It's easy to understand Beethoven's reactions; in an age when lightness still ruled, Cherubini's mature works had great seriousness of purpose. The works on this release are a bit different. They date from the 1780s, before and just after Cherubini moved to Paris and scored his first success there with Démophoon.