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…
"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
“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 overtures of early Romantic composer Carl Maria von Weber are among his most appealing works, and their colorful orchestration, vivid scene-painting, and abundant tunefulness have made them favorite concert openers, long after most of their associated operas dropped out of the repertoire. This generous bybrid SACD by the Tapiola Sinfonietta, conducted by Jean-Jacques Kantorow, presents the most popular overtures Oberon, Euryanthe, and Der Freischütz with seven less famous but equally engaging pieces that fill out the program.
The Augustinus Muziekcentrum in Antwerp is a deconsecrated church repurposed for concerts, especially in the field of early music. The venue may work well for some pieces, but it's bothersome in this program of comic vocal and instrumental music by Telemann, where it's completely inappropriate. The two comic cantatas here presuppose an intimate environment of connoisseurs, but the voice of soprano soloist Dorothee Mields gets lots in the church's vast spaces to such an extent that text intelligibility is a problem, even with the aid of printed texts in German, Dutch, French, and English./quote]
Johann Friedrich Fasch (1688-1758) was a forward-looking musician who, though a contemporary of Bach, anticipated Haydn and Mozart in the classical style of his compositions. In his younger years he held several positions before he became the music director for the chapel at the court in Zerbst, where he remained for 36 years. He also enjoyed a close connection with Dresden musicians, chiefly with the concertmaster of the Dresden court orchestra, Pisendel. These works are thought to have been some of Fasch's many compositions for the famous orchestra at Dresden.
Two of these are three-movement works called overtures; these represent a kind of "overture symphony" that Fasch created himself. Two string symphonies and two concertos are included also, the concertos showing the influence of Vivaldi, whom Fasch admired. With the exception of one symphony, which has four movements, every work here has three.(Ardella Crawford)
Italian historical-performance specialist violinist Frederico Guglielmo has led several different ensembles and offered various interpretive styles, as violinist and as conductor, in his approach to the violin music of the Baroque in Italy and beyond. His take on Handel's Water Music is brisk and rhythmic, but this collection of orchestral and solo violin music by the virtuoso Francesco Maria Veracini, whom the historian Charles Burney described as "capo pazzo," or crazy in the head, is a good deal quieter and more circumspect, with a small, violin-heavy ensemble that allows the wind parts to show through in the two orchestral overtures included.
Barenboim is an excellent Wagner conductor, and it's a pity his ongoing series of Wagner operas is often forced to make do with less than splendid voices. All the more reason, then, to enjoy this excellent disc of overtures and preludes, all of which are played to the hilt by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and recorded in sound of superb amplitude.