A luxurious and authoritative 64CD orchestral and concerto set, celebrating one of the world’s great orchestras and their 64-year relationship with Decca Classics.
Few labels can claim to be so associated with a city as inextricably as Decca is with Vienna. No history of classical recordings would be complete without a chapter documenting how both Decca and the WP worked to perfect the art of recording in the city’s great concert halls, most notably in the famous Sofiensaal.
A mere 16 years after Erich Kunzel and the Cincinnati Pops recorded their now-classic Christmas with the Pops, Christmastime Is Here is their 2006 follow-up. It sticks to the same basic formula: a mix of orchestral, choral, and solo numbers performed by the Indiana University Singing Hoosiers (a Kunzel favorite, succeeding the original's May Festival Chorus), the School for Creative and Performing Arts Children's Choir (who sang on the original, though presumably with a different roster), and an entirely new crop of soloists. While the original relied on classic veterans such as Rosemary Clooney and Doc Severinsen, Christmastime Is Here makes use of hip jazz vocalists (and, not coincidentally, Telarc recording artists all) Ann Hampton Callaway ("I Wonder as I Wander"), Tierney Sutton ("I'll Be Home for Christmas"), Tony DeSare ("The Christmas Song"), and John Pizzarelli (""Silver Bells") as well as British sextet the King's Singers ("Silent Night").
»This recording is a true marvel!« ~Fanfare
Though back in his Budapest years he had coached "Die Entführung aus dem Serail" for performances conducted by no less a figure that Erich Kleiber, and the opera continued to form part of the everyday repertoire in Germany throughout Solti's career, Mozart's Singspiel nevertheless managed to elude him in theatre until he finally conducted it at Covent Garden in November 1987 - again in the company's first performance of the piece. (It is a rather surprising mark of Solti's Mozartian credentials that he gave the Royal Opera no fewer than three major company premieres of his operas.) Two years earlier he had completed his recording of the work in Vienna, with an outstanding cast at his disposal. Edita Gruberova's comprehensively excellent technique and musicality make her an eloquent Konstanze, Kathleen Battle is the vital, pristine Blonde, Gösta Winbergh a winning Belmonte, Heinz Zednik a charming Pedrillo, and Martti Talvela an Osmin of unusual power and menace.
Performances from Pamela Coburn, Brigitte Fassbaender, Janet Perry, Eberhard Wachter, the Choir und Ballet der Bayerischen Staatsoper, and the Bayerisches Staatsorchester. Rosalinde, wife of Eisenstein, is having an affair with Alfred. Eisenstein is due to begin a prison sentence the next morning, and the prison governor, Frank, is expected to collect him at any moment. However, Eisenstein allows himself to be talked into attending a fancy dress ball by Dr Falke, and when Frank arrives to find Alfred with Rosalinde, he assumes him to be Eisenstein and carts him off to prison.
…Kunzel's Ruslan and Ludmilla overture is suitably festive, even if it doesn't quite achieve the breathless intensity exhibited by Bernstein or Pletnev. But then, being "definitive" isn't the point of this album–enjoyable music-making is, and in that respect it's a triumph. Especially so as the Cincinnati Pops plays masterfully and with great enthusiasm throughout the program. (Listen to the bold trombones in Mussorgsky's Polonaise or to the singing strings in Spartacus.) Telarc captures it all in its signature vivid, high-impact sound. Yes, I know you already have a couple of Russian favorites discs in your collection, but this new Telarc release is special enough that you'll want to make room for it.