This well recorded disc from 1987 delivers truly exciting performances of all three works in typically crisp manner by Zimerman. Ozawa and the Boston orchestra give excellent support. The emphasis here is on excitement largely created by fast speeds delivered with clarity. The more gentler parts of all three works are played with due regard to sensitivity but there is no denying that in these recordings these works are seen as primarily as virtuoso display works and that is what we are given.
Wieniawski's scintillating works are played with brilliance and great musical charm here by Perlman and Sanders (piano) for the duets, and Ozawa conducting the LPO for the concertos. It is somtimes said that Perlman's playing has often been recorded too "forward", so one can hear the "between the notes" bowing sounds when he plays.
This is the simply a slpendid recording- well paced, energetic and in excellent sound. I have a suspicion that many people drawn to these works pay undo emphasis on the choir [or they are choir singers] and understandably get frustrating when the choir is not front and center in the musical proceedings. But what Poulenc wrote here does not emphasize the choir [he was a master instrumentalist after all!] so the orchestra should be more prominent at times. Ragardless, this is a great performance!
Swan Lake was the first of Tchaikovsky's three great ballets– works which added a new level of depth and sophistication to what had been a purely superficial art form. Today the music is so well-known and popular that it's impossible to comprehend the difficulties the composer experienced at early performances. Audiences found the music "too symphonic," and the dancers were put off by the prominence given to the orchestra which, they felt, distracted ballet fans from the action on stage. Of course, all of these supposed "defects" are precisely what we admire about the music today, and this elegant but exciting performance reveals the music in all of its glory.
The late Mstislav Rostropovich and Seiji Ozawa deliver probably the greatest digital recording of the Dvorak concerto. For those familiar with the analog Karajan/Rostropovich recording, this digital recording finds the soloist creating a similar impression married with a more supportive Ozawa and the Boston Symphony. Karajan's creamy string sound and often overly-dramatic stylization is replaced here by Ozawa's stricter approach; his handling of the orchestra is masterful in this taught, precise reading. The legendary Boston Symphony responds resplendently and, although they may not highlight the rustic Czech idiom of this music, they certainly bring much charm, warmth, and expected musicality to the accompaniment. But enough about the orchestra - on to Rostropovich.
Das war ein Abend, wie Opernfreunde ihn lieben: Tschaikowskis »Pique Dame«, ein Werk des Repertoires und doch selten gespielt, ein Ensemble nicht nur berühmter Namen, sondern großer Singschauspieler, dazu ein Dirigent der Sonderklasse – eine Aufführung, wie sie auch an einem Haus wie der Wiener Staatsoper nicht zum »Alltag« gehört. Der Erfolg der Aufführung, der Jubel waren gleichsam vorprogrammiert. Zumal die Wiener Staatsoper ihrem Publikum noch eine ganz besondere Attraktion anzubieten hatte: Im Mittelpunkt des Abends und schier endloser Ovationen stand eine der großen Heroinen der Opernbühne, Martha Mödl, die hier in den Fünfziger- und Sechzigerjahren des Jahrhunderts als Leonore in Beethovens »Fidelio«, als Isolde und Brünnhilde, aber auch in so manchen Partien des dramatischen Mezzofachs Triumphe gefeiert hatte.
This is playing in the grand manner… Ozawa and the orchestra are behind the soloist in all this and the deciso element is fully realized. But don't let me imply a lack of finesse; not only do lyrical sections sing with subtlety, the big passages also are shapely… In the gorgeously grisly Totentanz, both music and playing should make your hair stand on end. - C.H.; Gramophone