Centennial Set 1904-2004 Box set
Customers Who Viewed This Item Also Viewed
The LSO's very first recording of 1914 opens the set: Weber's "Oberon" Overture under Arthur Nikisch. The sound is antique, the strings slide, the trombones bray, the ensemble is messy, but the playing has an exuberance that augurs well for the future. The set ends with two excerpts from Berlioz's Benvenuto Cellini under the LSO's present Principal Conductor, Sir Colin Davis, a renowned Berlioz specialist, with whom the orchestra has had a long, close relationship. Captured at London's Barbican Center in 1999, the performance is thrilling, although, like several of the set's live recordings, imperfectly balanced.
Among the highlights are appearances by two guest conductors. In 1938, Bruno Walter--whom the players "felt God had put in charge"--made Beethoven's "Coriolan" Overture sound ravishingly warm and singing; by contrast, Stravinsky's Petrouchka and Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony, recorded live at the 1994 Salzburg Festival, are driven, steely, almost militaristically precise under George Solti. Josef Krips' performance of Schubert's Sixth Symphony of 1948 projects elegance, delicacy, sweetness, grace, clarity, and leisurely expressiveness; the players felt Krips was turning them into a "suave, homogenous Austrian" orchestra. One of the orchestra's favorite maestros was Pierre Monteux, "who had so much musicianship and wisdom to impart." Recorded live in Vienna 1963, his Tchaikovsky Romeo and Juliet is lush and surging, going from ardent lyricism to turbulent passion, and sounds fabulous. In a 1966 Promenade concert, István Kertész goes all out in contrasting dynamics and emotions in Schubert's "Unfinished" and Dvorák's Sixth Symphonies, but the sound at the Albert Hall is not good. At the Barbican in 1997, Debussy's Jeux is all shimmering color, atmosphere and mercurial mood under Michael Tilson Thomas. In this musical cornucopia, listeners will find their own favorites. --Edith Eisler
Top Customer Reviews
CD1: Nikisch led the orchestra, of course using the old acoustic recording technique, in a historically interesting performance of Weber's Oberon Overture. It is in execrable sound but still one can hear why people revered Nikisch; he shapes and molds the performance beautifully. And it also shows that as far back as 1914 there was an artful application of vibrato (and, alas, rather annoying portamenti) in the string-playing, lest anyone think, as some apparently do, that string vibrato is a more recent thing. This is followed (1935) by the Berlioz's King Lear Overture led by a conductor we don't often associate with that composer, Hamilton Harty. Because of its form, 'Le Roi Lear' is hard to hold together, but Harty shows himself to be a fine Berliozian. We get a warm, dramatic and cohesive 'Coriolan' Overture by Bruno Walter (1938). From 1948 we have Josef Krips leading Schubert's 6th Symphony and I swear they sound like the Vienna Philharmonic of that period, with a warm bloom in the violins and a lightness of spirit that one doesn't hear in the earlier performances. CD1 is finished by what for me is one of the really great performances I've ever heard of Tchaikovsky's 'Romeo and Juliet' Overture, led by Pierre Monteux (1963).Read more ›
The previous reviews have been detailed and enthusiastic, so I will add only a few comments. The LSO struggled for almost five decades before beginning to develop into a genuinely outstanding ensemble. They became, and still are, a jack-of-al-trades orchestra for hire, playing for film scores ad crossover albums. Their personnel was erratic, especially when Thomas Beecham came poaching for his Royal Phil. and Walter Legge for his Philharmonia Orch., both of which outshone the LSO until the mid-Sixties.
Therefore, what you hear on the first two CDs is pretty variable. Even the excellent Tchaikovsky Romeo and Juliet from 1963 is more notable for Monteux's relaxed, natural conducting than for anything special in the orchestra. One begins to hear international-level playing in 1966, when Istvan Kertesz conducted a Proms concert of the Schubert "Unfinished" and Dvorak Sixth Sym. with undisguised brio and vitality. Both readings suffer from boomy, distant recordings made in Albert Hall (the Wembley Stadium of concert halls), which is a shame. The Schubert is a great dramatic performance, better than what Kertesz did in the studio with the vienna Phil., and the Dvorak is at least as good as his famous complete set of the symphonies, a hallmark in its day.Read more ›