MOZART: Overture to Don Giovanni. Clarinet Concerto in A, K. 622. Symphony
No. 38 in D, K. 504 "Prague."
LISZT: A Faust Symphony
The Euroarts DVD offers a concert of music by Mozart played in concert January 27, 2006 in Prague's Estates Theatre. The composer had particular affection for Prague, and for this venue where all three works received their premieres .Don Giovanni was first presented Oct. 29, 1787 (with the composer conducting), the Clarinet Concerto Oct. 16, 1791 with Anton Stadler as soloist, and Symphony No. 35 Jan. 19, 1787. Manfred Honeck conducts energetic performances with members of the Czech Philharmonic in top form. Master clarinetist Sharon Kam gives an elegant reading of the Clarinet Concerto performing the work on the basset clarinet as it was at the premiere. Sonics are warm and well-balanced, and Adam Rezek's video direction could not be bettered. An outstanding release.
What a pleasure it is to see conductor Václav Neumann conducting the Czech Philharmonic and the Prague Philharmonic Chorus in Dvorak's Requiem. Neumann had a quarter-century relationship with the CPO and was musical director from 1968 to 1990. During that time he recorded many Czech works, particularly Dvorak and Janacek. As he never recorded the Requiem, this DVD is particularly valuable, from a performancer given in the late '80s; exact date not given, but the copyright is listed as 1988. Audio is splendid stereo which beautifully captures the warm acoustics of St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague. The four Czech soloists are superb.
Leonard Bernstein first heard Liszt's A Faust Symphony in 1941 when Serge Koussevitzky conducted the first two movements (Faust, Gretchen) with the Boston Symphony. In 1960 Bernstein recorded the work for CBS/Columbia with the New York Philharmonic (Charles Bressler was the tenor), and again for DGG in Boston's Symphony Hall July 1976 when a concert performance was filmed, followed by recording sessions. The CD recording is still in the catalog, a single mid-price disk in DGG's Originals series (447449). This music is perfect for Bernstein's histrionic side and, although the camera often is on him (Humphrey Burton directed), he is not as agonized as he is in later videos. The artificially produced 5.1 surround sound is excellent.
R.E.B. (December 2006)