2018 was branded as “Gewandhausjahr”: Gewandhausorchester celebrates its 275th birthday and the inauguration of Andris Nelsons as new Gewandhauskapellmeister.
Theodor W. Adorno regarded Mahlers Symphony No. 9 as the first work of modern music. Adornos teacher, Alban Berg, saw in it the expression of a tremendous love for this world, a longing to live in peace and to savor Nature to its depths before the arrival of Death. For it will inevitably come. This live recording of the composers last completed symphony is part of an ongoing Leipzig cycle of Mahlers symphonies. It confirms once more the Gewandhaus Orchestras reputation as an exemplary ensemble for the performance of Mahlers music. The highest level of performance culture combined with a sharply contoured, transparent, polished, and detailed manner of playing, plus infectious verve and an unmistakable sound characterized by a darkly golden color these are qualities responsible for the Gewandhaus Orchestras international reputation. Since the time of Bruno Walter, the orchestra has developed over the years a deep understanding of the works of Gustav Mahler, which in their collaboration with Riccardo Chailly has been continued.
In this recording Riccardo Chailly directs Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera for the first time in his function as General Music Director of the Leipzig Oper on the 2nd of November 2005. Un ballo in maschera is as exciting as a thriller, but with a passion that can only be experienced in a Verdi opera. It stands to reason that only a man of equal passion would have the ability of bringing this spectacle to the stage adequately.
Riccardo Chailly - Kapellmeister of the Gewandhaus in Bach's city of Leipzig - conducts the city's famous Gewandhausorchester in the glorious Christmas Oratorio. An outstanding vocal cast includes Martin Lattke as the evangelist, acclaimed English soprano Carolyn Sampson and the voices of the Dresdner Kammerchor. The six parts which make up the Christmas Oratorio tell the biblical story from Christ's birth to the adoration of the shepherds and the Magi, and the flight in to Egypt to escape Herod's slaughter of the infants. Having first conducted the Gewandhausorchester in 1986, Riccardo Chailly's association with Leipzig is now only one year less than Bach's.
Accardo's performances are nothing short of spectacular, and (the late) Kurt Masur and the Gewandhaus's performances never disappoint. Most classical audiophiles may be familiar only with Bruch's first violin concerto and the "Scottish Fantasy," but there are two more wonderful violin concertos, a Romance, a Konzertstuck, a Serenade, a piece entitled "Adagio Appassionato" and a piece that was new to me, "In Memoriam," a very beautiful and moving composition that is the last band on the last record.
Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 is an incomprehensible wonder of music history, rigorously peculiar, disturbingly new, and timelessly modern. “Wie ein Naturlaut” (Like a sound of nature) is indicated above the first notes of the symphony. It is both the prelude and the key to his symphonic cosmos as a whole. Mahler captures this music of the world, transforms it into a symphony in the old, comprehensive sense of the word and uses it to create his masterpiece of harmony. Composed over the course of just a few months at the beginning of 1888 in Leipzig, this symphony is a true musical awakening. Riccardo Chailly and the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig bring Mahler’s sounds of nature to life in a riveting performance.
These performances are not, to be sure, historically informed, nor are they fashionably chamber-like. The Thomanerchor is traditionally large (and all male), and it is accompanied in four of the 11 discs by the Gewandhaus Orchestra and in the remaining seven by the Neues Bachisches Collegium Musicum. The roster of the latter is not listed, but, like the Gewandhaus Orchestra, its players use modern instruments and are not adverse to vibrato. On the other hand, Rotzsch does avoid, for the most part, languid tempos and extravagant gestures. The young men of the Thomanerchor are well trained and attentive and make, collectively, a joyfully controlled noise. The orchestral players and instrumental soloists, too, are beyond reproach. Similarly, Rotzsch’s soloists are top-drawer. Among the latter, Arleen Augér, Otrun Wenkel, Peter Schreier, and Hermann Christian Polster make the most frequent appearances, but the others, including the likes of Regina Werner, Doris Soffel, Theo Adam, and Siegfried Lorenz, are splendid as well. Rotzsch, himself, sings on two of the discs (he is a tenor).–George Chien
Grammy-winning conductor Andris Nelsons and his "superb" (The Guardian) Gewandhausorchester Leipzig continue their acclaimed couplings of Bruckner symphonies and Wagner masterpieces with Symphony No. 6 and Symphony No. 9. The symphonies are accompanied by the Wagner's Prelude to his last complete opera, Parsifal, and the Siegfried Idyll.
The renowned St. Thomas Boys Choir of Leipzig, which boasts J. S. Bach as a former cantor, celebrates its 800th anniversary with an extraordinary interpretation of the St. Matthew Passion. The Guardian praised how the harmonic lines interwove with a transcendence that can only be achieved through living, eating and working together. This Accentus Music production is the only audio-visual release of Bachs St. Matthew Passion, performed by the choir for which it was written, in St. Thomas Church, Leipzig, where the composer worked and is buried.
Riccardo Chailly and the Gewandhaus Orchester, Leipzig follow the international success of their recording of Gershwin's piano concerto in F with five of Bach's best loved concertos for keyboard, a recording which has already stayed 7 weeks in the Italian Pop charts. The soloist is young Iranian-born Bach specialist Ramin Bahrami. Well known on the international concert platform, Ramin Bahrami studied with the legendary American Bach pianist Rosalyn Tureck, the artist who perhaps more than any other brought the composer's keyboard works to the attention of the public through her research and recordings.