You will probably be as incredulous as I was to learn that the greatest cycle of Mahler symphonies comes not from any of the usual suspects - Abbado, Bernstein, Chially, Haitink, Kubelik, Rattle, Sinopoli, Solti, Tennstedt - but from the unsung Gary Bertini, who spent the better part of his career as music director of the Cologne Radio Symphony Orchestra. Unlike any of those more publicized sets, each of which includes a misfire or two, Bertini is consistently successful from first to last; his performance of each of these works can stand comparison with the very best available.
If the Alpha label had done nothing more than return Gustav Leonhardt to the studio, it would still be one of the best contemporary classical record companies. That everything else about its releases – the sound, the liner notes, even the reproductions on the covers – is as good or better than what any other classical company manages is only icing on the cake. Leonhardt has been one of the finest harpsichordists in the world for more than 40 years, and his recordings of the repertoire from Frescobaldi to Bach have been the standards against which all other recordings have been judged. But Leonhardt had made no recordings for most of the last decade, and listeners began to wonder if he ever would again. Now, with his fourth release for Alpha, listeners can finally relax, confident in the knowledge that Leonhardt has indeed returned. This 2005 disc of keyboard music by Byrd finds Leonhardt at the top of his form. As always, his technique is secure, and nothing in Byrd's virtuoso writing is beyond him. And, as always, his musicianship is assured, and nothing in Byrd's sensitive music is beyond him.
A three-part series of films produced by PBS, on the life and works of the great thinker and psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung. Part one provides an overview of the major contributions made by Jung in his long career. Born on July 26, 1875, in Switzerland, Jung became interested in psychiatry during his medical studies. He saw that the minds of mentally deranged persons had similar contents, much of which he recognized from his own interior life, described in his autobiography Memories, Dreams, Reflections.
This is one of only two complete recordings of Telemann's Paris Quartets available as a single set, and is much superior to the old Bruggen set. The Kuijkens are all very stylish and engaging performers, and they play these works very well.
Telemann wrote a lot of very good chamber music, but these quartets show him at his best. They are full of wonderful melodies, and some amazing rhythmic quirks. If Telemann had not been so prolific, these works would be considered absolute masterpieces on the order of the Brandenburg Concertos of Bach. They are that good.
This version of Holst’s endearing masterpiece, “The Planets”, sounds very good in Naxos’ super audio 5.1 technology. I do not have the point one (subwoofer) hooked up in my house and assume, by listening to the recording in 5.0, that the timpani — which are already very powerful and forward placed — would be explosive if you listened in 5.1. The sound is very good otherwise, with wide ranging and natural orchestral body and timbre. It is not the best super audio sound I’ve heard but it is good and a big improvement over the stereo sound on the last version of “The Planets” I purchased, the one Berlin Philharmonic and Simon Rattle released last year.