As well as Sir Charles's first recording of Janácek's Sinfonietta, this 5-CD set also showcases him performing the music of other composers whose music he was particularly famed for the world over.
The steady increase in recordings of his music has now established Suk as one of the great musical poets of the early 20th century. Too much is made of his affinities with his teacher and father-in-law, Dvorák; for his own part, Dvorák never imposed his personality on his pupils and Suk's mature music owes him little more than a respect for craft and an extraordinarily well developed ear for orchestral colour. His affinities in the five-movement A Summer's Tale, completed in 1909 – a magnificent successor to his profound Asrael Symphony – reflect Debussy and parallel the music of his friend Sibelius and Holst, but underpinning the musical language is a profound originality energising both form and timbre.
Mackerras's recording joins a select band: Šejna's vintage performance on Supraphon and Pešek's inspired rendition with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic; his is an equal to them both and the Czech Philharmonic's playing is both aspiring and inspiring.
This disc was nominated for the 1998 Grammy Awards for "Best Classical Album," "Best Engineered Album, Classical," and "Best Orchestral Performance."
This is not your father's Brahms, though it may be your great-grandfather's. The concept behind this cycle-with-a-difference is to emulate the kind of orchestra Brahms liked to use, specifically the Meiningen Court Orchestra, with which he worked extensively after 1880 and entrusted with several important premieres…
Sir Charles Mackerras and the London Philharmonic Orchestra shared a musical heritage spanning 45 years and this live recording of Dvorák’s Symphonic Variations and Symphony No. 8 from 1992 pays tribute to a partnership that exuded a joy and vivacity in music making.
Though one could quibble with this detail of articulation or that detail of phrasing, one could not convincingly assert that the performances of Mozart's symphonies No. 29, No. 31, No. 32, No. 35, and No. 36 with Charles Mackerras leading the Scottish Chamber Orchestra are anything short of superlative. They famously recorded these same works for Telarc 20 years ago in performances that were hailed as a masterful meeting of conductor and orchestra, and the intervening years have only deepened the relationship, resulting in performances that shine and sparkle, as well as probe and ponder. With all repeats intact, the works here are much longer than usual, but the energy and spirit Mackerras and the Scottish musicians bring to the music makes their performances seem not a note too long.
Sir Charles Mackerras leads a fine performance of Mozart's last opera seria, a work that should be far better appreciated than it is. Full of dignity and poise, aria follows duet follows aria, fascinatingly scored, and exactly the correct length. The numbers are expressive and filled with the information we need to know these characters. Sesto, a travesty role, is taken by Magdalena Kozena, who follows in the footsteps of Teresa Berganza, Cecilia Bartoli, and Anne Sofie von Otter and proves their equal. Her gorgeous voice and technique shine through. –Robert Levine
The Haffner Serenade in D major was written in 1776 for Marie Elizabeth Haffner's wedding celebration and was commissioned by her brother Sigmund, later the recipient of the Haffner Symphony. Though this composition has elements of Mozart's symphonic style – particularly in its dramatic first and last movements, the grand Menuettos, and the sixth movement Andante – it is cast in eight movements of diverse character and has a casual ambience that belongs to the serenade. The violin solos in the second, third, and fourth movements lend a concertante air to this work, though they have a private quality unlike the bravura displays of the concerto style…
This famous production of Donizetti’s Mary Stuart was one of English National Opera’s most memorable from the 1980’s. Dame Janet Baker chose the title role of Donizetti’s Scottish queen for her farewell to the London operatic stage in 1982. It was a triumph for Dame Janet, in one of the most rewarding of operatic roles. As Mary, she displays her full range as a great singing actress, at times imperious and confrontational, yet during the quieter reflective moments intensely moving. Her adversary Elizabeth is sung by Rosalind Plowright, in one of the best performances of her career, both intense and passionate in this demanding role. The famous, though entirely fictional, encounter scene between the two Queens is extremely powerful. The cast also includes John Tomlinson I commanding voice as Talbot, and David Randall as an ardent Leicester. The Performance is gloriously conducted by Sir Charles Mackerras.
Charles Mackerras is one of the most purely musical and versatile conductors around. In fact, he's never made a bad record, and this Nutcracker is outstanding… In short, a great performance. - David Hurwitz; Editorial Reviews - Amazon.com