Παρασκευή, 6 Ιουλίου 2012

Dimitri Mitropoulos - Hector Berlioz - Requiem (2012)


Dimitri Mitropoulos - Hector Berlioz - Requiem (2012)

Dear friends, i saw a serious interest in Mitropoulos work so here we are again :)

Mahler’s Eighth Symphony and several other choral edifices aside, few works in the concert repertoire require more bodies onstage (and often out in the hall) than the Berlioz Requiem. The French composer specifies an orchestra of some 140 players, plus four brass bands (another thirty-eight players) positioned at the four corners of the stage, plus a chorus of 210 voices, plus a tenor soloist (how modest: Berlioz originally envisioned ten tenors singing the Sanctus solo in unison).

Is it any wonder that orchestras programme the Grande Messe des mortsonly on occasion – if ever?
Which brings up another question. What was Dimitri Mitropoulos doing in the summer of 1956 conducting not one, but two performances of the Requiem in different cities with different forces? Coincidence, no doubt, but an intriguing one. The first, on 15 July, was a concert at the Salzburg Festival in memory of Wilhelm Furtwängler, who had died in November 1954, featuring the Vienna Philharmonic, Vienna State Opera Chorus, and tenor Léopold Simoneau. The performance has long been available on LP and CD.
Six weeks after the Salzburg concert, on 26 August, Mitropoulos presided over the Requiem with the Cologne Radio Symphony Orchestra, two radio choirs, and Nicolai Gedda as tenor soloist. It is this stirring Cologne performance that can be heard on the present disc.

Mitropoulos, who had just finished what would be his penultimate season as music director of the New York Philharmonic, was mightily relieved to be spending the summer of 1956 in Europe. The sweet-tempered Greek conductor had taken quite a beating in recent seasons from members of the Philharmonic, and New York critics were increasingly eager to see him replaced (by Leonard Bernstein, whom Mitropoulos had mentored, and who
eventually got the job). In Europe that summer, Mitropoulos was treated with respect and even reverence. In addition to leading the Requiem in tribute to Furtwängler, he took over the conductor’s scheduled performances of Mozart’s Don Giovannito great acclaim.

By this time, Mitropoulos was no stranger to Berlioz or the Requiem. He had led the work as far back as 1939 in Naples. With the Philharmonic, both as guest and music director, he conducted many Berlioz works and recorded the Symphonie fantastiqueand excerpts from Roméo et Juliette. But Mitropoulos never conducted the Philharmonic in the Requiem. (Nor have many others: the orchestra’s archives list only three series of performances of the complete work, under Seiji Ozawa, James Levine, and Charles Dutoit, in its 170-year history.)

Whatever his track record as a Berlioz interpreter, Mitropoulos brought to the music qualities the composer himself assigned to his art. ‘The prevailing characteristics of my music are passionate expression, intense ardour, rhythmical animation and unexpected turns,’ Berlioz wrote in his Memoirs. Many listeners and critics valued Mitropoulos for his fervour and dynamism, as well as surprising nuances he applied to core works, especially from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Conducting (and rehearsing!) everything from memory (including such an intricate challenge as Berg’s Wozzeck), Mitropoulos immersed himself in a composer’s messages with almost spiritual zeal.

Mitropoulos was a welcome guest in Cologne literally until the end of his life. He conducted his final concert, a performance of Mahler’s Third Symphony with the Cologne Radio Symphony, on 31 October 1960 and died two days later while rehearsing the same work at La Scala in Milan. (The Cologne performance is available on ICA Classics as ICAC 5021 – the set was awarded the Toblacher Komponierhäuschen international record prize for 2011 in the ‘republishing’ category.) 

In the Berlioz Requiem from Cologne, Mitropoulos invests the music with utmost drama and contrast, emphasising the Day of Judgement vehemence, caressing the ethereal passages and savouring the miracles of orchestration (flutes and trombones, for example, nearly four octaves apart in the Hostiasand Agnus Dei). The antiphonal brass and percussion roar in the Dies irae, with bold input from the choruses, in a thrilling evocation of the text: ‘The trumpet, scattering its awesome sound across the graves of all lands, summons all before the throne.’ 

Vibrancy of almost operatic proportions pervades the ten movements, which are heightened by fierce attention to expressive markings (particularly accents) and laser-beam urgency. The performance, in fact, is a striking reminder of the excitement Mitropoulos generated as an opera conductor during this period. His frequent appearances at the Metropolitan Opera were praised by the same critics who took him to task for his stewardship of the Philharmonic. 

And the Cologne performance of the Berlioz introduced Mitropoulos to the rising Swedish tenor Gedda, who gives a full-throated, heroic account of the treacherous Sanctus solo. At the Met in 1958, they would collaborate in the world premiere of Samuel Barber’s Vanessaand one performance of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin. When Mitropoulos died in 1960, Met general manager Rudolf Bing prefaced a performance of Boris Godunov– a work in which the conductor had led the company – with heartfelt comments: ‘His loss is felt personally by everyone at the Metropolitan – indeed all the members of this orchestra were his friends. Naturally the Metropolitan Opera will go on and other great conductors may come and go, but there will always be a very special place in our hearts for Dimitri Mitropoulos.’
Donald Rosenberg

Tracklist:

1. Requiem et Kyrie
2. Dies irae
3. Quid sum miser
4. Rex tremendae
5. Qaerens me
6. Lacrymosa
7. Offertorium
8. Hostias
9. Sanctus
10. Agnus Dei

Nicolai Gedda, tenor
Chor des Norddeutschen Rundfunks
K?lner Rundfunkchor
K?lner Rundfunk-Sinfonie-Orchester
Conductor: Dimitri Mitropoulos

Download Link (FLAC (tracks+.cue,scans)) :

http://www.unibytes.com/uJuT_u6.cVQLqw-Us4P3UgBB
http://rapidgator.net/file/18413101/

Buy :
http://www.arkivmusic.com/classical/album.jsp?album_id=755432&album_group=1
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