Stravinsky Concert Films
Stravinsky in Hollywood (2013)
Runtime: 53 minThis Stravinsky film is a remarkable documentary written, directed and edited by Marco Capalbo, telling of the legendary composer's life after he moved to Hollywood in 1939. He did this as he envisioned a new outlet for his music — writing for films. Walt Disney already was using The Rite of Spring in his Fantasia, but Stravinsky was not pleased with the cuts and rearrangement of his score, which, coming from Russia, was not then in copyright. Disney paid Stravinsky $6,000 for the rights to the music and the composer's name. Stravinsky was considered to write music for a number of other films including Gone With the Wind, Jane Eyre and The Song of Bernadette. He actually did write some music for the latter too, and it is fascinating to watch the brief episodes from the film with Stravinsky's music! Much of the film is devoted to Robert Craft, whose close association with Stravinsky was major, and Craft is seen often talking about their relationship. The association (or non-association) of Stravinsky and his neighbor Arnold Schoenberg, is clarified, and we hear commentary about Orpheus, Agon and for for-TV The Flood which was premiered on CBS i 1962 with Craft conducting. The script is perfect and clear and presumably narrated by Capalbo. This is among the finest documentaries available.
Stravinsky Top Tracks
Un Ballo in Maschera Act I
Runtime: 52 minThe outstanding production of Verdi’s Masked Ball at the Salzburg Festivals 1989 and 1990 was Herbert von Karajan’s legacy to the Festival. Supported by a cast of superlative actor-singers in opulent scenery, Sir George Solti agreed to conduct the opera at short notice after Karajan’s unexpected death in 1989. The production had been expected to be a highlight in Karajan’s series of Verdi operas at Salzburg. Karajan’s celebrated ability to unite a cultivated sound with dramatic effects was known to create extraordinary and highly acclaimed opera events. For Un ballo in maschera Karajan planned something unusual: He would not set the opera in colonial Massachusetts, as the censors had forced Verdi to do when he was composing the work, but in Stockholm in the 1790s at the court of King Gustav III of Sweden, as Verdi had originally conceived his work. Together with the film director John Schlesinger and his stage team, Karajan developed a concept that promised theatrical splendour equal to the musical excellence that the conductor and the handpicked cast of singers would surely provide in collaboration with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. But this was not to be: stage rehearsals had already begun for the opening performance of the 1989 festival when Karajan died on 16 July. Therefore it was extraordinarily lucky that a conductor of Sir Georg Solti’s standing, was prepared to undertake the task just a week before the premiere, and with the whole world watching. He and the staging by Hollywood film director John Schlesinger was acclaimed by audience and press alike.
Bayreuth Festival - Wagner: Die Walküre
Runtime: 3 hr 59 minConducted by Daniel Barenboim and directed by Harry Kupfer, Wagner's 'Der Ring des Nibelungen' has never been better realised on film than in this legendary production from the Bayreuth Festival, recorded in 1992. An allegory on the struggle for ultimate power, the 'Ring' consists of four epic dramas. The second of these is 'Die Walküre', which focuses on Wotan, the ruler of the gods, whose ill-fated attempts to recover the ring drive much of the plot; his mortal son Siegmund and daughter Sieglinde; and his Valkyrie daughter Brünnhilde, who supports Siegmund, with tragic consequences. Cast includes Poul Elming (Siegmund), Nadine Secunde (Sieglinde), John Tomlinson (Wotan) and Anne Evans (Brünnhilde) with the Orchester der Bayreuther.
Symphony No. 4 in G-Dur - The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (2010)
Runtime: 1 hr 7 minBernard Haitink is one of the most sought-after Mahler conductors of our day. In this concert of Mahler’s Fourth Symphony, recorded live at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, he conducts the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. The American Maria Ewing fascinates with her interpreation of the soprano solo featured in the work’s finale.
Bernard Haitink first conducted the Concertgebouw Orchestra in 1956.
Beginning in 1963, Haitink was chief conductor for 25 years, during which time the orchestra developed significantly. Particularly Haitink’s interpretations of Mahler and Bruckner made a worldwide impression. The Concertgebouw Orchestra was founded in 1888. On the occasion of its 100th anniversary in 1988, the orchestra officially received the appellation ‘Royal’.
Discovering Masterpieces of Classical Music - Ravel - Bolero
Runtime: 25 minThe “Bolero”, originally composed as a ballet, is Maurice Ravel's most successful work at all. The world famous melody of the “Bolero” has been featured in popular music, motion pictures and even video games. Pianist and writer Paul Roberts vividly explains the music and its structure and also lets the audience know why Ravel was a stringent critic of his own work.
St. Matthew's Passion
Johann Sebastian Bach
Runtime: 1 hr 33 minJohann Sebastian Bach composed the St. John Passion in Cöthen during the winter of 1722/23. The text is drawn from chapters 18 and 19 of the Gospel according to St. John, and includes some excerpts from St. Mathew and additional text from a Passion poem by the Hamburg town councillor Barthold Heinrich Brockes. The composer led the first performance at the Good Friday services on 7 April 1724 at St. Nicholas Church in Leipzig, where he had since become municipal music director and cantor of the Thomasschule. This Passion is heard less often today than the St. Matthew Passion, perhaps because the St. John Passion is in some ways more raw and evokes the anguish of the Passion more painfully than the St. Matthew work. A musician’s musician, an occasional firebrand and a constant paradox – Nikolaus Harnoncourt (born in 1929) is one of the most profound and intriguing conductors of our time. Considered one of the world’s leading specialists of Baroque music, he has long since turned his attention to Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, and even to Jacques Offenbach and Johann Strauss. He spent many years as a cellist with the Wiener Symphoniker before founding the "Concentus Musicus Wien" with his wife Alice in 1953. It soon became one of the world’s most respected ensembles specializing in the performance of early music on original instruments. In the 1970s, Harnoncourt joined forces with Jean-Pierre Ponnelle to stage a series of Monteverdi operas at the Zurich Opera House. This universally acclaimed cycle contributed to a renaissance of Monteverdi’s music and set standards for early Baroque performance practice. He later began to turn his attention more and more to the music of Mozart, whom he considers "the most romantic of all composers". Harnoncourt did not make his official debut at the Salzburg Festival until 1992. He has been conducting there regularly since then and is a sought-after guest conductor of such reputable ensembles as the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonics, the Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe.