Levine on disc

40 years at the Met, Mozart at the BSO
By LLOYD SCHWARTZ  |  October 6, 2010

James Levine: He's back! By Lloyd Schwartz.
The Met has just released two boxed sets of Levine performances, Celebrating 40 Years at the Met — 11 operas on CD and 11 operas and concert excerpts on DVD. Highlights include Alban Berg's powerful Wozzeck on both a 1980 CD, with José van Dam and the thrilling Anja Silja, and a DVD of the 2001 production. Berg's Lulu turns up on an exciting 1980 DVD with Julia Migenes, as the sexually charged heroine, Franz Mazura, and Evelyn Lear, and on CD, with Christine Schäfer, in the 2001 revival. The incandescent Teresa Stratas appears on three DVDs: in Bedrich Smetana's The Bartered Bride (with Nicolai Gedda and Jon Vickers, 1978); in Kurt Weill's Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny (with the legendary Astrid Varnay, 1979); and as Marie Antoinette in the original cast of John Corigliano's The Ghosts of Versailles (with Håkan Hagegård, Marilyn Horne, and Renée Fleming, 1992). There's Verdi (a 1980 DVD of Don Carlo) and Wagner (a 1998 Lohengrin on CD); there's Stravinsky (a delightful 1984 triple bill of ballet and opera) and Schoenberg (the celebrated 1999 Moses und Aron), both on CD. Pavarotti's only appearance is in a cameo star turn as the Italian Singer in a 1982 Richard Strauss Rosenkavalier DVD (with Kiri te Kanawa and Tatiana Troyanos). Best of all, there's the first CD release of the late Lorraine Hunt Lieberson's towering performance as Dido in Berlioz's Les Troyens (a 2003 production you wouldn't want to look at anyway), and her heartbreaking Myrtle Wilson in Levine's most important commission, John Harbison's 2000 The Great Gatsby. Of course, the real stars are always Levine and the phenomenal Met Orchestra. (None of these performances is yet available outside of the boxed sets.)

The BSO has also just released a two-CD selection from Levine's live 2009 performances of Mozart symphonies (Nos. 14, 18, 20, 39, and the Jupiter). The BSO strings have rarely sounded more glowing. These delicious, loving performances deserve a place among the best Mozart recordings.

  Topics: Classical , Music, Classical Music, James Levine,  More more >
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