Saturday, January 23, 2010

Albert Coates - Great Conductors of the 20th Century

Albert Coates - Great Conductors of the 20th Century
Orchestral | single flac, no cue | no log, cover | 2 CD, 545 MB
February 11, 2003 | EMI | RapidShare

If you are not already familiar with the amazing conducting art of the Russian-born Albert Coates (1882-1953), then you should not pass up this two-CD set devoted to him in the "Great Conductors of the Twentieth Century" series.

All of the recordings are from 1926-1930 period and are of a stunning quality not just sonically but artistically as well. I liked what I heard all the way through the largely Russian fare that made up the first disc, but the final track was a Ravel "La Valse" that really set me off. This is a piece whose opening is often almost inaudible or else done so softly on more contemporary recordings, but with Coates leading the London Symphony Orchestra in this take from 1926 it opens with growling pulsations that set the stage for a performance that is as sensitive as it is electrical. This is music-making done with as little manneristic effect as possible, and the result is like hearing the work again for the first time.

The second disc is a generous helping of Wagner done with the brisk tempi that Coates seemed to prefer and which he was able to employ to such powerful effect. This is Wagner deliberately done but not at all lacking in depth or feeling: the reading of the "Tannhauser Overture" reminds you once more why this really is such magnificent music; the "Entry of the Gods into Valhalla" benefits here too from an unusual arrangement that may puzzle some purists but which allows the conductor and orchestra to explore the excerpt musically; the "Magic Fire Music" is a stunning combination of real pathos and even more real majesty; and the "Rhine Journey" is a finely nuanced performance which made me think that even Toscanini could have learned a thing or two from it about how to approach this score. The "Tristan und Isolde" Act 2 Love Duet with Lauritz Melchior and Frida Leider speaks for itself. In Coates these two giants have a real collaborator, a man who makes the orchestra (the Berlin Staatsoper band) an integral part of the ecstasy unfolding before you. I was amazed at how 'connected' the two vocalists seemed to be with the orchestral sound around them, a level of connection not always apparent or even present in the recordings done since the 1960s.

The final selection is a 1928 "Tod und Verklarung" that is all painful simplicity: it is the most organic unravelling of this work that I have ever heard on CD (the others, for the sake of comparison, being Mengelberg, Furtwangler, Rodzinski, Horenstein, Kempe, and Karajan): it is an awesome example of emotion and control holding each other in check.--Amazon

CD Content

# Oberon, overture to the opera
Composed by Carl Maria von Weber

# Mephisto Waltz, for orchestra No. 1 (Der Tanz in der Dorfschenke; Episoden No. 2), S. 110/2 (LW G16/2)
Composed by Franz Liszt

# Symphony No.2 in B minor
Composed by Alexander Borodin

# Mlada, suite for orchestra Procession of the Nobles
Composed by Nikolay Andreyevich Rimsky-Korsakov

# Francesca da Rimini, symphonic fantasy for orchestra in E minor, Op. 32
Composed by Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky

# Gopak (Hopak), for orchestra, transcribed by Liadov from the opera Sorochintsï Fair
Composed by Modest Mussorgsky

# La valse, poème choréographique for orchestra
Composed by Maurice Ravel

# Tannhäuser, opera, WWV 70 Overture
Composed by Richard Wagner

# Das Rheingold (The Rhine Gold), opera, WWV 86a Einzug der Götter
Composed by Richard Wagner

# Die Walküre (The Valkyrie), opera, WWV 86b Feuerzauber
Composed by Richard Wagner

# Die Götterdämmerung (Twilight of the Gods), opera, WWV 86d Siegfrieds Rheinfahrt
Composed by Richard Wagner

# Tristan und Isolde, opera, WWV 90 Act 2. Love Duet. Isolde! Geliebte! - Tristan! Geliebter! / O sink hernieder, Nacht der Liebe
Composed by Richard Wagner
Performed by Berlin State Opera Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra
with Frida Leider, Lauritz Melchior
Conducted by Albert Coates

# Hänsel und Gretel, opera Prelude
Composed by Engelbert Humperdinck

# Tod und Verklärung (Death and Transfiguration), tone poem for orchestra, Op. 24 (TrV 158)
Composed by Richard Strauss

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