C0063. THE VIENNA PHILHARMONIC, w. Mitropoulos (Symphony #9 - Mahler), Bohm (Tod und Verklärung; Ein Heldenleben - both Strauss), Karajan (Symphony #8 -Bruckner). (E.U.) 4-Andante 4996, recorded on a Selenophone, a device that used the photoelectric properties of selenium to etch a soundtrack on 8mm film. Lavish Edition features elaborate sturdy hardcover deluxe 179pp book. Very long out-of-print, final ever-so-slightly used copy! - 0-9712764-5-5
"This set is typical of Andante's perfectionist approach to every aspect of their product: superb A&R, notes, packaging, and sound restoration. [In Bruckner's Eighth] Karajan weaves his most hypnotic spell. His control of phrase and line is breathtaking....being in the audience via Andante's CDs for this live performance in 1957 carries a special sort of magic."
"Rich in historical and musical significance, the performances in this collection feature the Vienna Philharmonic at its finest. Here you'll find Herbert von Karajan conducting Bruckner's Eighth Symphony, a work which has enjoyed a close association with the orchestra since its 1908 Vienna premiere. Dmitri Mitropoulos leads Mahler's Ninth Symphony - eerily, just one month before the conductor would suffer a fatal heart attack while conducting the same composer's Third Symphony. And Karl Böhm brings a personal touch to two tone poems by his close friend Richard Strauss. All of these performances are set against the lively backdrop of late 1950s and early 60s Vienna, a time of hope and newfound optimism following the war and occupation.
This is another interesting and important set from Andante. It showcases the Vienna Philharmonic in live performances led by three conductors who had significant relationships with the orchestra in the post-war era. Moreover, each conductor is featured conducting major works by composers with whose music they were closely identified.
This, then, is a most important set and one which connoisseurs of conducting will certainly wish to hear. The Karajan performance is interesting to hear....The Böhm performances are extremely distinguished and add to that conductor’s currently available discography. The Mitropoulos is simply unique.
The set comes with the usual lavish, illustrated documentation in English, French and German. It’s not a cheap set and one wonders if by editing out most of the applause for the Karajan performance it could have been accommodated on three CDs. However, if one views it as an investment it’s pretty gilt-edged."
- John Quinn, MusicWeb International
“Conductor Dimitri Mitropoulos stood apart from the European traditions that dominated first-rank American orchestras for much of the twentieth century. After attending the Athens Conservatory, where he studied piano and composition, his opera BÉATRICE was presented there. The French composer Saint-Saëns was in the audience, and was so impressed that he arranged a scholarship that enabled the 24-year-old to study composition with the Belgian composer Paul Gilson and piano with Busoni in Berlin. Busoni persuaded him to abandon composition and concentrate on becoming a conductor.
From 1921 to 1925, Mitropoulos assisted Erich Kleiber at the Berlin State Opera and on Kleiber's recommendation, was appointed conductor of the Hellenic Conservatory Symphony Orchestra in Athens. In 1927, he became conductor of the Greek State Symphony Orchestra and in 1930 was engaged to conduct the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, where he instituted the practice of conducting from the piano.
In 1937 Mitropoulos succeeded Eugene Ormandy as musical director of the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra. He became a U.S. citizen in 1946, and remained in America until 1959. After 12 years in Minneapolis, he was invited to share the conductorship of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra with Stokowski, becoming its conductor when Stokowski resigned in 1950. Mitropoulos resigned the post after sharing the podium with Leonard Bernstein, his co-principal conductor, in the Orchestra's 1958 tour of Latin America. From 1954, he was a dynamic force as Bruno Walter's successor at the Metropolitan Opera, where he introduced many new operas, including ones by Richard Strauss and Samuel Barber.
Mitropoulos never conducted his own works, but considered his best composition to be a Concerto Grosso written in 1929. His lived simply and took little part in social activities. His conducting style was passionate, highly-charged and demonstrative; he had a phenomenal memory and rarely used a baton. He programmed much modern music and particularly admired Schönberg and the Second Viennese School, such as Webern and Berg, as well as twentieth century American and British composers. His recording of Mahler's First Symphony made with the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra in 1941 was the first ever made in the U.S. of that work, and Mitropoulos was awarded the American Mahler Medal of Honor in 1950 for his work in promoting the composer's music. He died while rehearsing Mahler's Third Symphony with Toscanini's famous La Scala Orchestra.”
- Roy Brewer, allmusic.com
"[Böhm had a] natural, essential music-making….the magical ease and naturalness of transition from one tempo to another, the human warmth, the humor, restrained pathos, the aristocratic and refined taste in final ritardandos and the incredible energy of the man."
- Walter Legge, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 5 Feb., 1995