C0884. DIMITRI MITROPOULOS Cond. Vienna Philharmonic: Symphony #6 in a – Andante; Symphony #9 in D – Final Movement; w.Cörtse, Zadek, West, Malaniuk, Zampieri, Prey & Edelmann: Symphony #8 in E-flat (all Mahler), Live Performance, 28 Aug., 1960, Salzburg. (Canada) 2–Immortal Performances IPCD 1005. Transfers by Richard Caniell. - 625989619427
“It was a world event, this performance of Gustav Mahler's Eighth Symphony, so called the Symphony of a Thousand, at the Salzburg Festival of 1960, [indeed] the meaning of this concert in 1960, on the hundredth anniversary of Gustav Mahler's birthday, couldn't be overrated in retrospect. This isn't only because of the aura of a one-of-a-kind concert, but by the content itself - the interpretation of Mahler's Symphony of a Thousand under the direction of Dimitri Mitropoulos. This outstanding work was enhanced with a dramatic impulse maybe never again reached.
The young Canadian label, Immortal Performances, puts out this performance again in a quality that clearly surpasses any release you could get before. It's not only because the sound magician, Richard Caniell, didn't much interfere in the original recording…it is the tone of the presentation of this historical recording - so that music lovers can re-experience the proportional dynamics of the concert. In this he succeeded convincingly, one only has to hear the dynamic expansion of the second part of the Veni Creator Spiritus - Imple superna gratia. The care with which the production was created doesn't show only in the sonics, it shows in the well-thought-out composition of the various articles and reaches all the way to the choice of the cover, including the interpretation of the presented motiv used on the cover. On the double CD you can not only find the recording of Mahler's Eighth, but, as well, the slow movement of the Sixth Symphony directed by Mitropoulis (in a recording with the Cologne Rundfunk Symphony Orchestra of 1959) and the final movement of the Ninth Symphony with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra of January 1960. These two highly interesting and very valuable additions are to be found at the beginning of CD-1 so the two parts of the Mahler's Eighth, the Hymnus, Veni Creator Spiritus and the last scene of Goethe's Faust II, are each put on one CD.
Dimitri Mitropoulos, who paved the way for Gustav Mahler's symphonies on the recording, proves in this legendary performance to be an outstanding conductor. The compelling power of this performance is by itself breathtaking….Especially it is astonishing how Mitropoulos binds together this gigantic, colossal masterpiece with well-thought-through and sensitive dramaturgy, and devises highlights and keeps the tension going also in the quiet and silent sections….Besides the visionary compression of this monstrous dimension into a well-displayed dramaturgy, it is foremost a vital rubato that Mitropoulos' interpretation distinguishes. And in the added movements of the Sixth and Ninth Symphony, Mitropoulos follows the energy waves of the music in a highly sensitive way and keeps the tempo flexible within a phrase, so that he can react in the most lively way to the changing tension. So this gives the performance a one-of-a-kind vitality. At the same time it is hard to believe how Mitropoulos achieved such a flexibility to hold together singers and the orchestra!
Of course, even a very careful sound reconstruction cannot make a historical recording an audiophile treasure: the praise belongs to Richard Caniell, the sound engineer, because of the extensive, outstanding abundance and richness of the sound of this recording. He has achieved this and has produced a document in sound of a breathtaking concert.”
- Tobias Pfleger, Klassik.com, Oct., 2009
“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