C0964. JAMES LEVINE Cond. Met Opera Orch.: Orchestral music from Lohengrin, Die Walküre, Siegfried, Götterdämmerung, Tristan, Die Meistersinger & Parsifal. DG Musical Heritage 5180558. Final copy! - 717794805529
“Levine and his superb musicians play through some of Wagner's most demanding music. We can experience the full, overwhelming weight of the music from TRISTAN AND ISOLDE, with its drawn out passages that seem to cut through to your heart. That style contrasts beautifully with the propulsive ‘Ride of the Valkyries’ which is an absolute stunner here. Finally, there is the sublime, other-worldly music of PARSIFAL that requires an orchestra to play with an odd combination of power and sensitivity.
Levine and the Met Orchestra give fabulous performances of every note on the disc. A more perfect introduction to this music does not exist."
“Conductor and pianist James Levine is one of the powerhouse figures of the classical music scene today.
[After his sensational 1971 début at the Met, in 1973, following the sudden departure of music director Rafael Kubelik over artistic differences, the Metropolitan Opera appointed Levine its principal conductor. In 1975 the position was redesignated music director. Although Kubelik was the first conductor ever to have been given that title at the Metropolitan, he did not remain there long enough to actually exercise the wide responsibilities it implies; Levine was effectively the first music director of the Met. In 1986 his position was further expanded to artistic director, which implies control over all aspects of the stage presentation, not just the music. Levine's tenure at the Metropolitan has been one of the longest such associations between an opera company and its chief conductor, providing the company with one of its greatest and most stable periods. His season planning has been outstanding, and the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra owes its reputation as a world-class ensemble to his leadership.
He began in 1975 to appear regularly at the Salzburg Festival, where his performances of Mozart were highly esteemed, and proved himself an excellent Wagnerian in his appearances at the Bayreuth Festival beginning in 1982. However, his guest conducting availability has been limited: he considers the artistic leadership of the Metropolitan to be a full-time, year-round job. When time allows, he performs as a pianist in chamber music and as an accompanist for singers.
Levine commands a wide repertoire in opera and also in the concert hall, ranging from Bach, Haydn, and Mozart to Iannis Xenakis. He is known for an open and engaging personality, which appears in his rehearsals as well, but this does not prevent him from conducting them with businesslike efficiency. In 1996 the Metropolitan conducted a televised celebration of 25th anniversary of Levine's first performance there in the form of a gala. So many singers agreed to appear that the event lasted over eight hours, conducted entirely by Levine. He has produced a large number of recordings with the Metropolitan Opera and other opera houses, as well as orchestral recordings with the Chicago Symphony and other great orchestras. He is also noted as a pianist who has accompanied many of the world's top vocalists and participated in several chamber music recordings. In 2004, Levine became music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.”
- Joseph Stevenson, allmusic.com