Georg Solti; Birgit Nilsson  (BBC Legends 4239)
Item# C0767
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Product Description

Georg Solti; Birgit Nilsson  (BBC Legends 4239)
C0767. GEORG SOLTI Cond. London S.O.: Eroica Symphony #3 in E-flat (Beethoven), Live Performance, 30 Jan., 1967, Royal Festival Hall, London; SOLTI Cond. Covent Garden Orch.: Götterdämmerung – Siegfried’s Rhine Journey; Tristan – Prelude, Act I; w.BIRGIT NILSSON: Tristan – Liebestod (both Wagner), Live Performance, 6 Sept., 1963, Royal Albert Hall, London. (England) BBC Legends Stereo 4239. Long out-of-print, Final Sealed Copy! - 684911423921

CRITIC REVIEW:

“BBC Legends, in partnership with Medici Arts, brought together two superstars of the past century – Hungarian-British conductor Sir Georg Solti and the great Swedish soprano Birgit Nilsson. The mission of these record enterprises aimed to bring outstanding performances from the BBC Radio Archives to a wider public audience, by means of issuing these musical gems onto CD via 20-bit re-mastering. In this second release featuring Sir Georg Solti on the podium, one could fully appreciate the value of such collaborative endeavor in every sense.

This recording was originally scheduled for release to mark the 10th anniversary of Sir Georg’s death in 2007 and to commemorate his 10 years of service at the Royal Opera House, Convent Garden. Sir Georg conducted all these works previously in studio recordings: the ‘Eroica’ with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as part of a complete cycle, while both the Götterdämmerung and Tristan und Isolde operas appeared with the Vienna Philharmonic in separate installments with his then-favorite orchestra. However, the performances captured on the present recording, derived from live concert performances at the Royal Festival Hall on 30th January 1968 (Beethoven) and a Prom concert at the Royal Albert Hall on 6th September 1963 (Wagner) were arguably more spirited than those previously captured from the studios.

Sir Georg’s Beethoven Symphonies had been infamous for their robust energy, and in this version of the Eroica with the London Symphony Orchestra, the very spirit of hope and prosperity culminated this music from beginning till end. There was an element of freshness, together with raw electricity, that distinguished this live recording above the rather more tense studio recording from the late 80s. Here, the full depth and breath of the LSO’s orchestral colors could be compared to the broad range of human emotions. From the mournful dirge in the second movement to the triumphant final notes of the finale, there was an unusual intensity and driving momentum that overtook by command. Take, for instance, the second movement Marche funèbre: it was presented at quite a pace for a slow adagio movement, resulting in a march that sounded more solemn and majestic rather than sad and limp. Listen to how acutely Sir Georg encouraged his LSO strings to articulate the appoggiaturas – uniformly polished and invigorating. Aside from some occasional poorly-tuned brass notes and slight oversight in coordination between players, the level of concentration and understanding Solti had established under his shoulders was superb.

The three Wagner tracks from Götterdämmerung and Tristan were with the Convent Garden Orchestra, the ensemble as it was known then, taken at the Proms in 1963. When the concert from which the recording was derived occurred in 1963, Solti was a couple of years into his tenure at the Royal Opera House. Siegfried’s Rhine Journey offered a lively and multi-faceted account, but it was the Prelude and Isoldes’ Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde that were truly remarkable here. As much as Solti’s meticulousness was apparent, one or two slips notwithstanding, the performance stood out for its richness, angst-ridden atmosphere. Sir Georg Solti and soprano Birgit Nilsson had a special affinity on stage, most notably in their recording collaborations in the operatic oevures by Wagner and Richard Strauss. The Solti RING from Decca, for instance, had been considered by most collectors as the definitive recording document of this four-part epic, and the soprano taking on the phenomenal title role of Brünnhilde in this rendition was Birgit Nilsson herself. The voice of Nilsson was once again heard in this live recording with a sympathetic and passionate accompaniment led by Solti, and it was a great treat for BBC Legends to present Nilsson at the peak of her form. Take note of her ability to ride with the orchestra with great faculty, genuinely touching in the first couple of minutes and then fully liberated in the very final moments of this aria.

The CD had been recorded in satisfactory stereo sound and transferred with care by Paul Baily. Excellent liner-notes also presented by Patrick O’Connor. An unreserved recommendation!”

- Patrick P.L. Lam, Audiophile Audition, 28 May, 2010