OP2758. OEDIPUS REX (Stravinsky), recorded 1983, w.Colin Davis Cond.Bayerischen Rundfunks Ensemble; Jessye Norman, Thomas Moser, Siegmund Nimsgern, Alexandru Ionitza, Michel Piccoli, etc. (Germany) Orfeo C 071-831, w.Elaborate Libretto-Brochure. Final copy!
“Sir Colin Davis, the magisterial conductor whose career with the London Symphony Orchestra spanned over half a century had always dreamed of being a conductor, [but] his rise in the profession was not swift. His skill on the piano was wanting, as was, he admitted, his desire to play it. He was appointed as assistant conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony in 1957 after three attempts for the job. By his own admission, he was hot-headed and short-tempered in his younger years, and his relationships with musicians and musical organizations early in his career were often tempestuous. Though he made his début with the London Symphony in 1959, it would be decades before he truly made his mark. In 1965, the London Symphony turned him down as chief conductor. For the next several years, first as chief conductor of the BBC Symphony, then as music director for the Royal Opera House, his career advanced slowly.
It was not until 1992, with his masterful interpretation of the Sibelius cycle with the London Symphony, that his authority became apparent and his fame began to spread. Three years later, he was made principal conductor of the London Symphony, a position he held until 2006, when Valery Gergiev took his place. His mark on the institution was indelible. He championed Sibelius and Berlioz, whose major works he conducted in full with the London Symphony in 1999 and 2000. He also revived Mozart as a symphonic mainstay after a long absence. In 1997, he took the London Symphony to New York to conduct its first residency at Lincoln Center. He was principal guest conductor of the New York Philharmonic from 1998 to 2003. He received two Grammy awards for his recording of Berlioz’s LES TROYENS with the London Symphony Orchestra in 2002, and another in 2006 for Verdi’s FALSTAFF.
Toward the end of his life, Sir Colin had become something of a sage in the world of classical music, wont to puff on his pipe and knit in quiet introspection. ‘Conductors’, he once said in an interview with THE NEW YORK TIMES, ‘are paid to think, and that’s what the job should be about: sitting at home thinking, what is this piece? How can I set it up to sound its best and live on, because there’s nothing to replace it with just yet? This is what absorbs the mind. Especially in old age’.”
- Michael Schwirtz, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 14 April, 2013
“A prominent American soprano, Jessye Norman won the Munich Competition in 1968, leading to her operatic debut as Elisabeth in Wagner's TANNHÄUSER in Berlin. A major European operatic career quickly developed: she appeared as Meyerbeer's L'Africaine at Maggio Musicale in Florence in 1971, Verdi's Aïda at La Scala in Milan in 1972, and as Cassandra in Berlioz's LES TROYENS at London's Covent Garden the same year. These roles are all princesses and bespeak a major part of her stage persona, a commanding and noble bearing, partly due to her uncommon height and size. But this is even more a function of her unique, rich, and powerful voice. She has an uncommonly wide range, encompassing all female voice registers from contralto to high dramatic soprano.
She made an extensive North American concert debut in 1976 and 1977, but did not appear in opera in the United States until 1982. This was with the Opera Company of Philadelphia, in a double bill as Dido in Purcell's DIDO AND AENEAS and Queen Jocasta in Stravinsky's OEDIPUS REX. Her Metropolitan Opera debut was as Cassandra in 1983, the opening night of the Met's centennial season.
In addition to the direct and emotionally expressive qualities of her singing, her performances also impress through formidable intellectual understanding of the music and its style, as well as first-rate musicianship. She studies the languages of the music she sings, and has been acclaimed in her singing of Mussorgsky songs in the original Russian, in the German Romantic lieder repertoire, and in French music from Berlioz to contemporary composers.”
- Joseph Stevenson, allmusic.com