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Classical CDs

September 17, 2000


Wagner: Love Duets. Deborah Voigt, soprano; Placido Domingo, tenor; Orchestra of Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Antonio Pappano, conductor, EMI. Complementing Domingo's Wagner concerts at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion this month, this CD pairs two of Wagner's most voluptuous love duets, Act III, Scene 3 from "Siegfried," and Act II, Scene 2 from "Tristan und Isolde," the latter containing, incredibly, the first recording of the composer's long-lost concert ending.

J.S. Bach: Transcriptions. Los Angeles Philharmonic, Esa-Pekka Salonen, conductor. Sony. Salonen tries to break down the wall that the period-performance-practice crowd has built between Baroque music and modern symphonic ensembles. And he does so with a most unusual collection of Bach transcriptions by Stokowski, Elgar, Webern, Schoenberg and Mahler, the first time all of them have shared a single disc.

J.S. Bach: Unaccompanied Cello Suites Nos. 1, 2 and 5. Edgar Meyer, double bass. Sony. Though the massive size of his instrument creates huge technical problems in this music, Meyer makes it all sound easy as he tackles half of Bach's monumental cello suites on the double bass.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday September 24, 2000 Home Edition Calendar Page 2 Entertainment Desk 1 inches; 18 words Type of Material: Correction
CD set--The Verdi Limited Edition Box Set (EMI) contains 30 CDS, not three CDs, as indicated in the Sept. 17 Fall Preview list.


Wagner: "Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg." Daniel Barenboim, conductor, 1999 Bayreuth Festival Orchestra and Chorus. Teldec. In the flagship of a large release of Barenboim recordings, this committed Wagnerian adds another of the composer's operas to his catalog, recorded live in the house that Wagner built, the Festspielhaus.

Beethoven: "Diabelli" Variations. Maurizio Pollini, piano. Deutsche Grammophon. Pollini thrives on intellectually and technically challenging late Beethoven canvases like this, a lengthy span of 33 variations on a carefree tune by Anton Diabelli.

L. Bernstein: "White House" Cantata. June Anderson and Barbara Hendricks, sopranos; Thomas Hampson, baritone; London Symphony Orchestra, Kent Nagano, conductor. Deutsche Grammophon. The "White House" Cantata is a posthumous reworking of "1600 Pennsylvania Avenue," the 1976 Broadway musical that closed ignominiously after only seven performances and promptly vanished. Yet bootleg recordings of the show reveal a witty, tuneful, at times deeply moving score, and this concert version may finally redeem what had been the great black hole in Leonard Bernstein's catalog.

"Teresa Sterne." Various Artists. Nonesuch. Now here's a rare bird, an album honoring a record executive from the label that fired her in 1980! As penance for ousting its guiding light in the '60s and '70s, Nonesuch devotes Disc One to recordings of Sterne as a child prodigy pianist made from 1938 to 1951, while including some choice recordings made under her regime at Nonesuch by Paul Jacobs, Joshua Rifkin, Jan DeGaetani and others on Disc Two.

Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 3; solo piano pieces. Arcadi Volodos, piano; Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, James Levine, conductor. Sony. The young Russian pianist whom some dazzled listeners are already comparing to Horowitz now tackles one of the latter's signature pieces live in Berlin at lightning tempos.

"1000: A Mass for the End of Time." Anonymous 4. Harmonia Mundi. For those who haven't had enough of millennium fever yet, Anonymous 4's four female singers offer this ethereal look back at a previous turn of the calendar, a speculative re-creation of an Ascension Mass from late-10th and early-11th century British and French sources.

Shostakovich: 25th Anniversary Edition. Le Chant du Monde. This 15-CD series, coming 25 years after the composer's death, contains electrifying live tapes of symphonies led mostly by Yevgeny Mravinsky, vintage renditions of several quartets, and new, often unusual recordings from Moscow, including the rarely heard, unfinished comic opera, "The Gamblers."

From One Century to the Next: Great Composers of the 20th Century. Pierre Boulez, Charles Munch, Herbert Kegel and others, conducting. Naive-Montaigne. It's foolish to expect a comprehensive survey of 20th century music on three CDs, yet this mini-box actually makes a brave stab at it, focusing on iconoclasts and innovators. Disc One launches the set in the early-20th century ethos of Mahler, Debussy, Sibelius and others; Disc Two revolves around Schoenberg, his disciples, and various Frenchmen; and Disc Three is courageously, sometimes wildly avant-garde.

"Copland the Populist and Modernist." San Francisco Symphony, Michael Tilson Thomas, conductor. RCA Red Seal. Just ahead of Copland's 100th birthday (Nov. 14), here are two recent Tilson Thomas Copland albums--one devoted to tough-minded orchestral works, the other to popular ballets augmented with unreleased material and an interview with the conductor about Copland.


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