Tag Archives: Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra

Wagner: The Ring: Highlights


Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra: Herbert von Karajan: vocal soloists

DG 480 6977: 2CD TPT: 153’55”


Hans Knappertsbusch conducts Wagner: selections

Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra: Hans Knappertsbusch

DECCA 480 7093: 2CD: TPT: 154’28”


reviewed by Neville Cohn


Beethoven wasn’t above double dealing by selling the same composition to more than one publisher, Gesualdo was a double murderer, Mascagni was an enthusiastic fascist –  and Lully ruthlessly trashed the reputations of others as he clawed his way to eminence at the French royal court. But for sheer awfulness, Wagner was in a class of his own.


A serial adulterer, incorrigibly vain, an embezzler, an anarchist, an instinctive ingrate and anti-Semite, he was also a genius. And in this 200th anniversary year of his birth, there are celebrations worldwide to mark this milestone. And in a series of releases in Universal Music’s Eloquence series, Cyrus Meher-Homji has once again done CD enthusiasts proud by pulling a series of splendid musical rabbits out of his hat. One cannot too highly praise these initiatives whereby top ranking recordings, most often originally available on LP, are reissued on CD at competitive prices. They constitute a cornucopia of Wagnerian delights.


For those who prefer to listen to The Ring in small doses as opposed to experiencing the work in full, they could hardly do better than a quite superb 2-CD pack – DGG 480 6977 – featuring von Karajan presiding over singers and the Berlin Philharmonic.4806977_WagnerRingHlts_Cover

Originally recorded in 1968 and 1970, it makes for frankly riveting listening. More often than not, sound quality is exceptional. Throughout, Karajan, as ever  loyal to the printed note, does wonders in eliciting some of the most sheerly satisfying performances from a bevy of Wagnerian stars that one might ever hope to encounter.


Bouquets aplenty to the sound engineers who have done wonders in capturing the Berlin Philharmonic sound. If you purchase no other recordings this year, you will have done yourself proud to have these performances in your record library. Not the least of its many pleasures, is the often exceptional clarity of diction.


Hans Knappertsbusch – known to colleagues simply as Kna – didn’t get on well with that lifelong Wagner fan Adolph Hitler. The latter detested Knappertsbusch’s conducting style and avoided his performances. The loss was his for Knappertsbusch, when on form, did wonders on the podium and he has left a substantial recorded music legacy.  He famously disliked lengthy rehearsals, preferring a minimum of  preparation. Instead, he endeavoured always to obtain a sense of spontaneity from his players, a  risky attitude that occasionally resulted in embarrassment. But when his players were on their mettle, the result could be most rewarding – very!

PACKSHOT 4807093 KnaConductsWagner_Cover

None of these misfires are in this compilation of Wagner orchestral highlights from not only The Ring but also Flying Dutchman, Tannhauser, Parsifal and Tristan und Isolde.  Here are beautifully gauged, finely paced, unhurried, deeply meaniungful accounts of perennial favourites including Flight of the Valkyries and  Forest Murmurs from Siegfried – and the overture and Venusberg music from Tannhauser.

This recording, brimming with good things, is a joy.

Musica Viva 2011


by Neville Cohn


For the first time in fifteen years, Australia will be able to listen to the rare artistry of Sabine Meyer, clarinettist extraordinaire. This superb musician came to worldwide notice after she was voted out – 73 to 4 – by her fellow musicians in the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. It’s widely acknowledged that this had absolutely nothing to do with her musicianship – she is, at best, peerless – but was due to the refusal on the part of her fellow players to tolerate admitting a woman to the ranks of the BPO.  It was their loss; years on, Sabine Meyer is celebrated internationally as one of the very greatest exponents of the clarinet.

 Sabine Meyer

Musica Viva presents this fine musician in ensemble with the Paris-based Modigliani String Quartet. Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet will give Perth concertgoers the opportunity  to savour Meyer’s musicianship. Ian Munro, Musica Viva’s resident composer for 2010, will be represented by his own Clarinet Quintet subtitled Songs from the Bush.

 Ian Munro

Munro is perhaps better known for his skill as a pianist. He will front up with the Goldner String Quartet in his own Piano Quintet as well as the much loved Piano Quintet in A by Dvorak.


Multiple international prize winning pianist Stephen Hough will play Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata as well as Liszt’s Sonata in B minor, two sonatas by Scriabin and his own Broken Branches, a suite of 16 short pieces.

 Stephen Hough

String Quartets have been the backbone of Musica Viva’s presentations since its  inception and we will have the opportunity to listen to Beethoven’s superb Quartet No 16, opus 135 played by the Brentano Quartet which is based in the USA. There will also be works by Mozart and Ian Munro.


Another great favourite of Australian audiences, counter tenor Andreas Scholl, will, as ever, enchant audiences with his unique artistry in music by Purcell and Handel. His program will be presented in association with the W.A.Opera Company. And recorder virtuoso Genevieve Lacey will appear in ensemble with the Concerto Copenhagen in music by Bach, Vivaldi and Telemann.


Brochures with full details of Musica Viva’s 2010 concerts are now available in the foyer of Perth Concert Hall.