Your Top 10 Conductors!

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Your Top 10 Conductors!

Post by Lance » Mon May 12, 2008 10:25 pm

Here is a new series I would like to start and it will commence with CONDUCTORS.

List your Top 10 conductors with No. 1 being the most favourite. If you feel so inclined, you might mention why or certain repertoire that is outstanding to your ears/mind.

Mine will follow shortly. They can be historical (deceased) conductors, or still alive, contemporary conductors. Whatever floats your boat. What conductor can you NOT live without on disc or on the concert stage?
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Post by Chalkperson » Mon May 12, 2008 10:48 pm

No Set Order...it's not a horse race...

Kirill Kondrashin
Evgeny Mravinsky
Carlos Kleiber
Eugen Jochum
Tulio Serafin
Rene Jacobs
Sir Charles Mackerras
Osmo Vanska
Claudio Abbado
Fritz Reiner

But this particular ten gives you a lot of superb discs to take with you, in a seperate boat, to your desert island, so repertoire has a lot to do with these particular choices, I think i'm well covered... :wink:
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Post by Lance » Mon May 12, 2008 11:49 pm

Well, I can't seem to answer my own question. I've got to do it in TWO (2) lists, and hope you will understand. Generally, I am taken by conductors who are well known for their work. They got to the top for very good reasons. I learned from them just by listening, and in most cases, it's difficult to select present-day conductors although God knows, they certainly exist. I guess this listing would be your own "dessert island" list. Most of these you will know (and probably agree).

LIST ONE

1. Fritz Reiner - regardless of repertoire, leaves a marvelous impression
2. Dimitri Mitropoulos - never got his due, but a genius of a musician
3. Wilhelm Furtwängler - some of the most impressional Beethoven ever
4. Pierre Monteux - the quiet genius; could paint orchestral colorurs
5. George Szell - like Reiner, tough on musicians, but effective, memorable
6. Serge Koussevitzky - Russian/French repertoire - divine Sibelius
7. Ferenc Fricsay - Another genius in just about everything
8. Evgeny Mravinsky - Some of the most incredible Tchaikovsky ever
9. Vaclav Talich - never have I heard the Czech Philharmonic sound better
10. Thomas Beecham - a superbly imaginative conductor on all counts


LIST TWO

1. Leopold Stokowski - a favourite for a reason; music for the millions!
2. Fritz Lehmann - ah, what Handel, what Bach! Died far too young
3. Hans Rosbaud - brilliant, never really got his due
4. Jean Martinon - extraordinary in French repertoire, most memorable
5. Rafael Kubelik - impeccable Dvorak, so well rounded in repertoire
6. Malcolm Sargent - Refined more than people realize, superb musician
6a. Karl Böhm - Among the best of the "German" school [I cheated here!]
7. Arturo Toscanini - For many, still at the top of the list
8. Adrian Boult - Another true thinking conductor who made it work
9. Ernest Ansermet - Extraordinary Russian/French repertoire
10. Leonard Bernstein - All around, one of the most memorable

Addendum: I must say, certain names like Felix Weingartner, Jascha Horenstein, Eduard van Beinum, Willem Mengelberg, James Levine, von Karajan (in certain cases), Eugen Jochum, Bruno Walter (outstanding Brahms) and some other rank very high on the list. Eugene Ormandy is gaining in my praise of him as time goes on. Rudolf Kempe is supreme in certain repertoire. And then there is Kertesz (whose Dvorak I think is outstanding, in particular). Toscanini still has his followers and nobody can deny his musican genius (or that of Guido Cantelli), nor that of Otto Klemperer (at times). Erich Kleiber and son Carlos have special places (who doesn't in reality?). So, I don't know what I've gained here in trying to determine a list of favourites. One certainly recognizes the genius of each and everyone of these gentlemen. Most of them were from the "old school," and some of the musican "instruction" came directly from the composers, or previously great conductors.
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Post by nadej_baptiste » Tue May 13, 2008 12:34 am

Fun thread :)

Vaguely in order...

Carlos Kleiber
Antal Dorati
Claudio Abbado
Otto Klemperer
Leonard Bernstein
Charles Dutoit
Leopold Stokowski
Sir Colin Davis
Fritz Reiner
George Szell
Lorin Maazel

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Post by Corlyss_D » Tue May 13, 2008 3:20 am

No order:

Adrian Boult
John Barbirolli
Charles Mackerras
David Munrow
Jordi Savall
Nicholas Harnoncourt before he became puckish
John Eliot Gardiner before he went native (19th Century)
Jean-François Paillard
Neville Marriner
Carlos Kleiber

Repetoire drove all my choices: all but 3 are/were influential in EM. The other 3 for specific composers, productions, or recordings.
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Post by Jack Kelso » Tue May 13, 2008 3:38 am

Not being a fan of list-making, this is hard for me. It depends so much on the composer being interpreted, each conductor's repertoire and my mood at the time of listening. Here are some of my current favorites:

1. Riccardo Muti
2. Wolfgang Sawallisch
3. Michael Tilson Thomas
4. Mario Venzago
5. John Eliot Gardner

...and Bruno Walter, Otto Klemperer, Herbert von Karajan(!), Fritz Reiner, George Szell from the past.....

Tschüß!
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Post by Ken » Tue May 13, 2008 5:17 am

My collection is still small relative to that of others on this forum, and my answers will surely change in a few years' time. Here's a list of ten favourites, like others' in this thread, in no particular order:

Wolfgang Sawallisch
Wilhelm Furtwängler
Christoph von Dohnanyi
Karl Böhm
Lorin Maazel
Gustavo Dudamel
Herbert von Karajan
George Szell
Kurt Masur
Pinchas Zukerman (I'm allowed one 'homer' pick)
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Post by PGS » Tue May 13, 2008 6:59 am

1. Toscanini
2. Mitropoulos
3. Kleiber
4. Rosendal (I may be spelling it the wrong way-a Ravel Expert)
5. Abbado
6. Boulez
7. Marriner
8. Maazel
9. Stokowsky
10. Brahms-Maller (for their contribution) I haven't heard a thing as you can imagine...

*this is an edit button add. Furtwängler Can't list hime but he deserves a place in my top ten
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Post by Donaldopato » Tue May 13, 2008 8:05 am

Adrian Boult
Guido Cantelli
István Kertész
Serge Koussevitzky
Charles Mackerras
Evgeny Mravinsky
Eugene Ormandy
Fritz Reiner
Stanislav Skrowaczewski
George Szell

These are the conductors I have turned to time and again for spirited, often definitive performances. Note that I tend to be 'old school".
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Post by Chalkperson » Tue May 13, 2008 8:17 am

I guess it's great to be the Bossman, we get told to list our favourite ten and the Head Honcho lists THIRTY FOUR Conductors... :wink:
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Post by Lance » Tue May 13, 2008 9:26 am

Chalkperson wrote:I guess it's great to be the Bossman, we get told to list our favourite ten and the Head Honcho lists THIRTY FOUR Conductors... :wink:
Can't help it! It's a sickness, a disease, all in the name of great music-makers! It's contagious, one malady I would share! :wink:
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Post by Barry » Tue May 13, 2008 9:45 am

At one time, I could have ranked 1-10, but I really can't any longer. It depends so much on which repertoire I'm in the mood for. But here are ten that I like a lot, not in any order beyond number one (Furtwangler is still tops for me). I'll also add that Sawallisch and Abbado are on there based more on what I've heard from them in the concert hall than on recordings, and Carlos Kleiber and Tennstedt are on there based mainly on recordings of their live performances that I've heard (I strongly prefer Kleiber's live orchestral work to his DG studio recordings):

Furtwangler
Ormandy
Karajan
Bernstein
Sawallisch
Abbado
Jochum
Giulini
Carlos Kleiber
Tennstedt
Last edited by Barry on Tue May 13, 2008 9:50 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Post by Ralph » Tue May 13, 2008 9:46 am

Without ranking:

Toscanini
Masur
Muti
Kleiber
Guilini
Wand
Mehta
Slatkin
Klemperer
Beecham

and I'd probably have a slightly different list tomorrow.
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Re: Your Top 10 Conductors!

Post by Heck148 » Tue May 13, 2008 9:51 am

Lance wrote:Here is a new series I would like to start and it will commence with CONDUCTORS.
these are always hard to complete - top 3, top 10, favorite 5, etc...

overall, my favorites are probably -

Reiner, Toscanini, Solti, Monteux, Bernstein, Mravinsky, Abbado, Szell, Levine, Walter, Stokowski, Martinon, Kertesz - at least for today....tomorrow's list may be different. :)
Last edited by Heck148 on Tue May 13, 2008 11:42 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Cyril Ignatius » Tue May 13, 2008 10:17 am

I don't consider myself fully capable of this task, so take this list with a large grain of salt. And they aren't numbered, because this is not to be taken in any particular order.

HERBERT VON KARAJAN - for his achievements in building the Berlin Phil. and his Beethoven, Brahms Bruckner and Sibelius recordings. And his initiatives to bring CD technology and high caliber film recording into classical music.

EUGENE ORMANDY - for his achievements in building the Philadelphia Symph. and his recordings of standard romantic era music.

KARL BOHM - for his great work with Beethoven, Schubert, Bruckner, etc..

SIR ADRIAN BOULT -

JOHN BARBIROLLI -

THOMAS BEECHAM -

Each of these three for their great conducting with British orchestras and for promoting the music of great British/quasi-British composers such as Edward Elgar, Ralph Vaughan Williams and F. Delius.

LEONARD SLATKIN - for his great endurance and variety.

SIR COLIN DAVIS - for his great Sibelius conducting and overall great recordings.

GEORGE SZELL - for his great achievements and longevity as a conductor.

CLAUDIO ABBADO - for his great work with Berlin, Vienna, Lucerne Festival/Mahler Chamber, and of course his outstanding recordings.
Cyril Ignatius

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Post by jserraglio » Tue May 13, 2008 10:40 am

currently most often listened to . . .
  • rodzinski

    scherchen

    coates

    munch

    stock

    martinon

    tennstedt

    golovanov

    mitropoulos

    sergei/fabien [Kous]sevitzky

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Post by dirkronk » Tue May 13, 2008 10:50 am

My first attempt:

Furtwangler
Mengelberg
Mravinsky
Szell
Reiner
Monteux
Walter
C. Kleiber
Toscanini
Stokowski

A very hard thing and my choice is highly personal. I based selection of first three and last three on distinctive voice & approach (as I read these, of course...aspects I value highly), and the middle four on their invariably powerful, pleasing yet "middle-ground" interps of almost all repertoire. Frankly, the last two are listed more as a nod to their importance in helping me establish my musical taste early on than as conductors I often listen to now.

Other "distinctive voice/approach" conductors I rate highly: Talich, Scherchen, Leibowitz, Markevitch, Silvestri, Klemperer.
Other "middle-ground" conductors I rate highly: Fricsay, Koussevitzky, Mitropoulos, Cantelli, van Beinum, Cluytens, Dorati, Beecham, Munch, Skrowaczewski.

As you see, I have a very deep "bench."
:wink:

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Post by Chalkperson » Tue May 13, 2008 12:11 pm

There is one name I wanted on my list but I opted for Mackerras instead, because of his Opera output, and call me nuts but this guy made some really great recordings...most of which are now at Super Budget price...

Andre Previn...
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Post by dirkronk » Tue May 13, 2008 1:31 pm

Chalkperson wrote:There is one name I wanted on my list but I opted for Mackerras instead, because of his Opera output, and call me nuts but this guy made some really great recordings...most of which are now at Super Budget price...

Andre Previn...
Nothing nuts about it, IMO. I may not have shortlisted him above, but Previn's great in Rach symphonies...Prokofiev Kije, R&J (though I prefer Maazel), assorted symphonies...and his Mahler 4th with Ameling and the Pittsburgh on EMI may seem an odd choice to someone who hasn't heard it, but it unblushingly occupies shelf space with my copies of Szell, Reiner and other more "typical" conductors.

Cheers,

Dirk

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Post by Ken » Tue May 13, 2008 2:07 pm

A couple of people have listed only "Kleiber" in their lists... Should I automatically assume you're talking about Carlos, or are there any votes for Erich?

Also, where's the love for Zukerman? ;)
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Post by slofstra » Tue May 13, 2008 2:07 pm

Chalkperson wrote:I guess it's great to be the Bossman, we get told to list our favourite ten and the Head Honcho lists THIRTY FOUR Conductors... :wink:
:lol: :lol: Yeah, I like how Lance has a "6" and a "6a".

I'll study in depth later. Let's see - Canadian conductors. :)

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Post by Ken » Tue May 13, 2008 2:08 pm

^ Canadian conductors, eh? Mario Bernardi!
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Post by Chalkperson » Tue May 13, 2008 2:27 pm

dirkronk wrote:Nothing nuts about it, IMO. I may not have shortlisted him above, but Previn's great in Rach symphonies...Prokofiev Kije, R&J (though I prefer Maazel), assorted symphonies...and his Mahler 4th with Ameling and the Pittsburgh on EMI may seem an odd choice to someone who hasn't heard it, but it unblushingly occupies shelf space with my copies of Szell, Reiner and other more "typical" conductors.
And some great Shostakovich, as well as Mendelssohn's Midsummers Night's dream, his Mozart Exultate Jubilee, the Saint Sains Piano Concertos, Rodrigo and more...
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Post by slofstra » Tue May 13, 2008 2:28 pm

keninottawa wrote:^ Canadian conductors, eh? Mario Bernardi!
Yeah, he's good. Just need nine more. Bramwell Tovey. 8 more.

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Post by Chalkperson » Tue May 13, 2008 2:36 pm

keninottawa wrote:A couple of people have listed only "Kleiber" in their lists... Should I automatically assume you're talking about Carlos, or are there any votes for Erich? ;)
Maybe those who wrote Kleiber used it as a way of getting eleven conductors on their lists, I certainly enjoy Erich's recordings as much as Carlos's...there is a Borodin CD with Father and Son both performing Borodin's Second Symphony...

http://www.arkivmusic.com/classical/alb ... _id=118900
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Post by Ken » Tue May 13, 2008 5:28 pm

^ I've seen that one, but it isn't one of the six recordings of the work that I have -- I think I'm going overboard on the Borodin Second... Hey, it's at least good to know that others (e.g., the Kleibers) share my enthusiasm for the composer.
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Post by Seán » Tue May 13, 2008 5:39 pm

Lance wrote:
5. Rafael Kubelik - impeccable Dvorak, so well rounded in repertoire
Kubelik with the BRSO great Mahler recordings too.


Terrific thread Lance. It's a pity that all posts do not include the body of work in which the chosen conductors excel.
Seán

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Post by stenka razin » Tue May 13, 2008 6:24 pm

Here is my list. It would take a very long time to do this carefully, so, here it is off the top of my head.

1-Toscanini

2-Bernstein

3-Stokowski

4-Beecham

5-Karajan

6-Barbirolli

7-Reiner

8-Szell

9-Furtwangler

10-Monteux


P.S. I forgot Klemperer...................... :idea: :!:
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Post by Bro » Tue May 13, 2008 6:30 pm

Tullio Serafin
Joseph Krips
Ernest Ansermet
Oscar Fried
Felix Weingartner
Robert Craft
Clemens Krauss
Eugene Jochum
Richard Strauss
Karl Ristenpart

[edit] No Soviets (I prefer my music made in the free world) and no Karajan !


Honorable mention : Celibidache, Toscanini, Walter, Klemperer, Bernstein, Mitropoulus, Rosbaud, Stravinsky. ect..ect...


Bro

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Post by Chalkperson » Tue May 13, 2008 7:56 pm

and let's not forget the great Karel Ancerl... :shock:
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Post by Barry » Tue May 13, 2008 8:28 pm

Chalkperson wrote:and let's not forget the great Karel Ancerl... :shock:
I gave him a quick thought when trying to decide who to close out my list with, but in spite of having a few recordings by him that I like a lot, I couldn't justify putting him on a list of 10.
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conductors

Post by SONNET CLV » Tue May 13, 2008 9:14 pm

There are four conductors whose albums I tend to purchase for their names rather than for the composers' or even the works played, and they be the following:

Yevgeny Mravinsky
Wilhelm Furtwängler
Sergiu Celibidache
Leonard Bernstein

Each of these conductors thrills with individualistic interpretations, many of which are quirky, but which generally tend towards the astounding and memorable.

I also value many others (Antal Dorati, William Steinberg, Charles Mackerras, Georg Solti, Marin Alsop, Rico Saccani, Robert Shaw ...) too numerous to recount, but the four listed above continue to increase in my collection as I seek out their discs specifically in a somewhat expensive hobby where I tend towards purchasing new and unfamiliar works to stocking up on another interpretation of an old war horse. But if I must have another war horse, let it be from Mravinsky, Furtwängler, Celibidache, or Bernstein. Bravo! Bravo!

--SONNET CLV--

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Post by Chalkperson » Tue May 13, 2008 9:49 pm

Barry wrote:
Chalkperson wrote:and let's not forget the great Karel Ancerl... :shock:
I gave him a quick thought when trying to decide who to close out my list with, but in spite of having a few recordings by him that I like a lot, I couldn't justify putting him on a list of 10.
It's OK, he did not make my original ten either, I picked Serafin instead, but after everybody else chimed in he was one of the few not mentioned...
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Post by Wallingford » Tue May 13, 2008 9:59 pm

Well, irrevocably, my list has a tie for the top 2 positions: TOSCANINI and BEECHAM.

Below them, in no real order:
SERGE KOUSSEVITZKY
EUGENE ORMANDY
PIERRE MONTEUX
ANTAL DORATI
SIR ADRIAN BOULT
ERNEST ANSERMET
ARTUR RODZINSKI

......and in last place? Maybe Krips, maybe Bernstein, maybe Karajan, maybe Munch, maybe N.Jarvi, maybe etc., etc., etc.
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Post by Harold Tucker » Tue May 13, 2008 10:02 pm

Twelve that I caught in person
Tennstedt
Giulini
Stokowski
Bernstein
Kondrashin
Temirkanov
Muti
Boult
Gielen
Mackerras
Szell
Norrington
Honorable mention
Schippers
Rudolf
Celibidache
Twelve who taught me a lot on recordings:
Furtwangler
Toscanini
Walter
Beecham
Barbirolli
Reiner
Klemperer
Munch
Mravinsky
Kubelik
Monteux
Boulez

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Post by slofstra » Tue May 13, 2008 11:11 pm

My list doesn't go back so far as I'm still so young. :)

Abbado - Mendelssohn
Bernardi - Canadian composers
(2) Bernstein - wide range
Best - choral works
Fricsay - German composers
Gardiner - Bach
(3) Gergiev - Russian composers
(1) Haitink - wide range
Rattle - Elgar, Walton
(4) von Karajan - Beethoven, Smetana

Missed the cut:
Davis, Colin - Haydn, Mozart, opera
Jarvi, Neeme - Tubin
Ormandy - wide range
Reiner - Mussorgsky, Dvorak
Szell - Mahler

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Post by mickey » Tue May 13, 2008 11:14 pm

tough...

ormandy = for his work with the philadelphia orchestra and his vast recordings

dutoit = for his orchestration, may his years with philadelphia be fruitful

sawallish = was responsible for my first exposure to the philadelphia orchestra

von karajan = vast collection of recordings, notably his beethoven symphonies and his strauss tone poems

de waart = for championing the work of John Adams with the San Fran. Orchestra

boulez = love his debussy recordings

tortelier = his dutilleux output is stellar and for that alone he is up here

kertesz = for his dvorak symphonies

kondrashin = for his shostakovich symphonies

bohm = for his mozart symphonies
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Shostakovich: Cello Concerto || Adams: Harmonelehre || Dutilleux: Symphony No2 "Le Double" | Part: Cantus in Memorium of Benjamin Britten

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Re: conductors

Post by Chalkperson » Tue May 13, 2008 11:36 pm

SONNET CLV wrote:There are four conductors whose albums I tend to purchase for their names rather than for the composers' or even the works played, and they be the following:

Yevgeny Mravinsky
Just checking here, you have his re-issued, re-mastered, re-released Melodiya Recordings of Shostakovich, as a 5cd Set to comemmorate his 100th Birthday, I assume.. 8)

You listen to that Celibwhatever guy..I never could figure him out, Sinopoli, his worshiper, I could enjoy, but the man himself, no way... :wink:
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Post by GK » Tue May 13, 2008 11:44 pm

Based on the number of outstanding recordings--

Karajan
Ormandy
Solti
Bernstein
Maazell
Klemperer
Abbado
Reiner
Bohm
Haitink

val
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Post by val » Wed May 14, 2008 7:14 am

Although it depends on the repertory I would mention:

Wilhelm Furtwängler (Beethoven, Wagner, Bruckner)

Arturo Toscanini (Beethoven, Brahms, Verdi)

Bruno Walter (Mozart, Brahms, Mahler)

Fritz Reiner (Beethoven, Mahler, Bartok)

Karel Ancerl (Stravinsky, Janacek, Dvorak)

Eugen Jochum (Haydn, Bruckner, Brahms)

Evgueni Mravinski (Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev, Shostakovitch)

Karl Böhm (Schubert, Wagner, Richard Strauss)

Georges Szell (Haydn, Mozart, Prokofiev)

Herbert von Karajan (Beethoven, Sibelius, Richard Strauss)

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Post by piston » Wed May 14, 2008 7:52 am

Chalkperson wrote:No Set Order...it's not a horse race...

Kirill Kondrashin
Evgeny Mravinsky
Carlos Kleiber
Eugen Jochum
Tulio Serafin
Rene Jacobs
Sir Charles Mackerras
Osmo Vanska
Claudio Abbado
Fritz Reiner

But this particular ten gives you a lot of superb discs to take with you, in a seperate boat, to your desert island, so repertoire has a lot to do with these particular choices, I think i'm well covered... :wink:

Many points in common, Chalkie. Concerning Kondrashin: any conductor who can step in at the last minute to conduct a Mahler symphony, without the benefit of a single rehearsal, and do so to the general satisfaction of the audience has got to be pretty outstanding. Unfortunately this remarkable achievement may have triggered the heart attack which took his life.....

I wonder if members are selecting their top ten composers on the basis of the same, identical attributes or based on an individual's most remarkable characteristics. Surely, Leonard Bernstein's passion is worth a mention in a "top ten" list.

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Re: conductors

Post by SONNET CLV » Wed May 14, 2008 10:17 am

Chalkperson wrote:Yevgeny Mravinsky ...
Just checking here, you have his re-issued, re-mastered, re-released Melodiya Recordings of Shostakovich, as a 5cd Set to comemmorate his 100th Birthday, I assume...)

You listen to that Celibwhatever guy..I never could figure him out, Sinopoli, his worshiper, I could enjoy, but the man himself, no way... :wink:

I take it that the collection you refer to duplicates recordings already found in the two boxes (20 CDs total) of "The MRAVINSKY Edition", which I am fortunate to already have. I treasure the Mravinsky Tchaikowsky and Shostakovich symphonies, which have long been favorites for play on my hi-fi equipment, but the "Edition" features a wide variety of works which show the conductor in many "lights". It's a classic edition, for sure. Too bad the fellow doesn't smile more.
Image

I'll admit that Celibidache (Chel-ee-bee-DOC-kay) remains an acquired taste, the conductor's performances being so outre, to put it mildly. However, because he shunned studio recording, you tend to always get the energy of a "live audience" recording with this conductor. I, for one, tend to applaud along with the audience following the performance. Too, one generally needs a bit of extra time for listening to the Romanian's interpretations since he tends to stretch an average-length symphony to a bit longer than average-length. Still, Celibidache has a way to presenting every note in highlight, a strange yet compelling manner of presentation that makes one hear even the most familiar works in a totally new way. Some may criticize the conductor's work as distortion, but Celibidache rather strikes my ears as a conductor committed lovingly to his music so that each and every note written has significance and meaning. I spent my listening session last evening with Celibidache's reading of Bruckner's Third Symphony (with the Munich Philharmonic on EMI), and I do not regret a single minute of the time invested. Wonderful stuff!
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Post by Chalkperson » Wed May 14, 2008 10:30 am

piston wrote:Many points in common, Chalkie. Concerning Kondrashin: any conductor who can step in at the last minute to conduct a Mahler symphony, without the benefit of a single rehearsal, and do so to the general satisfaction of the audience has got to be pretty outstanding. Unfortunately this remarkable achievement may have triggered the heart attack which took his life.....
Do you have Kondrashin's Mahler Box, he did not record the Second or the Eighth but once you get used to the fast speeds it is very enjoyable, I had never heard Russians playing Mahler before, Mravinsky adored Mahler and Bruckner but only recorded Bruckner's Eighth and Ninth...and there is also a Mahler Set from Gennadi Rozhdestvensky but I do not own it...
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Re: conductors

Post by Chalkperson » Wed May 14, 2008 12:22 pm

SONNET CLV wrote:I take it that the collection you refer to duplicates recordings already found in the two boxes (20 CDs total) of "The MRAVINSKY Edition", which I am fortunate to already have. I treasure the Mravinsky Tchaikowsky and Shostakovich symphonies, which have long been favorites for play on my hi-fi equipment, but the "Edition" features a wide variety of works which show the conductor in many "lights". It's a classic edition, for sure. Too bad the fellow doesn't smile more.
No, there are symphonies not in those boxes, I have not digitalized the new box yet, and there is a Warner/Erato Box that is relatively new, when I get home tonight I will crosscheck the three boxes and let you know which are the new additions...
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Post by slofstra » Wed May 14, 2008 9:34 pm

Piston,

On Kondrashin: He took the post of Permanent Guest Conductor of Amsterdam's Concertgebouw Orchestra in 1978 and remained in that position until his death (March 7, 1981). He died in Amsterdam from a heart attack on the day after he conducted the Norddeutscher Rundfunk.

On Eduard van Beinum: Van Beinum suffered a massive, fatal heart attack on April 13, 1959 on the Concertgebouw podium while rehearsing the Orchestra for a performance of Johannes Brahms' Symphony No. 1

The parallels are uncanny.

And Jansons and Chailly are two Concertgebouw conductors who have suffered heart attacks although in different circumstances than the above.

A morbid topic to bring up, but when I read your bit I remembered coming across these others.

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Post by Lance » Wed May 14, 2008 10:16 pm

I find it most interesting that Otto Klemperer doesn't seem to figure much on anybody's listings. Other than a powerful Beethoven #6, I often find his performances stodgy and slow. It would seem after he had his brain tumour operation, he heard things much differently in his mind. But he was, nonetheless, considered a master conductor.

Henry mentioned Leonard Bernstein. Yes, a most passionate conductor, one of the "showmanship" variety. He was a highly gifted musician, conductor, composer, pianist. Still, he doesn't seem to rank that high either among collectors, even those who know his work from live performances. If nothing else, he leaves an indelible impression with his work.
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Post by sfbugala » Thu May 15, 2008 12:12 am

In no particular order:

Bernstein
Ormandy
Karajan
Klemperer
Walter
Bohm
Beinum

Haitink (well, the early years)
Chailly
Robertson

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Post by RebLem » Thu May 15, 2008 2:44 am

1. George Szell--For me, Szell towers over everyone else. His signature qualities as a conductor were his attention to detail without sacrificing a sense of structure and the long line. He was peerless at bringing out the inner, quieter instrumental voices in a piece, and his sense of pulse and accent kept the music moving along. He was a superb orchestral trainer. He was one of the last of the great conductors whom one associates mostly with only one orchestra--in his case, Cleveland--whose music director he was from 1946 until his death in 1970. Even today, after many changes, and with perhaps not a soul remaining in that orchestra who worked under Szell, one can still hear his influence under good leadership. He worked extraordinarily well with piano soloists--Robert Casadesus, Leon Fleisher, Rudolf Serkin, and Gary Graffman. And finally, there is the extraordinary breadth of his "specialties," which included, first of all, the entire core classical and romantic German repertoire, Dvorak, and Strauss. Favorite recordings: the Casadesus Mozart piano concerto series, the Symphonies 35, 39, 40, and 41, the Posthorn Serenade, the Haydn Symphonies 93-99, the Beethoven and Brahms Piano Concerti with Leon Fleisher, the Beethoven symphonies, the Schubert Symphonies 8 and 9, the Mendelssohn Italian Symphony, the Schumann symphonies, the Brahms symphonies, the last three Dvorak symphonies and the Slavonic Dances, his two CDs of Wagner bleeding chunks, the Bartok Piano Concerto 1 with Serkin, and the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto 1 and Prokofiev Piano Concerti 1 and 3 with Gary Graffman.

2. Fritz Reiner--A great Strauss and Bartok specialist, Reiner was, like Szell, a superb orchestral trainer. He established the Chicago Symphony Chorus, the first fully professional American symphony chorus, and it grew and prospered under the incomparable direction of Margaret Hillis, whom he chose to lead it. The first recording he did with the Chicago Symphony, Ein Heldenleben, remains one of the great recordings of that piece, and his first Also sprach Zarathustra is generally considered the one to have if you are having only one, as are his recordings of Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra and Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta. He and his friend, Josef Szigeti, secretly put up the money for the Boston Symphony to commission Bartok to write the work that became the Concerto for Orchestra. He personally delivered the commission to Bartok in the hospital, and kept the source of the money a secret. Remember that the next time you hear a scurrilous tale about what a tyrant he was. HIs weakness, though, was that he didn't have any taste for sets of things, with the result that when he died, indeed, many years later, when Solti took over in the 1970's, the CSO was the only one of the Big Five American orchestras without a set of either the Beethoven or Brahms symphonies on the market.

3. Claudio Abbado--Like Szell, Abbado is hard to beat for sheer breadth of repertoire. His style is unmannered. Abbado prefers to stay in the background and let the music speak for itself. He is equally at home in the opera house and the symphony orchestra, and works well with soloists. For a starter, get his two disc set of Stravinsky ballets. Also, the first two Bartok Piano Concerti with Maurizio Pollini and the Chicago Symphony, and his Schubert Symphonies box.

4. Wilhelm Furtwangler--Furtwangler was a controversial conductor because of the times in which he lived and the choice he made to stay in Germany through the Nazi era. Some love his work and the man as well, others despise the man and have various opinions about his work. While I respect those who, like Fritz Busch, were outspoken critics and left the country to work elsewhere, I am among those who respect Furtwangler's choice to remain in Germany, to keep something of the best of German culture alive during that horrible time. But if you listen to the fury and anger of his March 22, 1942 Beethoven 9th, or the quite different Marcia funebres from the Eroicas of December, 1944, and November, 1952, you will come to understand something of how his choices--and his countrymen's--affected him, and that he was not a musician indifferent to everything but his art. The 1944 Marcia funebre plumbs the depths of despair; the 1952 version is a requiem not only for the 12 million who died in the camps and the millions others who died in combat, but for the honor of two generations of Germans as well. Furtwangler was a master of Beethoven, Schumann, Brahms, and Strauss. Forget his Haydn, which is unbelievably turgid.

5. Leonard Bernstein--Usually, those who like Szell don't like Bernstein. Szell certainly didn't like him, but then what are we to make of the fact that he got an A in Reiner's conducting class at Curtis? And his personality! To the general public, he was an urbane, sophisticated man about town. To people he knew well, he was often a real pain in the ass. In my opinion, his Beethoven and Brahms (except for his two magnificent performances of the Missa Solemnis) are eminently forgettable. But, his Haydn Paris Symphonies, his Schumann Symphonies set, the first to use Schumann's original orchestrations, his Sibelius Symphonies set, which revived interest in a worthy composer whose star had been fading, and, perhaps above all, his Mahler Symphonies sets (particularly the one with NYPO) brought Mahler to wide public attention and acclaim for the first time, and were definitive performances for a generation, are a monument to his talent and insight. Some say his Mahler performances are still the best, though I have come to prefer the Segerstam and Kubelik sets. But the crucial historical importance of Bernstein in bringing Mahler to a wider public cannot be underestimated. And then, of course, there are his own works, of variable quality, to be sure, but nevertheless impressive at their best, especially, in my opinion,his Mass.

6. Otto Klemperer--Associated as he is today with the great classics of the core Germanic repertoire, some forget, or never even know, that Klemperer started out as an opera conductor in various theaters, in charge of performing revivals of nearly forgotten and secondary works, and later, in the period of the Weimar Republic, as a conductor or avant garde theater pieces. He was also a student of Mahler's, and his tall, impressive look attracted the attention of his mentor's wife, Alma, a woman whose libidinous tendencies are the stuff of legend. She propositioned him once; Klemperer, a man of truly Puritanical sensibilities, rejected her, but, his biographer said, he delighted in listeing to Tom Lehrer's song ALMA later in life. He left Germany in 1933 while the leaving was good, and came to Los Angeles, where he became music director of the LAPO. In 1939, he was misdiagnosed with a brain tumor, and had brain surgery, which left him partially paralyzed. The excision of a section of his brain combined with his long standing bipolar disorder to make his behavior highly erratic. For the rest of his life, he was occasionally found wandering the streets, amnesic, with no apparent knowledge of who or where he was. But, after the war, he wandered Europe for a decade and a half, ending a three year stint as director of the Budapest Opera in 1950 because he could not abide the interference of the new Communist regime. He mostly functioned as a guest conductor until 1959, when Walter Legge made him conductor of the Philharmonia Orchestra and they started making the series of recordings which constitute most of his legacy today. Somehow, although he had been a student of Mahler, he never did a complete symphonic cycle, but his Resurrection is especially notable as one of the great glories of the catalogue. HIs Beethoven Symphonies set, especially 3 & 4, in my opinion, are considered classics, as is his Brahms Symphonies set. His Fidelio is widely considered to be the first one to have, including by this reviewer. Many also admire his Missa Solemnis. He did a Schumann Symphonies set, which is, to say the least, variable. The Rhenish is slow, plodding, and a textbook example of Klemperer at his worst; OTOH, hw Fourth is absolutely brilliant. Also noted for his Strauss, his Metomorphosen, to me, is the greatest performance of that work ever committed to disc. His performances of the last two Mozart symphonies are magnificent, too. EMI has released a set of most of his Mozart symphony recordings, which are highly recommendable. He recorded # 40 twice, and the one included in the set is the earlier, monoaural one, which is superior to the stereo remake, which shows that someone with taste and discernment was in charge of the project. The Jupiter is taken entirely too slowly. but even this fault is a benefit to our understanding of the work, because the slowness of it clarifies, for me at least, the polyphonic structure of the last movement as no other performance does. And another advantage Klemperer's approach has is that, although it is big orchestra, modern instrument Mozart, he uses divisi violins. This does make a difference in the stereo recordings. EMI has also realeased a box of his Haydn symphony recordings, which contains a number of fine performances, especially the Military and # 102.

7. Pierre Monteux--Monteux is almost always spoken of in superlatives, both as a conductor and as a man. He always maintained discipline, but with a light, humorous, and generous hand. He had exacting standards, and the most amiable of personalities. He conducted a number of world premieres, most famously of Stravinsky's Le sacre du printemps (1913), but also Petrushka (1911), Debussy's Jeux (1913), Ravel's Daphnis et Chloe (1912), and Prokifiev's Third Symphony (1929). He established a conducting school, which operated in various venues, including San Francisco and his home in Hancock, Maine, where he also served for a time as the chief of the town's volunteer fire department. Among his students were Lorin Maazel, Neville Marriner, Andre Previn, and David Zinman. Among his best recordings are the Beethoven Symphonies 4 & 6, Franck's D Minor Symphony (Chicago Symphony), the Brahms Second Symphony and Violin Concerto with Henryk Szeryng and the London Symphony, the last 3 Tchaikovsky symphonies and Le sacre du printemps with the Boston Symphony, and numerous works by French composers.

8. Karel Ancerl--Ancerl was born in 1908, and his conducting mentor was Hermann Scherchen. From 1933-39, he conducted for the Prague Radio. During WWII, he managed to survive both Terezin and Auschwitz, but lost his family. Back in Prague after the war, he continued his musical career and from 1950-1968 was the music director of the Czech Philharmonic. Virtually all his famous recordings were made during this period. I expecially admire his Smetana Ma Vlast, the Dvorak Symphonies 6 & 9, a Prokofiev disc he made with the Classical Symphony, the short cantata, They Are Seven, and the best performance I have heard of the First Piano Concerto with Ivan Moravec. His 1968 Mahler Ninth is also superb; shortly after that, though, he escaped the Soviet crackdown in his country by emigrating to Canada, where he was music director of the Toronto Symphony until his death in 1973.

9. Christopher Hogwood--Hogwood is a conductor, heyboardist, and musicologist. One of his current projects is to complete the publication of a critical edition of all the works of C.P.E. Bach by 2014. He founded the Academy of Ancient Music, which has become one of the leaders in the period performance and recording movement, in 1973. He recorded every scrap of music that Mozart arguably wrote to be included in a symphony, including four different version of the Symphony # 31. It is an incredible 19 CD set, and his recordings of the late symphonies especially, are absolutely magnificent.

10. Carlo Maria Giulini--Giulini was another one of those conductors equally at home in the concert hall and the opera house. He was not much of a scholar, but was known as a maginficent performer given to slow tempos and clear textures, and an amiable, easy going temperament that enabled him to work with vocal soloists of the most mercurial sort. His recordings of Mozart's Marriage of Figaro and Don Giovanni are classics, and his Verdi Don Carlos is generally considered the greatest performance of that opera on record. He also recorded La Traviata with Callas. He had a long association as a guest conductor, for a long period as principal guest conductor, of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. I personally probably attended more concerts conducted by Giulini than by any other conductor. Among his great recordings with the CSO are Pictures at an Exhibition and a fine Mahler 9th. His Mozart Requiem with the Philharmonia Orchestra is probably the finest of the non-OIP, non-HIP traditionalist performances of the work. Among the other performances I remember are a wonderful Schumann Das Paradies und die Peri. I also remember that a live performance of the Pictures at an Exhibition I attended just before he recorded it with the CSO was even better than the recording. The touchstone for me in this work is the Ballad of the Little Chicks in their Shells, which I like to sound very onomatopoeic. The concert performance was. The recording isn't. Although the performance was, I believe, recorded, don't ever expect it to be released. The reason is that it was a Friday matinee concert which the CSO used as an opportunity for one of its outreach programs, and lots of not well disciplined schoolchildren were in attendance. You get the picture.

Posted on May 15, 2008. RebLem
Last edited by RebLem on Thu May 15, 2008 3:29 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Jack Kelso » Thu May 15, 2008 3:17 am

RebLem----I agree with most of the above, so here are a few of my own opinions.

From what I've heard from him up to now, I very much enjoy Sir Roger Norrington's fresh and dynamic approach to the Austro-German repertoire.

The ONLY Szell Schumann symphony I find outstanding is the First. He doesn't let the other three breathe as well as I feel they should. In other words, more than I handful of contemporary conductors have delved deeper into this music's dramatic and poetic content. Now, Giulini's "Rhenish" (with the L.A.Phil.) is superb....and Muti is also wonderful in all four. Agreed: Klemperer is marvelous only with the Fourth.

For Haydn it's Beecham and Münchinger for me; Mozart is still open, although I like Böhm, but he's a bit staid. Beethoven, Schumann, Bruckner, Brahms and Tschaikowsky have many, many fine interpreters. Those I play "by ear". Giulini or Karajan (Vienna) clearly for the Brahms First!

I don't care for Barenboim in almost everything---he should have stayed at the piano.

Georg Solti can irritate me when I feel he's "pushing" the music too hard, if you know what I mean. His Elgar affects me that way. Often he doesn't let the poetic feeling come through his hard-hitting phrases. Many of his interpretations lack heart, soul and subtlety (at least for me!). But he's great with Wagner.

Tschüß!
Jack
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Post by Lance » Thu May 15, 2008 10:21 am

A very fine and thorough analysis of your conductors, RebLem. I don't know that I agree with everything you say, and I'm sure not everyone would, but your comments make one think a little deeper. I believe first impressions upon hearing a recording are often the ones that stay with the listener the longest, especially if the listener knows the repertoire well. I personally like Szell and Bernstein, but would give Szell the edge and he would always be in the Top 10. Szell, like Reiner, was a no-nonsense, non-showmanship conductor. And Monteux, as you have cited, seems to never have garnered negative criticism, or at least not much. He was the "gentleman conductor" and for me, his recordings never fail to please or offer some newly discovered detail. To this day I acquire Monteux's recordings with great enthusiasm. Giulini, too, was in the highest league, but I didn't show him as a Top 10 contender for reasons I haven't arrived at yet.

And you know, the Boston Symphony is still considered one of the top orchestras in the world. Under Serge Koussevitzky, despite mono recordings, he brought a sound to the BSO which is unmatched to this day. I think of his second RCA recording of the Sibelius Symphony No. 2, among the finest I have ever heard. I often compare it to Szell's Philips recording, which, in the last two movements don't compare in drama and intensity to Koussevitzky's. At the conclusion of the Koussevitzky, the thought is ... and then there was light. It is as though the world was born. It is incredible that a piece of plastic (LP or CD) can have this kind of effect on the human brain!
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