Author Topic: A Conductor for All Seasons  (Read 5004 times)

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Offline jwinter

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A Conductor for All Seasons
« on: August 06, 2012, 09:17:20 AM »
OK, time for another of those silly hypothetical questions.  The boat's about to leave for ye olde desert islande, and all of your CDs of solo & chamber music (not to mention pop music, etc.) are already on board, but there's a wrinkle:
 
You can take as many orchestral recordings as you like.  However, they all have to be with the same conductor.  So, you need to pick someone whose interpretations are deeply satisfying to you, but also someone who covers enough of the repetoire to keep you happy.
 
So, for example, if you pick Lenny, you get to take all of Lenny's recordings, with the NYPO, Vienna Phil, Sony & DG, everything.  But that's all you get.  So if Lenny didn't record a particular piece, you don't get to take it along.  Official released recordings only:  not necessarily limited to the major labels, but something that could be bought legally on CD, not some radio aircheck that you downloaded from some guy who transferred it from his Dads' reel-to-reel tape. 
 
So, who's your pick?
The man that hath no music in himself,
Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds,
Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils.
The motions of his spirit are dull as night,
And his affections dark as Erebus.
Let no such man be trusted.

-- William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

Offline Gurn Blanston

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Re: A Conductor for All Seasons
« Reply #1 on: August 06, 2012, 09:20:29 AM »
Harnoncourt.  :)

8)
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Offline Brian

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Re: A Conductor for All Seasons
« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2012, 09:24:58 AM »
Possibly Lenny, but possibly Charles Mackerras.

Offline Sergeant Rock

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Re: A Conductor for All Seasons
« Reply #3 on: August 06, 2012, 10:03:37 AM »
Someone on the old Gramophone forum asked the same question seven, eight years ago, so I've long thought about this question. No answer is satisfactory. Ideally I'd want someone who's recorded the complete, or near complete works of Mahler, Bruckner and Wagner, but no one has. Since I love the period from roughly 1775 to 1945 the best, it's also impossible to think of a single conductor who covers that period well both in quantity and quality (Szell was superb in everything he did--my ideal conductor--but his recorded legacy isn't as extensive as I'd wish). Bernstein comes close. I love his Haydn and Beethoven, love his performances of 20th century works, and most everything in between...but there's not much Wagner or Bruckner, two demigods in my personal Trinity. Karajan covers Bruckner and Wagner, and there is at least some Mahler (4, 5, 6, 9, DLvdE) plus a smattering of 20th century works. But other than Beethoven, he's fairly weak in the Classical era. Barenboim is much like Karajan, covering a lot of the same territory as Karajan (complete Wagner, Bruckner, for example) and I love his Mozart PC cycles (something which Lenny and Herbie never did). But there's no Sibelius, which weighs heavily against him.

So, Barenboim, Karajan or Bernstein...

I suppose I'd pick Karajan again (like I did years ago). The extensive opera repertoire (Verdi, Puccini, Mozart, Strauss, etc) tips the scales in his favor.

Sarge
the phone rings and somebody says,
"hey, they made a movie about
Mahler, you ought to go see it.
he was as f*cked-up as you are."
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Offline George

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Re: A Conductor for All Seasons
« Reply #4 on: August 06, 2012, 10:03:57 AM »
Tough call, I wanna say Ormandy or HvK for breadth....

Ok, Szell.
"I can't live without music, because music is life." - Yvonne Lefébure

Leon

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Re: A Conductor for All Seasons
« Reply #5 on: August 06, 2012, 10:04:41 AM »
Harnoncourt.  :)

8)

This could also be my choice, but I think I'm, going with Christopher Hogwood.

The Raven

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Re: A Conductor for All Seasons
« Reply #6 on: August 06, 2012, 10:15:49 AM »
Abbado

Online mc ukrneal

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Re: A Conductor for All Seasons
« Reply #7 on: August 06, 2012, 10:27:37 AM »
Someone on the old Gramophone forum asked the same question seven, eight years ago, so I've long thought about this question. No answer is satisfactory. Ideally I'd want someone who's recorded the complete, or near complete works of Mahler, Bruckner and Wagner, but no one has. Since I love the period from roughly 1775 to 1945 the best, it's also impossible to think of a single conductor who covers that period well both in quantity and quality (Szell was superb in everything he did--my ideal conductor--but his recorded legacy isn't as extensive as I'd wish). Bernstein comes close. I love his Haydn and Beethoven, love his performances of 20th century works, and most everything in between...but there's not much Wagner or Bruckner, two demigods in my personal Trinity. Karajan covers Bruckner and Wagner, and there is at least some Mahler (4, 5, 6, 9, DLvdE) plus a smattering of 20th century works. But other than Beethoven, he's fairly weak in the Classical era. Barenboim is much like Karajan, covering a lot of the same territory as Karajan (complete Wagner, Bruckner, for example) and I love his Mozart PC cycles (something which Lenny and Herbie never did). But there's no Sibelius, which weighs heavily against him.

So, Barenboim, Karajan or Bernstein...

I suppose I'd pick Karajan again (like I did years ago). The extensive opera repertoire (Verdi, Puccini, Mozart, Strauss, etc) tips the scales in his favor.

Sarge
I started putting together my thoughts, but you cover it nearly perfectly for me (though Barenboim is less interesting for me). I think Karajan would probably be my choice too (love his opera too and quite a nice range), though Mackerras is one I would consider as well. He did some opera (Mozart, Janacek), but lack of Verdi (in original language), Wagner and Puccini is probably a no-go for me. Solti is another possibility. He has your big three (though I know you are less happy with his Wagner than others). He's got some other great stuff like Mozart operas, some Tchaikovsky operas, and Carmen, and he has done some Bach, Haydn, Mozart, so there would not be a total lack of that period (though I'd miss a total lack of Donizetti).  Abbado and Davis (Colin) also came to mind.
« Last Edit: August 06, 2012, 10:29:18 AM by mc ukrneal »
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Offline Sergeant Rock

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Re: A Conductor for All Seasons
« Reply #8 on: August 06, 2012, 10:38:33 AM »
Solti is another possibility. He has your big three....

I completely forgot he recorded a Bruckner cycle. I probably forgot because it's not very good  :D

But seriously, you make a good case for Solti. I don't really dislike anything I've heard (I could live with his Bruckner...if I had to) and many things I really love that neither Bernstein nor Karajan covered (like the Elgar symphonies and Violin Concerto, and the Berg Violin Concerto). I may have to rethink my choice. Wait....no Sibelius. Arrrrgghhhh! A deal breaker.

Sarge
the phone rings and somebody says,
"hey, they made a movie about
Mahler, you ought to go see it.
he was as f*cked-up as you are."
                               --Charles Bukowski, "Mahler"

Offline Brian

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Re: A Conductor for All Seasons
« Reply #9 on: August 06, 2012, 10:57:50 AM »
I completely forgot he recorded a Bruckner cycle. I probably forgot because it's not very good  :D

But seriously, you make a good case for Solti. I don't really dislike anything I've heard (I could live with his Bruckner...if I had to) and many things I really love that neither Bernstein nor Karajan covered (like the Elgar symphonies and Violin Concerto, and the Berg Violin Concerto). I may have to rethink my choice. Wait....no Sibelius. Arrrrgghhhh! A deal breaker.

Sarge
Mackerras only has the Sibelius Second... I may have to switch conductors to get the Fifth.

But my problem is: who has a Sibelius Five and one or two works by Janacek? That limits me to Horenstein, Jarvi, and Rattle.

Which... is it not truly incredible that only three conductors have recorded both Sibelius Five and some Janacek?? Even Karajan and Ormandy have no Janacek listed! I'm using ArkivMusic, so maybe I'm missing something, but how is it that Jarvi and Rattle are effectively the only conductors with both Janacek and Sibelius central to their repertoire?

Now I'm thinking this is impossible, cuz I'm clearly gonna have to choose between two of my faves.

I'm also a bit annoyed Lenny and Mackerras never did Shosty's Tenth. Would it be insane to contemplate a vote for Kurt Sanderling? Beethoven concertos with Gilels and Richter, ravishing Bruckner 7, full cycles of Sibelius and Shostakovich and Brahms. Hmmm. Maybe Sanderling is a bit too crazy. Starting to think Ormandy again.

This is haaaard!

Offline Todd

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Re: A Conductor for All Seasons
« Reply #10 on: August 06, 2012, 11:00:10 AM »
Giulini.
The universe is change; life is opinion.   Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Offline Sergeant Rock

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Re: A Conductor for All Seasons
« Reply #11 on: August 06, 2012, 11:02:32 AM »
This is haaaard!

No shit!   :D  A major problem for me is how to get Vaughan Williams, Sibelius, Nielsen, Wagner, Mahler and Bruckner in one....can't be done. Bernstein comes closest...at least there are some Lenny recordings of VW, Wagner and Bruckner...not nearly extensive enough though.

Sarge
« Last Edit: August 06, 2012, 11:04:41 AM by Sergeant Rock »
the phone rings and somebody says,
"hey, they made a movie about
Mahler, you ought to go see it.
he was as f*cked-up as you are."
                               --Charles Bukowski, "Mahler"

Online mc ukrneal

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Re: A Conductor for All Seasons
« Reply #12 on: August 06, 2012, 11:08:54 AM »
I completely forgot he recorded a Bruckner cycle. I probably forgot because it's not very good  :D

But seriously, you make a good case for Solti. I don't really dislike anything I've heard (I could live with his Bruckner...if I had to) and many things I really love that neither Bernstein nor Karajan covered (like the Elgar symphonies and Violin Concerto, and the Berg Violin Concerto). I may have to rethink my choice. Wait....no Sibelius. Arrrrgghhhh! A deal breaker.

Sarge
That (Sibelius) doesn't bother me too much, but I had forgotten Elgar Symphonies. Karajan doesn't have those. And Solti has more Shostakovich.

I thought of another who might be a possibility - Haitink. He's got the big three, but lacks Sibelius (and has less opera than Karajan). Though perhaps he redeems himself with a Vaughan Williams and Shostakovich Cycle?
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Offline Brian

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Re: A Conductor for All Seasons
« Reply #13 on: August 06, 2012, 11:11:21 AM »
No shit!   :D  A major problem for me is how to get Vaughan Williams, Sibelius, Nielsen, Wagner, Mahler and Bruckner in one....can't be done. Bernstein comes closest...at least there are some Lenny recordings of VW, Wagner and Bruckner...not nearly extensive enough though.

Sarge

My shopping list would include:
- The Beethoven symphs (must be very good)
- Brahms 4
- Sibelius 5 (+ 6 and 7 ideally)
- some Janacek

...which somehow leaves me with only one conductor ever to choose from: Simon Rattle. And I don't want Simon Rattle, so I have to start giving stuff up.

My three finalists are Mackerras, Ormandy, and Bernstein. I think. If I could somehow convince the Desert Island Customs bureau that the Mackerras Sibelius symphony cycle is authentic and I didn't just paste pictures of his head over Lenny's, that would be the solution.

Online mc ukrneal

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Re: A Conductor for All Seasons
« Reply #14 on: August 06, 2012, 11:13:32 AM »
No shit!   :D  A major problem for me is how to get Vaughan Williams, Sibelius, Nielsen, Wagner, Mahler and Bruckner in one....can't be done. Bernstein comes closest...at least there are some Lenny recordings of VW, Wagner and Bruckner...not nearly extensive enough though.

Sarge
Davis fills that except for Wagner, where you'd be stuck with his Lohengrin reminding you how you left the rest for dust! :)  Though, you'd get a chance to listen to his Berlioz.
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Offline Sergeant Rock

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Re: A Conductor for All Seasons
« Reply #15 on: August 06, 2012, 11:21:45 AM »
That (Sibelius) doesn't bother me too much, but I had forgotten Elgar Symphonies. Karajan doesn't have those. And Solti has more Shostakovich.

I thought of another who might be a possibility - Haitink. He's got the big three, but lacks Sibelius (and has less opera than Karajan). Though perhaps he redeems himself with a Vaughan Williams and Shostakovich Cycle?

Glad to see you're doing my thinking for me, Neal  ;D

Haitink:

Wagner (at least the Ring and Tannhaüser)
Mahler
Bruckner
Elgar (although no Violin or Cello Concerto that I know of)
Vaughan Williams (my favorite cycle after Boult...a huge plus)
Shostakovich
Debussy (great performances!)
Liszt (a good to great cycle)
but Nielsen and Sibelius...zip  :'(
Some great Mozart operas: my favorite Grimes (wrong...that would be Davis but Haitink ain't bad), a lovely Strauss Daphne, Fidelio, Jenufa  :o....but yeah, otherwise not that extensive.

Still, after Karajan, I might go with Haitink

Sarge
« Last Edit: August 06, 2012, 11:29:39 AM by Sergeant Rock »
the phone rings and somebody says,
"hey, they made a movie about
Mahler, you ought to go see it.
he was as f*cked-up as you are."
                               --Charles Bukowski, "Mahler"

Offline Lisztianwagner

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    Classical Music; Wagner, Liszt, Mahler, Beethoven, Rachmaninov, J. Strauss, Tchaikovsky, R.Strauss, Ravel, Sibelius, Chopin, Holst, Prokofiev, Debussy, Respighi, Shostakovich, Janáček and Dvořák. And many more......
Re: A Conductor for All Seasons
« Reply #16 on: August 06, 2012, 11:22:09 AM »
My choice would be certainly Herbert von Karajan, although, what a pity he didn't record more Mahler's music.....
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Offline Sergeant Rock

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Re: A Conductor for All Seasons
« Reply #17 on: August 06, 2012, 11:30:26 AM »
My choice would be certainly Herbert von Karajan, although, what a pity he didn't record more Mahler's music.....

I'm shocked, Ilaria, shocked by your choice  :D

Sarge
the phone rings and somebody says,
"hey, they made a movie about
Mahler, you ought to go see it.
he was as f*cked-up as you are."
                               --Charles Bukowski, "Mahler"

Offline Archaic Torso of Apollo

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Re: A Conductor for All Seasons
« Reply #18 on: August 06, 2012, 11:53:52 AM »
I thought of another who might be a possibility - Haitink. He's got the big three, but lacks Sibelius (and has less opera than Karajan). Though perhaps he redeems himself with a Vaughan Williams and Shostakovich Cycle?

Haitink would be my choice, for all the reasons you mention. Plus, I generally like his “objective” approach and think it would wear well for repeated listenings. The downsides are the lack of Sibelius, major Czech composers, and contemporary or American music.
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Offline Cato

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Re: A Conductor for All Seasons
« Reply #19 on: August 06, 2012, 11:56:00 AM »
Certainly controversial, but considering his championing of new (at the time) music, I would think good ol' Leopold Stokowski must be considered. 

And his contemporary Arturo Toscanini!

Came across this: John Adams on Stokowski vs. Toscanini:

http://operachic.typepad.com/opera_chic/2010/03/john-adams-on-what-made-stokowski-cooler-than-toscanini.html

Rafael Kubelik anyone?  Again a champion of new music (e.g. Karl Amadeus Hartmann) and his Mahlercycle on DGG in the 60's and 70's was excellent.

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