JAMES LEVINE A Celebration in Music

Celebration in Music
A 60th Birthday Tribute

Werke von / Works by
Bartók · Brahms · Mozart
Prokofiev · Schoenberg · Sibelius
Smetana · R. Strauss · Stravinsky
Webern · Wagner
The MET Orchestra
Wiener Philharmoniker
Berliner Philharmoniker
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Int. Release 27 May. 2003
0289 474 4852 5
DDD 0289 474 4852 5 GB 4

Track List

CD 1: Prokofiev: Symphony No.5 / Bartok: Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta

Sergei Prokofiev (1891 - 1953)
Symphony No. 5 In B-Flat Major, Op. 100



Béla Bartók (1881 - 1945)
Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta, BB 114 (Sz.106)



Chicago Symphony Orchestra, James Levine

Total Playing Time 1:13:48

CD 2: Brahms: Symphony No.1; Mozart: Symphony No.35; Smetana: Overture to "The Bartered Bride"

Johannes Brahms (1833 - 1897)
Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 68

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791)
Symphony No. 35 in D Major, K.385 "Haffner"



Bedrich Smetana (1824 - 1884)
The Bartered Bride, JB 1:100


Wiener Philharmoniker, James Levine

Total Playing Time 1:13:35

CD 3: Sibelius: Symphony No.4; Schoenberg: Verklärte Nacht; Webern: 6 Stücke op.6

Jean Sibelius (1865 - 1957)
Symphony No.4 in A minor, Op.63


Arnold Schoenberg (1874 - 1951)
Verklärte Nacht, Op.4

Anton Webern (1883 - 1945)
Six pieces for orchestra, Op.6

Original version (1909)






Berliner Philharmoniker, James Levine

Total Playing Time 1:20:11

CD 4: Stravinsky: Le Sacre du printemps; Strauss: Tod und Verklärung; Wagner: Prelude & Liebestod (Tristan und Isolde)

Igor Stravinsky (1882 - 1971)
Le Sacre du Printemps

Revised version for Orchestra (published 1947)

Pt. 1: "L'adoration de la terre"



Pt. 2: "Le Sacrifice"

Richard Strauss (1864 - 1949)
The MET Orchestra, James Levine

Richard Wagner (1813 - 1883)
Tristan und Isolde, WWV 90

Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, James Levine

Total Playing Time 1:19:15

Deutsche Grammophon salutes James Levine's sixtieth birthday with a brilliant four-CD set of orchestral music.
This four-disc set from Deutsche Grammophon, paying tribute to James Levine on his sixtieth birthday, is a landmark compilation. Levine's monolithic status as an opera conductor tends to obscure his extraordinary prowess with the symphonic repertoire, even though he has been presenting his own magnificently fine-tuned MET Orchestra in concerts at Carnegie Hall since 1991. This brilliant set of orchestral performances is an exhilarating testament to the slightly less familiar side of Levine's artistry; it also reminds us that, apart from the Met, Levine has had long associations with the Chicago Symphony and the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonic Orchestras. Each of these four estimable ensembles gets an entire disc to itself. The first work on disc one -- Prokofiev's mighty Fifth Symphony, performed by the Chicago Symphony -- sets the standard immediately. Prokofiev's opening Andante is a sprawling, majestic movement, but in Levine's hands it's supple, fleet and full of unexpected shapeliness. It has the kind of pacing and dramatic sweep one would expect from a man of the theater, and the climactic passages are electric. In the Scherzo movement, the lines fly by, but they have subtle contours -- Levine doesn't miss a single detail. The arching melodies of the third movement sound vocal and enticing. This movement can become inert in the wrong hands, but Levine gives it direction and palpable build. The last movement is aggressive without sacrificing taste and refinement. The qualities Levine brings to the Prokofiev are in evidence with everyone from Mozart to Webern. The first movement of Mozart's "Haffner" Symphony, in a performance with the Vienna Philharmonic, provides the same anticipatory excitement that Levine can give to the overture of "Le Nozze di Figaro". The Vienna disc also includes a Brahms First Symphony with enough passion and drama to prevent anyone from describing Brahms as "academic" ever again. The magnificent strings of the Berlin Philharmonic are hyper-responsive to Levine in a gloriously indulgent reading of Schoenberg's "Verklärte Nacht". The subsequent performance of Webern's thorny Six Pieces for Orchestra takes the same post-Romantic approach. Levine squeezes every ounce of beauty out of Webern's concentrated, enigmatic gestures, and the result is unexpectedly exquisite.
Set against heavy-hitters Chicago, Vienna and Berlin, the MET Orchestra does more than hold its own. The breathtaking pacing and utterly convincing unity of concept in the Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan are, of course, no surprise. Levine's "Sacre du Printemps" combines the gleaming clarity of Boulez's with the raw, visceral energy of Bernstein's. In Strauss's "Tod und Verklärung", the working through of the famous big theme in the piece's final section takes the idea of transfiguration to heart; the whole passage glows with serene, unearthly beauty. Not only is this set a revelation, it's a great bargain -- with four discs for less than the price of two -- and it's highly recommended.