BBC Music Magazine
Maestro Munch and the Munich Phil
This month’s round-up also takes in a cello master and Mozart operas
The austere design of Warner’s 13-disc Charles Munch box (Warner Classics 90295611989) perhaps reflects the fact that many of the recordings inside were made in occupied Paris in the 1940s. There are earlier recordings – one from 1935, early in Munch’s conducting career – and much later ones. Indeed, Munch’s final years on the podium are covered, some made mere months before his death in 1968. The programme is varied, featuring works by Lalo, Honegger, Bloch and Jolivet alongside the expected big hitters.
Munch also features in Gregor Piatigorsky – The Art of the Cello (Sony 19075832132), which is more Aladdin’s Cave than box set. Lifting the lid reveals 36 discs of mainly chamber recordings from the last 32 years of the cellist’s career, many with Jascha Heifetz and Artur Rubinstein. Munch presides over the Boston Symphony on two recordings, including Richard Strauss’s Don Quixote (which Piatigorsky once performed under the composer’s own baton). Original LP artwork is a welcome touch and one that Sony can be relied upon to do well – this has all the benchmarks of a high-quality release.
To mark 40 years (in 2019) of its creative partnership with René Jacobs, Harmonia Mundi brings together three Mozart operas he recorded between 1998 and 2006. The Da Ponte Trilogy (Harmonia Mundi HMX 2908801.09) takes in operas with libretti by Lorenzo da Ponte – The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni and
Così fan tutte. Presented across nine discs, this is very much about Jacobs; his face adorns every sepia-toned cover, from the exhaustive booklet to the bonus disc of librettos.
Celebrating 125 years is the Munich Philharmonic, which presents 125 (Müncher Philharmoniker MPHIL0011). The 17-disc collection takes in the highlights of some 65 years of recordings from 1953 to 2018. The granitelike colouring of the outer box opens to reveal a rainbow of colour, which is reflected in the music as well. Under the baton of conductors such as Eugen Jochum, Zubin Mehta, James Levine, Christian Thielemann and Valery Gergiev, we are treated to big works by the big names – a Beethoven symphony here, a Mozart opera there.
The Piatigorsky box has all the benchmarks of a high-quality release