This year, the classical music community celebrates centenary anniversaries of three musical titans, composers Jules Massenet (1842-1912) and John Cage (1912-1992), and conductor Georg Solti (1912-1997). The Marvin Duchow Music Library’s audio/video collection provides a great starting point for those wishing to explore their influential contributions. Here are a few recommended recordings to begin the journey.
Jules Massenet: Recently acquired, the Blu-ray version of Manon with Anna Netrebko and Rolando Villazón [DVD 2085] features moving performances and fantastic sonics. On a related note, members of the McGill community can access medici.tv’s streaming video service to see ‘Une Journée à Lyon avec Rolando Villazón,’ a fascinating French film documenting Villazón’s approach to staging Massenet’s Werther.
Reveling in luxuriant mid-twentieth-century European vocal sound and style, Hérodiade [CD 29165] was recorded in 1957 and released in 2011. It stars French diva Andréa Guiot as Salomé, Dutch soprano Mimi Aarden in the title role, tenor Guy Fouché as Jean, and baritone Charles Cambon as Hérode. Four works from Massenet’s piano output are well served in a recent recording by award-winning French pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet [CD 28804].
John Cage: Mode Records, self-described as ‘A record label devoted to New Music,’ has been doing a phenomenal job presenting the music of such progressive luminaries as Feldman, Scelsi, Xenakis, Subotnick, Reynolds, and, of course, Cage. In volume 34 of Mode’s Cage Edition, internationally-lauded pianist Margaret Leng Tan brings her ‘A’ game to the world premiere recording of Chess Pieces (reconstructed from an exhibition painting!) and the classic Sonatas and Interludes for prepared piano [DVD 2171]. Audio excerpts can be heard here.
Georg Solti: Audio recordings of Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro [CD 261] and Mahler’s Symphony no. 2 [in Mahler/Symphonies no. 1-9 – CD 2747] are two of the conductor’s numerous Grammy Award-winning releases. View the complete list here. Solti devotees may also be interested in a couple of DVDs documenting the great conductor’s musical process: Solti, the making of a maestro [DVD 155] and Georg Solti in rehearsal [DVD 924].