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Excitement of Hearing 20th Century’s Renowned Conductors Once Again

Excitement of Hearing 20th Century’s Renowned Conductors Once Again

Posted March. 27, 2002 09:22,   


Memorable performances of the 20th century’s 60 renowned conductors are to be resurrected through a complete 120-volume set of `2for1`s (2 pieces for the price of 1). It is a gigantic `alliance` project of the world’s major classic labels, such as EMI, DG, Decca, Philips, and RCA.

Beginning with Czech’s master conductor Karel Ancerl, `Great Conductors Of 20th Century` has recently published 15 volumes as its 1st series. All of the 60 titles are to be successively put on sale by the year’s end.

Model of the project was `Series of Great Pianists` produced by Philips in 1999. Being completed by gathering musical resources from major labels into a complete set of 74 pianists, this project won a Gramophone Award in the same year.

Apart from Ancerl, the masters that embroidered the first 15 volumes include Ernest Ansermet, John Barbirolli, Andr Cluytens, Ferenc Fricsay, Erich Kleiber, Sergej Kussewitzky, Igor Markevitch, Eugene Ormandy, Bruno Walter, etc. On contrast with such famous figures, there is also a number of unfamiliar names like Ataúlfo Argenta, Fritz Busch, and Carl Schuricht.

Although he led Philadelphia Orchestra and left the legend of `Ormandy Sound`, Ormandy received rather stingy recognition after his death. His performance of Rachmaninov’s 2nd Symphony overwhelms listener’s auditory sense with burning-hot tones. Ancerl’s 8th Symphony of Dvorak, Barbirolli’s `Resurrection` of Mahler, and Walter’s `Pastorale` of Beethoven will also surprise music fans.

It is difficult to define that great performances of the past are absolute performances. There is an increasing voice in the present music market saying that overly highlighted performances of the past are reducing the new energy. In spite of so, the past’s masterpieces that survived through the heavy resistance of time are certainly worthy of re-valuation. That is why more and more ears are listening to the old masters in the midst of many great performances of the digital generation.

Yoon-Jong Yoo gustav@donga.com