Igor Markevitch - The Deutsche Grammophon Legacy
Issued complete for the first time, this limited edition set 21CD set features Igor Markevitch's Deutsche Grammophon legacy from Berlin, Paris, Prague and New York, made between 1953 and 1965. 'I record so much I forget even my own records!' Markevitch was a prolific recording artist for several labels, principal among them Deutsche Grammophon, HMV/EMI and Philips (Eloquence has also released a new, complementary collection of his Philips legacy). He felt more comfortable in the studio than many of his podium colleagues and viewed recording as the opportunity to bring out aspects of the score which could remain unheard by live audiences. As a polymath, Markevitch turned from composition to conducting after the Second World War, and soon became one of the most in-demand conductors of his day, at home in a vast range of repertoire, equally at home in Classical-era symphonies by Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, Romantic narratives by Berlioz, Wagner and Tchaikovsky, and contemporary Francophone composers such as Milhaud, Honegger and Roussel, bringing to each of them a sharp attack and acute sensitivity to colour and harmony. Nowadays, many conductors follow Markevitch's lead in refusing to specialise: he was a man ahead of his time, and his analytical mind was well suited to the precision of DG's engineering teams. He worked with many of Europe's finest orchestras, enjoying a productive relationship with the Berlin Philharmonic which resulted in many superb recordings from 1953-55, such as a pioneering album of symphonies by Schumann's Swedish contemporary, Franz Berwald. Late in 1956, an invitation to conduct the successor to Toscanini's NBC Symphony, the Symphony of the Air, resulted in lithe and athletic symphonic Beethoven (No. 3) and Brahms (No. 1). Most of Markevitch's DG legacy, however, was made in Paris, with the Lamoureux Orchestra whose fortunes he revived as chief conductor between 1957 and 1961. This relationship produced fleet and graceful, French-accented Beethoven (Pastoral Symphony and overtures) and Brahms (Symphony No. 4) and a superbly cast Damnation of Faust still widely considered as the finest interpretation of Berlioz's 'dramatic legend' on record. Gounod, Bizet, Auber and Debussy receive no less vividly idiomatic treatment. Markevitch was best known internationally as a fiery interpreter of Russian repertoire, represented here by virtuoso pieces of tone-colour and atmosphere from Lyadov, Rimsky-Korsakov, Borodin and Tchaikovsky, including two specialities, Francesca da Rimini and the 'Pathétique' Symphony. He could also galvanise choruses to heights of dynamic response: DG recorded him in Haydn's Creation, Mozart's Coronation Mass (twice, in Berlin and Paris, both reissued here) and the less familiar D minor Requiem of Cherubini and Gounod's Saint Cecilia Mass. Recorded in Prague with the Czech Philharmonic in the early 1960s, these albums became Markevitch's swansong to DG. Featuring original covers and a new essay by Peter Quantrill, this box includes much material long unavailable on CD.