Saint-Saëns - Samson and Delilah
Sir Mark Elder conducts the Metropolitan Opera in this performance of Saint-Saëns’ Samson et Dalila. The source of this popular opera is a single chapter in the biblical Book of Judges: Samson, a pre-monarchic leader of the ancient Israelites, fights valiantly against the Philistines, enemies of his people, until Delilah seduces him and shears off his hair, the secret to his superhuman strength. The brevity of this source material did nothing to prevent it from becoming one of the world’s great stories of love (or at least passion)—as well as the archetypal depiction of a man betrayed by an immoral woman. Saint-Saëns’s opera, along with other artistic renderings across multiple genres, has had an important role in the popularisation of this tale. The performance features Elīna Garanča (mezzo), Roberto Alagna (tenor), and Elchin Azizov (baritone), and was recorded at the Metropolitan Opera Hall in New York City, USA, in 2018.
Mahler - Symphony No. 7
The Dutch conductor Bernard Haitink leads the Berliner Philharmoniker in the Seventh Symphony by Gustav Mahler, recorded at The Berliner Filharmonie in 1993. This symphony for a big orchestra premiered in 1908 in Prague under Mahler himself. In a few weeks, the composition was already performed in the Netherlands and Germany, but the audience did not immediately love it. The symphony, consisting of five movements, has a more complicated tonal scheme than Mahler’s earlier symphonies. Two first parts of the symphony, called ‘Nachtmusik,’ are inspired by the night and Rembrandt’s ‘The Night Watch’ painting. The finale of the symphony is the most outrageously exuberant of Mahler's symphonies and ends in a strange but beautiful way.
Brahms - Symphony No. 1, Op. 68
Franz Welser-Möst conducts The Cleveland Orchestra in this performance of Brahms' Symphony No. 1. Few symphonic works have taken longer to come into fruition than Brahms' first. The composer had basic ideas about this work as early as 1855 when he was just 22 years old. It saw numerous revisions before its completion, as Brahms was encouraged by his peers, most notably Clara Schumann and musicologist Philipp Spitta, to press forward despite the fear of living in Beethoven's shadow. Also included in this performance is the U.K. premiere of Jörg Widmann's Flûte en suite featuring soloist Joshua Smith. This performance was recorded as part of the 2014 BBC proms season at The Royal Albert Hall in London, U.K.
Schumann - Märchenbilder, Op. 113
Tabea Zimmermann (viola) and Francesco Piemontesi (piano) performed live at Schinkel Pavillon in Berlin on April 17, 2020. The program features Robert Schumann's Märchenbilder, Op. 113.
Debussy - La Mer
Claude Debussy’s symphonic sketches for orchestra known collectively as ‘La Mer’ evoke a richly varied vision of the sea. The first part (‘De l’aube á midi sur la mer’) calls up a morning and afternoon at sea, the second (‘Jeux de vagues’) echoes the play of the waves, and the third and final part (‘Dialogue du vent et de la mer’) conjures the communing voices of wind and waves. Debussy knew his sea, the Mediterranean, intimately both from childhood visits to Cannes and from his Italian travels later in life.