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View Full Version : Colin Davis passes today at 85.



Itullian
April 15th, 2013, 12:54 AM
A great conductor.
Thank you Maestro.

Jephtha
April 15th, 2013, 04:07 PM
Very sad. He was certainly one of the great conductors. I especially admired his Mozart interpretations, which managed to combine a singing, legato line(even in non-vocal works)with a sharply incisive rhythmic sense, a combination that is rarely successful. He was also quite advenurous in his casting: who else would have had the imagination and good sense to cast Caballe as Fiordiligi! I learned Les Troyens from his old recording on Philips, and his Berlioz is still wondrous to my ear. R.I.P., good sir.

Herkku
April 19th, 2013, 04:30 PM
Yes, sit tibi terra levis, Sir Colin! You had an enormous impact on my musical awareness, starting with a Symphonie Fantastique that I still listen to (and later much more Berlioz), encompassing the Così mentioned above (and La Clemenza), Sibelius, Handel's Messiah, Britten's Grimes and so much more. You shall be remembered with affection!

Walther von Stolzing
June 4th, 2013, 09:46 PM
Oh no! This is the first I've heard of this! I was just listening to his Messiah this past Christmas and thinking how wonderful it was. I'm sad to hear it.

Jephtha
June 4th, 2013, 11:09 PM
Oh no! This is the first I've heard of this! I was just listening to his Messiah this past Christmas and thinking how wonderful it was. I'm sad to hear it.

Yes, Davis was one of my favorites, especially his earlier work from the 1960's and 1970's, prior to his going to the continent. Somehow his work never seemed as fresh after he started working in Munich and Dresden.

Which Messiah, the London or the Munich?

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
June 5th, 2013, 01:46 AM
Yes, Davis was a champion for one of my favorite operas, Les Troyens.

Hoffmann
June 5th, 2013, 12:04 PM
Yes, Davis was one of my favorites, especially his earlier work from the 1960's and 1970's, prior to his going to the continent. Somehow his work never seemed as fresh after he started working in Munich and Dresden.

Which Messiah, the London or the Munich?

If it was anything like East Berlin in the 1970s, I don't imagine there was much that was very fresh in Dresden, either. :scared2:

Walther von Stolzing
June 5th, 2013, 06:01 PM
Yes, Davis was one of my favorites, especially his earlier work from the 1960's and 1970's, prior to his going to the continent. Somehow his work never seemed as fresh after he started working in Munich and Dresden.

Which Messiah, the London or the Munich?

The classic recording with the London Symphony Orchestra. I wasn't even even aware he recorded one in Munich.

Jephtha
June 5th, 2013, 06:42 PM
The classic recording with the London Symphony Orchestra. I wasn't even even aware he recorded one in Munich.

That's the great one, the London. Absolute perfection.

This is the Bavarian recording:


http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41iNFGegmiL.jpg

It can't hold a candle to the London performance. Worthy as the soloists are, none of them are on best form, saving Margaret Price, who sings like an angel. And once you are used to the crisp energy and exhilarating ornamentation of the earlier recording, the Munich set just is not competitive.

Walther von Stolzing
June 6th, 2013, 02:36 AM
That's the great one, the London. Absolute perfection.

This is the Bavarian recording:


http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41iNFGegmiL.jpg

It can't hold a candle to the London performance. Worthy as the soloists are, none of them are on best form, saving Margaret Price, who sings like an angel. And once you are used to the crisp energy and exhilarating ornamentation of the earlier recording, the Munich set just is not competitive.

Ah. Good to know.

I'm trying to think what other recordings of his I really like. Like Almaviva mentioned, he championed Les Troyens and his recording of that opera with the LSO that's quite good. Oh, and then his complete Sibelius cycle with the Boston forces...

Jephtha
June 6th, 2013, 03:44 PM
I'm trying to think what other recordings of his I really like...

I have always admired his Mozart opera recordings for Philips. Figaro and Don Giovanni, especially, are excellent, and I think his first Idomeneo (with George Shirley, not the later set with Francisco Araiza) is arguably the finest version ever recorded. Here are the sets in question:

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http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/61Rt8s6CzuL._SL500_SY300_.jpg

The Cosi cast is Montserrat Caballe, Fiordiligi; Janet Baker, Dorabella; Ileana Cotrubas, Despina(excellent); Nicolai Gedda, Ferrando(terribly off-form here); Wladimiro Ganzarolli, Guglielmo and Richard van Allan, Don Alfonso. Zauberflöte is Margaret Price, Pamina; Luciana Serra, Queen of Night; Peter Schreier, Tamino; Mikael Melbye, Papageno; Kurt Moll, Sarastro and Theo Adam, Speaker.

Of all the sets, Idomeneo and Titus are perhaps my favorites. I think the Singspiele are the least successful, though Abduction does have the cruelly under-recorded Christiane Eda-Pierre as Konstanze, and Flute has Kurt Moll in gorgeous, sonorous form as Sarastro. Unfortunately, Davis' conducting in the German works is rather superficial and unidiomatic in Abduction, and phlegmatic and devoid of magic in Flute, at least to my ear. When I worked at Tower Records in my younger years and a customer asked for a Don Giovanni recommendation, I would always give them the Giulini for an all-round excellent version, with the Davis in reserve for those who prefer the accent on the giocoso in this work. Interestingly, while I think the Abduction is overall a noble failure, it has the finest recorded Pasha Selim in Curd Jürgens, whose sensitive and deeply human approach to the character is quite moving. But who gets Abduction for Selim?

Jephtha
June 6th, 2013, 07:54 PM
Whoops! Almost forgot this one:



http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/61QR48G5%2BAL._SS500_.jpg



Impresario is just OK, let down mainly by the shallow-toned and wiry singing of Ruth Welting as Madame Herz(she's the one who goes to top F several times). But Lo sposo deluso is absolutely brilliant. It is a twenty-minute fragment with a rather silly text, but it is nearly top-drawer Mozart, and if he had completed it, I believe it would have been as great as the three da Ponte works, musically speaking at least. The cast on this recording are ideal, with the under-recorded Clifford Grant in great, blustery form as the pompous 'sposo' of the title. Felicity Palmer in her soprano days makes a hilariously haughty Eugenia, a part Mozart wrote for Nancy Storace, the first Susanna, and Ileana Cotrubas is a charming minx as Bettina, a role intended for Katharina Cavalieri, the first Konstanze. Robert Tear is sly and contemptuous as Pulcherio; I swear you can actually hear the sneer in his voice. Anthony Rolfe Johnson, in one of his first recordings, is wonderfully witty: his bouncing acacciature in the final quartet always make me smile. And Davis' conducting is energetic and incisive, as it usually was in the 1970's.

Soave_Fanciulla
June 7th, 2013, 06:00 AM
But who gets Abduction for Selim?

On DVD I find that I need a really good Selim who delivers the words with great expression and thought. The best Selim is the incomparable Matthias Habich who makes the character a nuanced and fully fleshed out individual. I can pretty much recite along with him.

Jephtha
June 7th, 2013, 03:39 PM
On DVD I find that I need a really good Selim who delivers the words with great expression and thought. The best Selim is the incomparable Matthias Habich who makes the character a nuanced and fully fleshed out individual. I can pretty much recite along with him.

When Curd Jürgens gives the captives their freedom and tells Belmonte it is a far greater pleasure to meet evil with good than to take revenge(I'm paraphrasing), I dissolve into helpless tears. In St. Louis in the 1980's, the Selim was played by a young local actor who was half-African-American and absolutely gorgeous. Belmonte was the usual pudding-bodied tenor, and we in the audience were incredulous that Konstanze could choose this dolt over the stunningly handsome man who was practically begging her to be his wife. I think this is a problem that crops up in many Entführung productions. There should be a law that Belmonte can only be portrayed by singers with Jonas Kaufmann-type looks or better! :)

Soave_Fanciulla
June 7th, 2013, 07:44 PM
When Curd Jürgens gives the captives their freedom and tells Belmonte it is a far greater pleasure to meet evil with good than to take revenge(I'm paraphrasing), I dissolve into helpless tears. In St. Louis in the 1980's, the Selim was played by a young local actor who was half-African-American and absolutely gorgeous. Belmonte was the usual pudding-bodied tenor, and we in the audience were incredulous that Konstanze could choose this dolt over the stunningly handsome man who was practically begging her to be his wife. I think this is a problem that crops up in many Entführung productions. There should be a law that Belmonte can only be portrayed by singers with Jonas Kaufmann-type looks or better! :)


There is one production where Selim is played by the lovely Klaus Maria Brandauer and Belmonte by Piotr Beczala. Now Piotr is a good looking guy, but he plays Belmonte as an insufferable arrogant puppy, and I experience a certain amount of incredulity of the kind you describe there too.

Jephtha
June 7th, 2013, 08:31 PM
There is one production where Selim is played by the lovely Klaus Maria Brandauer and Belmonte by Piotr Beczala. Now Piotr is a good looking guy, but he plays Belmonte as an insufferable arrogant puppy, and I experience a certain amount of incredulity of the kind you describe there too.

It is too bad that the spoken dialogue is often cut to the bone. In the original libretto, when Belmonte and Pedrillo are first reunited in Act I, the servant reveals that the Pasha is a 'renegade', in the original sense of the term: an apostate Christian who embraces Islam. We learn that the Pasha is originally a Spaniard, and that Belmonte's father ruined his life back in Europe, forcing him into exile in Turkey, where he reinvented himself as the Pasha Selim. In Act III, the Pasha reveals that Belmonte's father also stole his(Selim's)beloved, and I have often wondered whether she might have been Belmonte's mother. In the Bretzner work on which Abduction is based, at the crucial moment it is revealed that the Pasha is actually Belmonte's father!