R Strauss: Ariadne auf Naxos
Deborah Voigt, Natalie Dessay, Susanne Mentzer, Richard Margison, Nathan Gunn, John Nuzzo, Eric Cutler, John Del Carlo, Joyce Guyer, Jossie Pérez, Alexandra Deshorties, Wolfgang Brendel, Waldemar Kmentt, James Courtney, Mark Schowalter; Metropolitan Opera Orchestra/James Levine; dir. Elijah Moshinsky (New York, 2003)
'Conductor James Levine’s previous two casts, on Deutsche Grammophon CD and DVD, were going to be hard to equal, but by and large these singers of 2003 are no less worthy of his lustrous support.'
Verdi: Il trovatore
Vladimir Chernov, Aprile Millo, Dolora Zajick, Plácido Domingo, James Morris; Metropolitan Opera Orchestra & Chorus/James Levine
Sony S2K 48070 DDD
'What a superb work this is: the quintessential Italian opera, with its absurd melodramatic plot and its wealth of glorious melody. It receives a fine, full-bloodedly Italianate performance from James Levine and his Metropolitan Opera forces, despite the fact that the international cast contains no Italians.'
Sibelius: Symphony No. 1; Violin Concerto
Shlomo Mintz (violin); Helsinki RSO/Okko Kamu, Berlin PO/ James Levine
DG 449 849-2 ADD/DDD (1973/87)
'Despite the odd rough edge, Okko Kamu’s version of Sibelius’s First Symphony is enormously likeable. The astringency of the string sound and the conductor’s refusal to inflate the emotion results in a performance of great subtlety and integrity.'
Unavailable on Amazon but you can buy this on Ebay
Mozart: Violin Concertos Nos 1-5
Itzhak Perlman (violin), Vienna Philharmonic/James Levine
DG 445 535-2 DDD (1983/86)
'Perlman's collaboration with the Vienna Philharmonic under Levine would be difficult to surpass.'
Wagner: Orchestral Music
The Orchestra of the Metropolitan Opera/James Levine
DG 447 764-2
'The best compliment one can pay these discs is that the voices are not really missed with the music in the hands of such experienced Wagnerian conductors as these two.'
Freya Parr is BBC Music Magazine's Digital Editor and Staff Writer. She has also written for titles including the Guardian, Circus Journal, Frankie and Suitcase Magazine, and runs The Noiseletter, a fortnightly arts and culture publication. Freya's main areas of interest and research lie in 20th-century and contemporary music.