Solti Centenary Concert

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COMPOSERS: Bartók; Mozart; Strauss; Verdi; Mahler; Sousa
LABELS: Arthaus Musik
ALBUM TITLE: Solti Centenary Concert
WORKS: Bartók: Concerto for Orchestra; Mozart: Pieces from Le Nozze de Figaro, The Magic Flute & Don Giovanni; Strauss: Don Juan; plus works by Verdi, Mahler & Sousa
PERFORMER: Angela Gheorghiu, Tereza Gevorgyan, Matilda Paulsson, Roberto Gómez-Ortiz, Ross Ramgobin, René Pape; World Orchestra For Peace/Valery Gergiev


In one sense, this is as much a record of an occasion as of a concert, though the music-making is top class throughout. Filmed live at Chicago’s Symphony Center on 21 October 2012, which would have been Georg Solti’s 100th birthday, this is essentially a celebration of his brain-child, the World Orchestra for Peace (WOFP). The ensemble draws its talent from the best players in 60 orchestras throughout the world, and now performs under conductor Valery Gergiev.

Valerie, Lady Solti, who remains the orchestra’s patron, acts as host and mistress of ceremonies in this concert with considerable aplomb, drawing connections between the items in the programme and the course of Solti’s career. There are tributes to his memory (and of course his ‘relentless energy’) from such luminaries as Plácido Domingo, René Pape, Angela Gheorghiu, Renée Fleming, Anne-Sophie Mutter and Evelyn Glennie.

Much of the programme, which includes extracts from Mozart and Verdi (Pape and Gheorghiu again), recalls Solti’s prowess as an operatic conductor; the high point here is probably the quartet from Rigoletto, performed by four singers from the Georg Solti Accademia di Bel Canto and conducted by Cristian Macelaru, the 2012 recipient of the Solti Foundation (US) young conductor’s award. Otherwise, a jovial Gergiev presides over the orchestra, either batonless or wielding something the size of a toothpick, and the orchestral meat of the concert is provided by stirring accounts of Strauss’s Don Juan, the Mahler Five Adagietto and a burnished Bartók Concerto for Orchestra played virtually without pause and with a breakneck-paced finale. For an encore, he conducts a roof-raising account of Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever, with the WOFP enlarged by past and current principals from the Chicago Symphony, one of the orchestras with which Solti’s name will always be associated. As an extra we have ‘The Vision of Georg Solti’, a documentary about the ideals of the WOFP through its first 15 years from its inception in 1995. Altogether quite an inspiring package, nicely captured and presented.


Calum MacDonald