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James Levine - Documents Of The Munich Years Vol 4 - Weber

Release Date: 12/14/2004 
Label:  Oehms   Catalog #: 504   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Carl Maria von WeberWolfgang Amadeus MozartAaron CoplandRichard Strauss
Performer:  Martin Spangenberg
Conductor:  James Levine
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 15 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

With Vol. 4 of the series “Documents”, James Levine presents within a CD playing time of 74 minutes – with relatively short pieces – his enormous bandwidth: From Mozart to Copland – 250 years of music history!

During his tenure with the Munich Philharmonic, James Levine was especially able to remain true to his artistic principles: absolute respect for the composer’s ideas and a repertoire so broad, it almost borders the universal. In addition to concrete thematic projects such as the highly praised “Beethoven- Schoenberg Cycle” of the 2002-2003 season, the maestro also performed much of the standard classic-to-late-romantic symphonic literature during his six years in Munich (1999- 2004). He was particularly interested in
Read more introducing southern German audiences to a repertoire many of them were completely unfamiliar: 20th century American works.

Levine’s amazing range is documented here – in what can really only be called a sampling – with relatively short works by Carl Maria von Weber, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Aaron Copland and Richard Strauss. During the 1980s, the conductor said, “I think you shouldn’t record or perform anything you don’t have a real relationship to. On the other hand, you can only improve your relationship to a composition by interpreting it.” One can only be astonished by the fact that Levine’s joy at discovering new composers and works has not diminished. At the same time as he has remained curious about the new, the star – together with his partners in the orchestra – has always remained just as inquisitive about finding something fresh in supposedly old, wellknown works.

Modest to a fault, the best that Levine says about his own performances afterwards is that the composer might have found them “pretty good”. The relationship to the composer is where a conductor first gains his own significance: “You play a Mozart piece in front of an audience who are not professional musicians and don’t have any idea if you’re doing what’s in the score or not, or if that’s the right style for Mozart. But somehow, Mozart, as much of a genius as he was, must have had an inkling of how this work could reach even such people. It follows that it must be possible to create such a performance. That is what I always try to do.”

James Levine goes one step further, however, by subordinating himself to the composer. He feels that a conductor should never feel that his own concept of the piece is better than the creator’s: “The composer should be allowed to make his own mistakes. Nobody is perfect; everyone makes mistakes. But I want to make the composer’s mistakes – not mine. They’re there anyway.” This type of pragmatic realization is reminiscent of a demand made by contemporary musical revolutionary John Cage: “Let us realize once and for all that the lines we draw are not straight.“ A ‘re-creator’ must try to draw these acoustic “crooked lines” as precisely as possible – because the ‘crookedness’ of some compositions can sometimes be grandiose!
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Works on This Recording

Oberon, J 306: Overture by Carl Maria von Weber
Conductor:  James Levine
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1825-1826; Dresden, Germany 
Symphony no 39 in E flat major, K 543 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor:  James Levine
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1788; Vienna, Austria 
Concerto for Clarinet by Aaron Copland
Performer:  Martin Spangenberg (Clarinet)
Conductor:  James Levine
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1947-1948; USA 
Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche, Op. 28 by Richard Strauss
Conductor:  James Levine
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1894-1895; Germany 

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