The Art of Dimitri Mitropoulos, Vol. 1 of 2
The first of two four-disc sets issued by Music & Arts, The Art of Dimitri Mitropoulos -- Broadcast Performances 1941-1957 is a fascinating collection of characteristically uncharacteristic repertoire and performances by the charismatic Greek conductor. As befits Mitropoulos the dedicated modernist, the program opens with Berg's violin concerto and ends with a full disc of Busoni's works, including his violin concerto, both concertos played by Joseph Szigeti. As befits Mitropoulos the enthusiast for a wide-ranging repertoire, the set also includes Strauss' "Eine Alpensinfonie," Vaughan Williams' "Tallis Fantasia," and Chausson's "Symphony." And as befits their origins, many of the performances here come from unusual sources; the Beethoven "Third Piano Concerto" with Jean Casadesus, for example, was taped in 1957 in Binghamton, NY.
The performances themselves are totally contradictory and virtually uncategorizable. All of them are both tremendously controlled and terrifically emotional. Mitropoulos' reading of Schumann's "First Symphony" is as overwhelmingly dramatic as his Chausson "Symphony" is unbearably sensuous and his "Alpensinfonie" is explosively volcanic. Though few conductors today lead with anything like the orgasmic energy Mitropoulos brought to the podium, old timers who recall the conductor with fondness and younger listeners looking for a uniquely new experience are urged to at least audition some of the performances from this set.