MAHLER: Symphony No. 1 in D "Titan"
Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra / Riccardo Chailly, cond.
ACCENTUS DVD TT: 62:24 + 24:07 bonus

BRUCKNER: Symphony No. 1 in C minor
Dresden Staatskapelle / Christian Thielemann, cond.

BEL CANTO - The Tenors of the 78 Era
NAXOS 2110389

Today's leading Mahler interpreter, Riccardo Chailly, already has made multiple recordings of all of the symphonies. His superb latest series, with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, nears completion with this superb issue of Symphony No. 1. This site already has praised previous issues, in particular the magnificent Symphony No 7 (REVIEW) and Symphony No. 8 (REVIEW). This Symphony No. 1, recorded live January 2015, is of equal merit. As a bonus, there is a lengthy commentary with Chailly about the composer and his music. The multi-channel audio is superb, and the video among the best I've ever seen. Cameras are always in the right place, and images are ultra-sharp and brilliant. An outstanding addition to the catalog, indeed! Doubtless Symphony No. 3 eventually will appear.

Christian Thielemann has been Principal Conductor of Staatskapelle Dresden for more than six years. He continues his Bruckner cycle with Symphony No. 1. Already issued are all of the others except for No. 2, which doubtless soon will follow. Symphony No. 1 is played in the original Linz version. It does show a lighter side of the composer. Bruckner said of the finale, ""never again have I been so audacious and bold." This is a minor item compared with the grandeur of the other symphonies, and this fine performance is welcome. The performance was recorded live in Munich's Philharmonie September 6, 2017.

Oopera lovers will welcome this Naxos multi-disk set, a documentary series by Jan Schmidt-Garre and Georg-Albrecht Eckle about the great tenors and bel canto singing in the first half of the 20th century. With development of sound film in the 1920s and 1930s, many of the great tenors were filmed including Beniamino Gigli, Richard Tauber and Lauritz Melchior. Countless “singer movies” were made, but great vocal performances were also captured in documentaries and privately made movies many included here. Using a wealth of rare restored material, this thirteen-part documentary series presents the great tenors from Enrico Caruso to Jussi Bjorling, and together with comprehensive essays, offers a deep and inspiring insight into the art of bel canto. Bel Canto – The Tenors of the 78 Era series was broadcast in thirty countries and awarded at the Columbus International Film Festival and at Classique en Images at the Louvre. This was issued more than a dozen years ago on Eurodisk and reviewed on this site (REVEW).

The set contains 2 two well-filled CDs (78:25 & 77:24) of recordings and soundtracks features beginning with Enrico Caruso and ending with Jussi Bjoerling and Lauritz Melchior. Two Blu Ray disks contain the documentary, and a "bonus" DVD contains performances by Tito Schipa, Joseph Schmidt, Richard Tauber and Ivan Kozlovsky. Also we have John Stern discussing bel canto singing, and Stefan recorded in 1996 about the origins of modem singing. Also included is a 58-page booklet of essays and commentaries on various artists, and a 116-page book of essays about bel canto, with music examples. Aficionados of the human voice—particularly tenors— surely should investigate this intriguing issue. Considering that it contains five disks and two books, it is reasonably priced.

R.E.B. (May 2018)