Zubin Mehta and The LA Philharmonic Orchestra: Complete Decca Recordings
Zubin Mehta / LA Philharmonic Orchestra
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- Release Date 29 May 2020
- In Stock
- Product code
- CD Box Set
- Decca Records
- Zubin Mehta’s tenure of over 16 years as the musical director of the ‘LA Phil’ marks an important chapter in the orchestra’s history. The recorded portrait of the musical partnership between the first American orchestra to be exclusively contracted by a British recording company and the dynamic maestro is explored here in this new edition
- Landmark recordings of Mahler’s and Saint-Saëns’s Third Symphonies, Ravel orchestral works, tone poems by Richard Strauss and the Decca demonstration disc (for its time and today) of music from Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
- 38CDs | New remasterings | original sleeve artwork | 140pp booklet with extensive new essays by Cyrus Meher-Homji OAM (SVP at Universal Music Australia), John Mordler, former Decca Producer and Decca Engineer Simon Eadon, plus many photos from the Decca archives
In October 1954, the eighteen-year old Zubin Mehta boarded a ship for Italy and upon disembarking there took a train to Vienna to pursue his life’s ambition in music. Under the strict, somewhat dry tutorship of Hans Swarowsky, Mehta was quickly imbibed in Viennese musical life and almost immediately met Decca’s legendary producer John Culshaw who recognising his potential wished to sign him – a contract that would not come to pass until years later when he succeeded Sir Georg Solti as conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. Whilst perhaps artistic precedence would have been given to longer established artists over the relatively unknown Mehta, whenever a repertoire was being recorded, things fell into place. Mehta’s tenure with the orchestra until 1978, and the enduring quality of the recordings, provide the obvious proof of the fruits of this relationship. Not insignificantly, under Mehta, the LAPO were the first American orchestra signed exclusively to a major European recording company (Decca). For his recording team Mehta had Decca’s top-drawer producers and engineers: Culshaw and Ray Minshull were his chief producers, and the legendary team of Gordon Parry and James Lock his sound engineers.
This 38-CD collection provides proof of just how catholic Mehta’s tastes were. The foundation of his music making continues to lie in the central European masterworks (represented here by Haydn, Beethoven, Mahler and Tchaikovsky) and he has never lost sight of that tradition. When he recorded the Mahler Third in LA, the august Penguin Guide described it as “a performance so authentically Viennese”. Likewise, Gramophone’s reviewer surveying his Bruckner 4 observed, “I have never before known this music sound so like Wagner”. But he dares to go further. Richard Straus’s tone poems and Mahler symphonies also signature works in his repertoire, and topically, he delivers a compelling sweaty account of Scriabin, a tremendous performance of Nielsen’s Fourth and music by Kraft, and topically, John Williams, the coupling of whose Star Wars and Close Encounters suites were demonstration records for their time and remain so today. In other words, you could argue that many of these Mehta recordings are the American embodiment of the fabled Decca Sound.
Mehta embodies all the qualities of a serious musician, but continues to maintain that experimentation is key to the survival and growth of classical music: “This is why I believe that we should allow a lot of innovation or ‘gimmicks’ so that people are enticed to attend concerts and operas. Ceremonious solemnity alone is not enough to win over the younger generation. The valuable musical heritage that we are responsible for merits careful consideration. We simply have to come up with new ways of awakening our interest in classical music.”