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I started reading this book last night - light reading but entertaining. It starts with a discussion of two recordings of Gould playing Beethoven's 3rd piano concerto, one conducted by Karajan, the other by Bernstein, and Ozawa's observations on the working styles of the two men - he was a student of both - were very interesting. It might not surprise you that Lenny was much less disciplined in rehearsal than Karajan.
Anyway, Ozawa made the claim that he was really from the German school, both in choice of repertoire and style of playing, and that he only started doing French things in Boston, and made the comment that he did his first performance of Berlioz' Requiem there. This made me think a bit - I could have sworn that Ozawa did the big Berlioz works here in San Francisco before taking them to Boston. Ozawa became music director in Boston in 1973, when he was already music director in SF. He held both posts for a time, and then resigned from SF. I was in the Bay Area until 1972, and while I came back a few times, it was rare that I attended concerts when I did so (I moved back in 1980, by the way). Yet I heard the SFS do the Requiem, conducted by Ozawa, and it must have been during the 71/72 season. A great experience, too. Could Ozawa have done it in Boston before then?
Actually, it is ironic that Boston and Ozawa never really bonded, from what I understand, even though he was there a very long time. He was adored in San Francisco, like a rock star - flowers would be thrown to him after concerts, and his name was everywhere. And it seemed like it was a mutual feeling, as Ozawa mentioned during an interview that his goal in SF was to exceed Ormandy's tenure in Philly....guess he was able to do that, but in Boston, not SF. When the news of his appointment in Boston became public, it was like a stab in the collective heart of concert-goers here. I think the view was that if he left, it would be to succeed Karajan, not go to another American orchestra. Ozawa even said that if he no longer had a full-time job in SF, he loved the city so much he would retain an apartment here just to have a place to study....yet he rarely returned after he left, unlike Blomstedt, who comes every year.
In a way, it is hard to blame him for seeing Boston as an advance over SF - at the time, the SFS was almost a part time orchestra, and had no dedicated hall. Now, of course, with its budget, hall and recording schedule it would be considered a plum appointment.
If you have reached this far.....how many of Ozawa's records are part of your core collection?
I hate using that pejorative, but these days, it's the only way to concisely convey disapprobation. Which dullard Ozawa richly deserves.
Severius! Supremus Invictus
Every one here's posting opinions. Most of what this site's about is posting opinions.
You have no problems with that.
But - you have a problem when I post an opinion.
Even when the last time I posted anything at all was a year or so ago.
What an ass.
Here's an opinion for you. Most of you here - IN MY OPINION - are severely IQ deficient, and most of you lack the ability to understand even simple concepts about music. No wonder many of you are so miserable in life, and many of you don't even enjoy the music you listen to. In my opinion.
Severius! Supremus Invictus
His was my first recording of this piece. I wore out the vinyl and was so excited when it was released on CD. Alas, probably one of the worst transfers ever made. And no, I'm not going back to vinyl.
His recording is more languid and atmospheric than the others I have heard. And his finale is by far my favorite. Builds slowly, not percussive, and ends majestically with the final notes of the strings leaving you suspended in air.
Seiji Ozawa is one of few major conductors who just never enthralled me...... Daniel Barenboim is another..... And Franz Welser-Möst......
Wow - do I ever remember that performance (actually the rehearsal) of the Berlioz Requiem with Ozawa. At that time, there was no SF Symphony Chorus, and the SF Symphony often did their big choral works each season with the Stanford Chorus - and that was the case with Ozawa's Berlioz Requiem in '72. (My first year at Stanford was the academic year 1971-72.) I remember the rehearsal held at the Stanford Memorial Church - Ozawa came down to Palo Alto to conduct it, no orchestra, just two pianos playing the orchestral reduction in addition to the chorus. This was one of the most overwhelming musical experiences I remember in my whole life - even with the two pianos replacing the orchestra. The way the sound bounced around that immense space (in a way that Berlioz must have dreamed of!) sent shivers down my spine! The actual performances (with orchestra) at the opera house simply could not have approached the effect (and, I'm tempted to say, the exaltation!) of that rehearsal in Memorial Church. Little did I know that, the following year, I myself would be one of the pianists who played with the chorus when Ozawa came down to Stanford to rehearse the Mahler Eighth Symphony. (There's a funny story about that which I've posted here before, but I don't want to repeat it here since this post is getting to be so long already!)
BTW (and I know I'm getting further off topic), people may know the story of the dedication of that striking building (the Stanford Memorial Church): when first completed, the dedication on the edifice read, "To the memory of Leland Stanford and the Glory of God". However, after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake (which partially damaged the church), the dedication was revised (order reversed!) as shown in the third picture below. ;-)
Anyway, to answer your question, there have been a number of Ozawa recordings (such as the Beethoven Ninth with the Orchestre de Paris) which have passed through my collection, many of which I haven't kept. Of the ones which I have right now, I'd rate his set of Prokofiev Symphonies with the BPO very highly. Also with the BPO are his fine performances (with Yundi Li) of the Prokofiev Second Concerto and the Ravel G-major Concerto. I also like the first two Rachmaninoff Concertos and the Liszt Concertos he did with Zimerman and the BSO. And staying with concertos, I'm fascinated with the Poulenc Concerto for Two Pianos he did with the Lebeque sisters and the BSO - in spite of the frequently insane speeds which Katia and Marielle favored - LOL! Ozawa's recording of Strauss's "Elektra" (with my friend, Emily Rawlins, singing a couple of the minor roles) is also very good, despite the squashed, multi-microphoned SQ. And I don't want to forget his excellent work with the unsullied, pre-HIP Viktoria Mulova and the BSO in the Tchaikovsky and Sibelius Violin Concertos. Finally, there's a great Beethoven First Piano Concerto with Martha and the Bavarian Radio Orchestra (on the BR Klassik label).
Of course, I was never in Boston during Ozawa's long tenure there, so I can only judge on the basis of recordings, some of which (listed above) I still enjoy. It seems that most of the recordings I listed feature Ozawa in a collaborative role with various famous soloists - maybe that's telling! ;-)
What great pics ......brings back decades of memory. I went to service there when I was about 6 !! I ended up there on acid much later and then went on to take some B/W pics with very 1st roll of film. Last time I was there was with an insane girlfriend of mine....not too good.
I lived by the University from about age 2 through 32.
I haven't been inside that church since I went to a wedding there shortly after you were rehearsing the Mahler 8.....in other words a VERY long time ago.
Sorry if I gave the impression that the Mahler rehearsal was in Memorial Church.
Although I'm not down in the Stanford vicinity very much these days, I believe "The Dink" has pretty much been replaced by the newer, smaller Bing Concert Hall for concert use for a number of years now. Dinkelspiel was one of many halls which featured what everyone generally agreed were bad acoustics, although I treasure seeing a concert there by the (old) Borodin Quartet in the late 60's - music by Borodin, Shostakovitch, and one other composer whom I'm now forgetting. That Borodin Second String Quartet performance was absolutely magical!
Dinkelspiel Auditorium (across from the student union)
EDIT: BTW, the wonderful pics in my previous post were not my own - they were from Google Images.
Probably quite a few more than I currently give him credit for.
Like the above Rite of Spring' which to my mind is a classic.
Also like his Orff.
Probably should take the time to really explore his work, what with streaming and all plus I've got the time (at least at the moment).
I always rather liked his Respighi Rome trilogy (BSO), particularly Feste Romane with a rather hallucinatory view of La Befana. I also have a weakness for his Bartok Music for Strings, Percussion etc. also with the BSO ( there is a later version with the Saito Kainen Festival Orch). However it may be because this was the first recording of "modern" music that I became attracted to in my teens. So perhaps a sentimental view from me.
The Respighi is available on Qobuz but not , as far as I can see, the Bartok ( NB: next major update from them will be an improved search facility; BTW have you seen the display of additional information when you click on a track in the listing view in the new player?).
Yes, great feature as there is no way to set the tabs on the display of track information and I play mostly for m a small laptop that controls the other players in the house (mac mini, iMac, etc).
Turns out the Bartok 'Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta, Sz. 106' is on the first tracks of 'l'album Seiji Ozawa Anniversary' which is an 11 CD compilation of his UMG catalog pictured above.
Thanks for the info.
My very first classical concert that I attended after leaving home was with the SFS under the baton of Mr. Ozawa. I forget the year due to the particular life style was I living at the time. Why I even opted not to go to the Filmore that week instead who knows. To my surprise, I loved the whole experience. I can't for the life of me remember what he conducted, but I have strong visual recall about that night. Hey.....I thought all conductors must have long hair!
I find it kind of cool that my father's first date with my mom was to attend a concert conducted by Pierre Montuex in 1944-5. I was 4th generation San Franciscan......but like all us normal folks......lacked that graduate degree in Computer Science to stay there.
Ludite Tom B.
Interesting post, thanks. I'm not sure I have any Ozawa recordings with any orchestra. Maybe one, Mozart symphonies with the BSO, which is very good iirc.
As for Karajan and Bernstein, in Bernstein's fascinating collected and annotated letters published by Yale University Press, one learns they liked each other and got along well, although when they first met, Bernstein reported in a letter, "I met my first Nazi!"
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