New Solti DVD Box Set A Treasure!

I’ve been listening to a new DVD set of Solti performances with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra (VPO). They are tremendous!

There are some rehearsal sequences with the VPO from 1995. Solti is unusually loquacious, telling stories about Kodaly (“He gave lessons barefoot”). In the Berlioz Hungarian March Solti shouts derisively at the brass “That was a baby fortissimo!”. The next time that passage came around they nearly blew him off the podium.

I was impressed again with the quality of Solti’s music-making. Hearing him live in those years (1970s) we were often put off by the unremitting intensity. But listening today that same intensity is astonishing in its power.

With the CSO Solti had one of the finest orchestras ever assembled and he attended to every detail to make them even better. Rossini Overtures, Wagner, Richard Strauss – Dale Clevenger playing the Till Eulenspiegel solos with incredible speed, accuracy and panache- and a wonderful Bruckner 6th.

And the Chicago brass! What more can be said! Adolph Herseth, hardly moving as he plays but a master of the big sound, the wispy, quiet solo and everything in between. The trombones incredibly accurate and pure, and then there is Arnold Jacobs, the world’s greatest tuba player. What a joy to see them all in their prime! Week in and week out they played like a great orchestra but under Solti they were an orchestra for the ages.

This DVD box is a treasure.

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