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Monday, July 14, 2014

Vale Maestro Lorin Maazel


I was awakened with great sadness today to learn that Maestro Lorin Maazel had unexpectedly passed away.

A prolific conductor and composer, Maazel was responsible for many recordings which have become over time legendary, from composers such as Sibelius, Beethoven, Ravel and Bizet to Bruckner, Scriabin and Tchaikovksy to name but a few.

He was also an esteemed composer in his own right, his opera 1984, based on the George Orwell novel of the same name performed at Covent Garden and the Metropolitan Opera.

My first acquaintance with Maestro Maazel was with the Carmen soundtrack he recorded for the Francesco Rosi movie from 1984 with Julia Migenes-Johnson and Placido Domingo.  For me at the tender age of 14, his view of Bizet's music captured perfectly a sun-drenched 19th Century Spain.
 
From there I went on to acquire his live Turandot from the Vienna Staatsoper with Eva Marton and Jose Carreras, still to this day one of my favourite recordings of Puccini's final opera.  Maazel really brings out the savagery and barbarism of Puccini's score, second to none in my opinion.

Two other operatic recordings of note that were conducted by Maestro Maazel are also worthy of mention as favourites of mine: Otello with Domingo and Ricciarelli for the Zefirelli movie and his Tosca with Nilsson, Corelli and Fischer-Dieskau.  Both have moments of intense beauty and melancholy (Otello) and an unconventional dramatic edge (Tosca).

Maazel's name will be forever associated with orchestras such as the Cleveland Symphony, the London Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic and the Vienna Philharmonic and he was the first American conductor ever to be invited to appear at Bayreuth, in 1960.

As a musical tribute I wish to share one of my absolute favourite recordings by Maazel.  That is Scriabin's Poem of Ecstasy with the Cleveland Orchestra.  His view of Scriabin's composition is compelling and fitting as a tribute.  Rest in peace Maestro Maazel, your contribution to music is remarkable and your legacy will remain with us for generations to come.



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