Sony Classical Celebrates the 125th Anniversary of Carnegie Hall with Deluxe 43-CD Box Set Featuring Legendary Live Recordings: Great Moments at Carnegie Hall
Deluxe 43-CD Box Set Features Historic Treasures from the RCA and Columbia Archives
(New York, NY)—Since its first Opening Night on May 5, 1891, Carnegie Hall has been the aspirational destination for the world’s finest artists. In celebration of the Hall’s 125th anniversary, Sony Classical in partnership with Carnegie Hall has released Great Moments at Carnegie Hall, an extraordinary 43-CD box set of treasures from the RCA and Columbia archives featuring live recordings capturing an array of unforgettable classical music performances spanning 1933 through 2007. Available now, this unique deluxe edition features music-making by acclaimed artists from throughout Carnegie Hall’s history, including Vladimir Horowitz, Leontyne Price, Yo-Yo Ma, Leonard Bernstein, and many others, including a number of previously unreleased recordings. The set is accompanied by a 104-page coffee table book with fascinating notes by Carnegie Hall Archives and Rose Museum Director Gino Francesconi as well as facsimile documents and photographs.
Great Moments at Carnegie Hall showcases many of the artists who enjoyed historically close ties to Carnegie Hall, beginning with two performances of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, from 1931 and 1933 by Arturo Toscanini and continuing with a 1934 performance in which Serge Koussevitzky conducts Roy Harris’s First Symphony, among the first works by an American-born composer to be recorded by a major orchestra. It was one of some 115 important compositions—by Debussy, Ravel, Stravinsky, Bartók, and others—that Koussevitzky and the Boston Symphony Orchestra gave their US premieres at Carnegie Hall.
Throughout history, great pianists have played a principal role in establishing the Hall’s unique reputation. A landmark in its history took place and was recorded in 1943 when Vladimir Horowitzjoined his father-in-law Toscanini and the NBC Symphony Orchestra in an all-Tchaikovsky program to help raise money for the war effort. Their sensational performance of the Piano Concerto No. 1 has been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
In 1958, a 23-year-old Texan pianist named Van Cliburn astonished the world by beating out eight Soviet pianists to win the first International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow. After he had played Rachmaninoff’s Third Concerto, conducted by the illustrious Kirill Kondrashin, the audience leapt to its feet and gave the pianist an eight-minute standing ovation. A few weeks later, Cliburn, again partnering with Kondrashin, recaptured the sensation he made in Russia with this Carnegie Hall performance of “Rach 3.”
The first US tour by pianist Sviatoslav Richter in 1960 culminated at Carnegie Hall in the towering, previously unreleased all-Beethoven recital contained on the box set. From 1961, Sony has included excerpts of two Chopin evenings given by another keyboard icon—Arthur Rubinstein—55 years after his Western hemisphere debut at the Hall. Another famous, if not infamous, evening occurred in 1962, when Glenn Gould’s “unorthodox” interpretation of the Brahms D minor Concerto was disavowed by conductor Leonard Bernstein before their performance with the New York Philharmonic. (Bernstein’s witty prefatory remarks to the audience are heard on the recording along with the concerto.)
Another historic highlight was Horowitz’s legendary return to Carnegie Hall in 1965. Other great recitals in the new set include the US debut recital of Canadian pianist Ronald Turini from 1961; those given by Jorge Bolet in 1974, Rudolf Serkin from 1977, and Lazar Berman from 1979; Evgeny Kissin’s US recital debut from 1990; and Arcadi Volodos’s Gramophone Award-winning recital from 1998. Great Moments also includes a wonderful 1972 organ recital by the charismatic Virgil Fox—including his charming spoken introductions to each piece—as well as a major violin-piano recital, Midori’s Carnegie solo debut from 1990.
Carnegie Hall has also been a mecca for famous singers ever since Adelina Patti, one of the most celebrated sopranos of the nineteenth century made her debut in 1893. The year 1955, in which Kirsten Flagstad and Beniamino Gigli both mounted their US farewells at Carnegie, also featured a return recital by the great Swedish tenor Jussi Björling. When he came out on stage for the recital, Björling was given a welcome described as being of “football stadium proportions.” Always a New York favorite, his Carnegie Hall recital from 1958 is included in this collection.
Leontyne Price, who made her Carnegie Hall debut with the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1954, singing music by her close associate Samuel Barber, gave her solo recital debut in 1965, included in this box set. The beloved American soprano, who appeared more than 40 times at Carnegie Hall, is also heard in a recital from 1991. Other great American vocal artists in the Sony Classical compilation include mezzo-soprano Shirley Verrett in a recital from 1965, Jennie Tourel accompanied by Leonard Bernstein at the keyboard in 1969, Kathleen Battle and Frederica von Stade in a 1991 Christmas concert conducted by André Previn, as well as Marilyn Horne’s 60th-birthday celebration from 1994, featuring the great mezzo herself along with Renée Fleming, Ruth Ann Swenson, Helen Donath, and their distinguished Spanish colleague, Montserrat Caballé.
Another birthday celebration is featured on Great Moments: the 85th anniversary of Carnegie Hall in May of 1976. Hailed as the “Concert of the Century,” this truly once-in-a-century event brought together a clutch of the most iconic names in classical music: Mstislav Rostropovich, Vladimir Horowitz, Leonard Bernstein, Yehudi Menuhin, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and, not least, Isaac Stern, who sixteen years earlier had mounted a successful campaign to save Carnegie Hall from demolition. Together with members of the New York Philharmonic—which had presented the world premiere of Dvořák’s “New World” Symphony at an early Carnegie Hall appearance in 1893—and the Oratorio Society of New York, the organization for which the Hall was principally conceived and which was heard at all but one of the opening week concerts in 1891, these great artists paid a fitting tribute to New York’s home for classical music.
About Carnegie Hall
For 125 years, New York City's Carnegie Hall has set the international standard for excellence in performance. Its walls have echoed with applause for the world's outstanding classical music artists, as they have for the greatest popular musicians and many prominent dancers, authors, social crusaders, and world figures who have appeared on its stages.
Today, the Hall presents an exciting range of performances each season on its three stages—the renowned Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage, intimate Weill Recital Hall, and innovative Zankel Hall—including concert series curated by acclaimed artists and composers; citywide festivals featuring collaborations with leading New York City cultural institutions; orchestral performances, chamber music, new music concerts, and recitals; and the best in jazz, world, and popular music.
Complementing these performance activities, Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute creates extensive music education and community programs that annually serve 500,000 people in the New York City area, nationally, and internationally, playing a central role in Carnegie Hall’s commitment to making great music accessible to as many people as possible.
For more information about Carnegie Hall, please visit www.carnegiehall.org.
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