Kurt Masur

A Life in Music: The Anniversary Gala from Leipzig [DVD Video]

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Let us take a moment to hope that we are all doing as well at 80 as conductor Kurt Masur. Few modern conductors have held the music director's position at so many prestigious orchestras throughout the world and likewise been recognized as such a humanitarian and champion of peace. Despite his many postings, his name is most likely associated with the Gewandhausorchester in Leipzig. Through his tenure there, Masur led the orchestra through one of its most illustrious and productive periods since Mendelssohn himself was at its helm. The present DVD is a celebration of Masur's 80th birthday. The deliberately lighthearted program features pop favorites ranging from Bernstein to Tchaikovsky. As it is a celebration concert, there are interjections between most of the numbers by the emcee discussing Masur's career and bestowing various honors upon him. Although Masur himself is at his expressive best in his leadership, the orchestra does not offer one of its more spectacular performances. As is often the case when orchestras perform pop concerts, the execution gets a little sloppy and lazy. Still, it is still a wonderful tribute to Masur's distinguished career, but is probably more suited to his devoted fans and not to those looking for stellar performances of any of the works it features.