Mitropoulos: Maestro Spiritoso

Dimitri Mitropoulos

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Mitropoulos: Maestro Spiritoso Review

by James Leonard

If you're not a fan of Dimitri Mitropoulos' conducting and you can't tolerate antique sound, this 10-disc set, Mitropoulos Conductor, is not for you. However, if you are a fan, and antique sound is as mother's milk to you, this collection provides a treasure trove of great performances. Mitropoulos fans may already be familiar with most of these performances since most have been previously released, either commercially or in pirated editions. Still, the extraordinarily high quality of the performances will make this set compulsory for listeners devoted to the conductor. As anyone familiar with Mitropoulos' work knows, he was perhaps the most intense conductor ever to lead an orchestra. In performance after performance, he turns in readings of overwhelming intensity, with every line, harmony, rhythm, color, and note bearing its full weight of meaning. In his magnificent account of Schumann's Third Symphony with the Minneapolis Symphony from 1947, the opening and closing Allegros have rarely had this combination of power and energy, and the fourth movement's Grave has never sounded so monumental. His Mahler First from 1940 is electrifying, his Rachmaninov Second from 1947 heart-rending, his Borodin Second from 1941 galvanizing, his Chausson Symphony from 1939 imposing, and, perhaps best of all, his Berg Concerto with violinist Joseph Szigeti from 1945 is enormously moving. Although there are some unusual items here -- the conductor himself takes a turn as soloist in Bach's Fifth Brandenburg Concerto and Krenek's Third Piano Concerto -- and although the sound is undeniably antique, with little done in the remastering process to make it more palatable, this set should appeal to anyone interested in Mitropoulos.

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