For this gala presentation, Lorin Maazel and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra perform favorites by Richard Wagner and Giuseppe Verdi for the annual Summer Night Concert, recorded on May 30, 2013. Celebrating these composers' bicentennial year, the concert in Vienna's Schönbrunn Palace park includes overtures and vocal selections from their operas, with a polka by Johann Strauss II thrown in at the end for good fun. Maazel's interpretations are steady if a bit cautious in tempo, and the Vienna Philharmonic's playing is exemplary, as might be expected from this world-class orchestra. However, because this is a live recording with open-air acoustics, the orchestra's sound is rather dry with crisp cut-offs and slightly muted timbres, though this is less noticeable in tutti passages, and the loudest works, such as the "Triumphal March" from Aida, the Prelude to Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, and the "Ride of the Valkyries" are heard with full aural luster. Less robust music, such as the softest passages in the Prelude to Tristan und Isolde and "In fernem Land" from Lohengrin may require a slight adjustment in volume for clarity. Thanks to the careful engineering, the applause is kept to a reduced level and other audience noises are eliminated.
AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|I Lombardi alla prima crociata|
|Tristan und Isolde|
|La forza del destino|