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Disc 1: "The Making of West Side Story" (1985)
"In 1985, 27 years after its Broadway premiere, Leonard Bernstein went into a New York studio for Deutsche Grammophon to conduct his most famous work for the first time." Kiri Te Kanawa, Jose Carreras, and Tatiana Troyanos sing; Christopher Swann directs.
Disc 2: Beethoven: Piano Concertos 3 & 5 (1977/78)
A youthful Maurizio Pollini joins Karl Bohm and the Vienna Philharmonic in two perfectly good performances no better and no worse than dozens of other Beethoven concerto recordings. It's the exquisite slow movements, which Pollini and Bohm play with sensitivity and taste, that I want to hear over again.
Disc 3: "Carmen" (1967)
Bizet's glorious music supports the tale of a priggish mamma's boy driven over the edge by a slut. Grace Bumbry, Jon Vickers, and Mirella Freni sing the leads, while Herbert von Karajan conducts the orchestra, directs the film crew, and "artistically supervises."
Disc 4: Mozart: Violin Concertos 4 & 5 (2005)
Anne-Sophie Mutter, in a stunning blue dress, appears as soloist and conductor, playing Mozart's gorgeous D major and A major concertos before a rapt audience at the Salzberg Mozarteum.
Disc 5: "Don Giovanni" (1954)
Paul Czinner's film looks and sounds pretty good for its age, except for some weirdly shaky and out of focus camerawork on the Stone Guest. Wilhelm Furtwangler conducts the Vienna Philharmonic in a typically portentous performance, with Cesare Siepi in the title role.
Discs 6 & 7: "Der Rosenkavalier" (1979)
What starts off as a bedroom farce deepens into profound comedy with the Marschallin's almost Daoist realization that love is just another of life's transitory pleasures. Gwyneth Jones sings the Marschallin, with Brigitte Fassbaender as her young lover and Manfred Jungwirth as the boorish Baron Ochs; Carlos Kleiber conducts the Bayerisches Staatsorchester.
Disc 8: "Swan Lake" (1966)
Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn dance the leads; John Lanchbery conducts the Wiener Symphoniker. Choreography by Nureyev.
Disc 9: "La Traviata" (2005)
This is the acclaimed Salzberg Festival production featuring Anna Netrebko, Rolando Villazon, and a giant clock center stage. Carlo Rizzi conducts the Vienna Philharmonic.
Disc 10: Verdi: Requiem Mass (1967)
Leontyne Price, Fiorenza Cossotto, Nicolai Ghiaurov, and a young Luciano Pavarotti are the soloists; Karajan conducts the chorus & orchestra of the Teatro alla Scala; and filmmaker Henri-Georges Clouzot, better known for his thrillers "Diabolique" and "The Wages of Fear," directs.
Discs 11 & 12: "Die Walkure" (1980)
The year after being filmed as Strauss' Marschallin, Gwyneth Jones sang Brunnhilde in Patrice Chereau's then cutting edge production of the Ring cycle. Pierre Boulez conducts the Bayreuther Festspiele Orchestra.
Disc 13: "Peter and the Wolf: A Prokofiev Fantasy" (1993)
And what to make of this one? Everyone outgrows "Peter and the Wolf," but this production, narrated by Sting and featuring puppet caricatures by the Spitting Image Workshop, gives us a hard-drinking Duck, the Marx Brothers as hunters, and Prokofiev himself (rather pointlessly) playing the part of the Grandfather, even though the actor portraying Prokofiev bears an uncanny physical resemblance to Shostakovich. The "Classical Symphony" performance is much more fun, featuring a frenetic 18th-century orchestra playing for a group of rowdy dinner guests including Beethoven, Wagner, Haydn, Bach, and Schubert.
Deutsche Grammophon's third 111th anniversary release salutes our company's continuous commitment to technological innovation - here we highlight a medium unimaginable in 1898: 11 Great Videos - a box-set containing thirteen DVDs. This compilation of matchless films from the Unitel Classica catalogue (released by Deutsche Grammophon) ranges from Wilhelm Furtwängler's 1954 Don Giovanni with Cesare Siepi and Lisa della Casa to Anne-Sophie Mutter's supreme take on Mozart's violin concertos. Claudio Abbado's classic interpretation of Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf (narrated by Sting) is a bonus in this specially priced box-set.