maestro or mephisto

Georg Solti conducted the performance on the first classical record I bought when I was about 14 or 15.

It was Elgar’s First Symphony with the London Philharmonic Orchestra on the Decca label released in 1972.

The same recording complete with its memorable cover – a striking bust of Elgar resplendant in full moustache – was reissued in 2007 as part of Decca’s The Original series.

And reading the reviews, Solti’s reading of the work has retained its position as one of the leading interpretations available.

So I’ll be watching tonight’s BBC Four documentary about the conductor with a particular interest.

‘Maestro or Mephisto: The Real Georg Solti’ has been made to mark the cententary of his birth, and as with all such portraits of the no-longer-with-us, there is an opportunity to avoid hagiography.

The castlist is suitably eminent – Angela Gheorghiu, Valery Gergiev, Kiri Te Kanawa and Placido Domingo – with the singers giving an indication of Solti’s reputation as a superb conductor of Wagner and Mahler.

Elgar Symphony No.1 – audio clips from Solti 1972 recording

Maestro or Mephisto: The Real Georg Solti – BBC iPlayer


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