Another historic concert this week. Featuring the legendary Dutch Soprano Elly Ameling with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, led by its then-new Music Director Gerard Schwarz in this recording broadcast on April 5, 1981 (recorded in 1980).
The program starts with Samuel Barber’s Serenade For String Orchestra Op. 1, in honor of Barber’s 70th birthday. It’s followed by Berlioz’ Les Nuits d’été and finally Bach’s Suite Number 3 in D Major BWV 1068. There was a performance of Respighi’s Ancient Airs and Dances #1, but the tape ran out before it was over, so I didn’t include it.
The art song was the centerpiece of Elly Ameling’s long and distinguished career. Born in Rotterdam, Holland, in 1933, she became well known for her recital appearances early on. Blessed with a soprano that was bright, warm and agile all at once, she excelled as an interpreter in a great breadth of music — Mozart, Brahms, Wolf, Schubert and Fauré. In New York, her recitals at Carnegie Hall were anticipated as fervently as those of Janet Baker. She was a cerebral singer who also conveyed great joy in singing; as a recitalist, she scored not only an artistic but a commercial triumph. Opera appearances were rare — she made a belated debut in 1973, as Idomeneo’s Ilia at the Netherlands Opera — but she was also much in demand as an oratorio and concert singer, in works ranging from Bach’s “Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen” to Berlioz’s Les Nuits d’Été.
Contemporary works, particularly by her countrymen Bertus van Lier (nl) and Robert Heppener, are also part of her large repertoire. Ameling has recorded more than 150 albums and has won many recording prizes, including The Edison Award, the Grand Prix du Disque and the Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik. When she retired in 1995, she was regarded as one of the most admired and recorded female lieder singers.
Born in America to Viennese parents, Gerard Schwarz began studying piano at the age of five and soon focused on the trumpet. A graduate of both New York City’s High School of Performing Arts and The Juilliard School, he joined the New York Philharmonic in 1972 as co-principal trumpet, a position he held until 1977. Schwarz’s numerous previous positions include Music Director of New York’s Mostly Mozart Festival (1982-2001), where he presided over sold-out houses, developed the orchestra’s international touring, maintained a nine-year residency in Tokyo, considerably expanded its Mozart repertoire and lead numerous televised Live from Lincoln Center appearances. His tenure as Music Director of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic (2001-2006) initiated the long-standing partnership between the orchestra and Classic FM, expanded recordings on the RLPO Live label, initiated a new partnership with Avie records, created the enormously popular Sunday matinee Musically Speaking concert series, led highly acclaimed tours to Spain and Prague and brought the orchestra to National Television in BBC Proms broadcasts. As Music Director of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra (1978-1985) and New York Chamber Symphony (1977-2001) he expanded concert series and audiences, made award-winning recordings and championed new works. In addition, he served as Artistic Advisor to the Tokyo Philharmonic.
Definitely a candidate for Mid-Week anti Road-Rage Music. I suggest you pull up a chair and hit the play button. Let the sounds do their work.