Classical: Listen to this
Or give someone on your gift list a timeless masterpiece on CD or DVD.
By JOHN FLEMING
Published December 3, 2006
Boxed set: Mozart: The Complete Piano Concertos; English Chamber Orchestra; Murray Perahia, piano (Sony Classical)
Why we care: There's no better way to close out the 250th anniversary of Mozart's birth than with all his piano concertos on 12 CDs. Mozart created an extraordinary body of work in each of the classical genres - symphonies, operas, sacred music, chamber music- but the case could be made that the 27 piano concertos best represent the whole scope of his career.
Why we like it: Pianist Murray Perahia, who serves as his own conductor with the English Chamber Orchestra, brings a warmth and flair to the repertoire that is unmatched.
Highlights: Concerto No. 7, which is actually for three pianos and is performed in an arrangement for two pianos by Perahia and Radu Lupu; and the C-major Concerto No. 21, often called the Elvira Madigan concerto for its slow movement that was used in a popular Swedish film in the '60s.
For: Pianists, classical music lovers
John Fleming, Times performing arts critic
DVD: Hereafter; a film by Bruno Monsaingeon (Ideale Audience International)
Why we care: Glenn Gould was not just a brilliant pianist, but he was also remarkably prescient in his embrace of technology. He took the cult of the performer and transplanted it from the concert stage to the recording studio. French filmmaker Bruno Monsaingeon's collage on the life and times of the great Canadian eccentric includes footage from the beginning of his "love affair with the microphone," a 1950 radio broadcast of Mozart and Hindemith sonatas.
Why we like it: Gould could be a willful interpreter of the works of Bach, but he never failed to keep the music fresh. "Bach was the reason I became a musician," he said.
Highlights: Gould, late in his short life (he died at 50 in 1982), swaying and humming at the keyboard through a passionate performance of Bach's final unfinished fugue; colorful fall foliage along the shore of Lake Superior, where Gould would go to commune with himself.
For: Lovers of Bach, pianists, Canadians
Boxed set: Chicago: 10th anniversary edition (Masterworks Broadway)
Why we care: The revival of Bob Fosse's staging of the musical by John Kander and Fred Ebb is one of the biggest hits of all time. Various explanations are proposed for the show's success - from its resemblance to the O.J. Simpson trial to its high-fashion look - but, as Kander said, "No answer . . . has explained it."
Why we like it: Along with the Broadway cast album featuring Bebe Neuwirth and Ann Reinking, the set includes two extras. A second CD has performances by later cast members, such as Ute Lemper, John O'Hurley and Brooke Shields. There's also a DVD with interviews and footage from productions in Holland, Italy, Brazil, Germany, Mexico and Russia.
Highlights: Lemper's biting, Brechtian All That Jazz; Kander and Ebb in a demo recording of Loopin' the Loop, a song cut from the original production.
For: Broadway fans