Many of the legendary opera performances and concerts that George Szell conducted in Salzburg are documented on the ORFEO label.To these, we now add two live recordings of concerts dating from 1957. In the first he is heard with the Berlin Philharmonic, which the Festival's new artistic director, Herbert von Karajan, had just introduced to Salzburg as its second great symphony orchestra alongside the Vienna Philharmonic. Szell had first conducted the Berlin Philharmonic four decades earlier in Berlin. In 1957 he was originally scheduled to give only one concert with the orchestra at the Mozarteum: an all-Mozart programme comprising the relatively little-known Symphony K201, the Piano Concerto in C major, with the then 29-year-old Leon Fleisher making his Salzburg Festival début. His precocious mellowness ideally blends with the Mozart style of Szell and the Berlin Philh. Barely a week later Szell was asked to step in at the last minute and rescue a concert in the old Festspielhaus. He conducted the concert without rehearsal from memory, reversing the planned order of pieces, ending the concert with an acclaimed performance of the'Eroica'.Yet Szell never gives the impression that in spontaneously taking over the concert he had limited himself to only the most basic essentials or that he had taken too great a risk by insisting on his own personal interpretation.Thanks to his precision and perfection the present archive recording affords further proof of George Szell's exceptional status among the leading conductors of the 20th century.
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