The NPR Classical 50
Mar 17, 2009 — Conductor Valery Gergiev's powerful, nearly maniacal interpretation of Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring is a lesson in controlled chaos. He emphasizes the angular savagery in the music, which still has the capacity to shock listeners today.
Jun 30, 2009 — Leonard Bernstein does full justice to the still racy and spontaneous score of Rhapsody In Blue in this 1959 recording. As both conductor and pianist, he brings a smoky, sultry jazziness to the piece.
Aug 11, 2009 — Whenever the reclusive Carlos Kleiber conducted an orchestra, it was a major event. Hear him bring out all the pent-up emotions in Brahms' final symphony, with the help of the Vienna Philharmonic.
Sep 1, 2009 — The original Broadway cast recording of Bernstein's West Side Story was made only three days after the show opened. More than 50 years later, the performers' fresh vitality still shines through.
Dec 1, 2009 — After all these years, conductor Fritz Reiner's 1955 recording of Bartok's music remains the best. He understood the poignant, brooding, mysterious and exuberant moods it explores, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra plays as if it has been set on fire.
Jun 2, 2009 — Hear the lanky Texan's iconic 1958 recording of Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1, made on the heels of his historic victory at the very first International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow.
Nov 10, 2009 — The concerto was the English composer's last major work for orchestra, as well as his most confessional. In this recording, cellist Jacqueline Du Pre gives one of her finest performances, exposing both gentleness in the pain and an edge to the tenderness.
Oct 13, 2009 — Franz Liszt's Piano Sonata in B minor demands the utmost from the performer in musical as well as technical terms. It's a piece that in the best performances can spark a powerful emotional experience in the listener.
Jul 28, 2009 — Mozart's The Magic Flute, written in the last year of his life, was a forerunner of German Romantic opera. Critic Ted Libbey recommends a specific performance by a fabulous all-star cast.
Sep 22, 2009 — Jessye Norman's voice is built for Strauss' final songs, which sound at once intimate and grand. With impeccable control over phrasing, she sings long-breathed lines at the softest volume, yet with full tone.