In Sunday’s (1/6) Philadelphia Inquirer, David Patrick Stearns writes, “Of all the great conductors of the 20th century, Sir Georg Solti was the one who never quite arrived in Valhalla. Though he lived and conducted longer than two of his starrier contemporaries, Leonard Bernstein and Herbert von Karajan, Solti (1912-1997) achieved only temporary immortality for the Wagner Ring cycle he recorded between 1958 and 1965, which is periodically named one of the great classical recordings of all time. Solti was a Grammy Award magnet, winning 32, an all-time, still-unrivaled record for any artist, classical or popular. Yet when he died, so did his reputation. You could wonder why in the face of the Solti@100 barrage of Decca-label reissues in his just-ended 100th birthday year. The first wave mostly emphasizes his opera recordings, barely touching his hugely successful discography with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, which he headed from 1969 to 1991. … Solti wasn’t anybody’s idea of a glamorous conductor. Though he was a handsome man with a high-wattage smile, his conducting technique was utilitarian. In the excellent ICA Classics video of him conducting the Chicago Symphony in Brahms’ Symphony No. 1, he doesn’t act out the music—he makes sure everything is operating correctly and lets the emotionalism take care of itself.”

Posted January 11, 2013