The conductor Carlos Paita is one of a number of exciting musical personalities who first became known to a large international public through recordings. A great deal of interest was created with the release of his first recording in Decca’s “Phase 4” series, a Wagner program with the New Philharmonia Orchestra, issued in 1968. In the United States, where the recording was issued on the London label, the respected critic Irving Kolodin compared the intensity and brilliance of Paita’s performances with those of Sir Thomas Beecham, Wilhelm Furtwängler and Arturo Toscanini; in France the LP was awarded the Grand Prix du Disque of the Academie Charles Gros. While Paita himself had known Beecham and Toscanini only through their recordings, he had actually attended concerts and rehearsals under Furtwängler at the famous Teatro Colón when he was still a student, and the impact of that legendary figure was a major influence in his own decision to become a conductor. Paita was born in Buenos Aires. His italian parents contributed to both the fiery intensity and the unpretentious warm-heartedness that characterize his personality and his musicianship. His mother was a gifted singer and pianist; there was always music in the home when he was a child—on the radio, on records—and his interest in it was encouraged. The formal discipline of conservatory life was not for him, however, but he was able to study privately with some distinguished teachers: Jacobo Fischer for composition, harmony and counterpoint; Jan Neuchoff, a Leschetitzky pupil, for piano, and, following his stimulating exposure to Furtwängler and Artur Rodzinski.
Although Paita never imitated Furtwängler or Rodzinski, the personal style he developed was, like theirs, stamped by a passionate level of commitment and involvement. Session photographs printed in the liner material of the original LP of that first Wagner recording gave an idea of the intensity, drive and all-round enthusiasm in Paita’s approach: he was taking the music personally—whether Wagner, Mahler or Rossini—but on its own terms. He believes in flexibility but not in distortion, regarding himself as the conduit through which the composer’s own wishes are realized—while regarding himself also as responsible for bringing the score to life in sound. Following his studies with Rodzinski, Paita made his conducting début at the Colón at the age of 24. He was given the position of co-répitéteur at that illustrious house, where he presided over the South American premiere of Mahler’s Second Symphony and later a ceremonial performance of the Verdi Requiem in memory of the slain U.S. President Kennedy. He made his European début in Stuttgart in 1966; in the following year he appeared in Brussels and conducted the Mahler Ninth in Karlsruhe. In 1968 he settled in Europe and gave concerts in France, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain and Portugal. At a concert in Brussels which included the Chausson Symphony, he was discovered by the Decca producer Tony D’Amato, who launched his recording activity in London with the aforementioned Wagner LP. Paita’s subsequent recordings for Decca—Rossini overtures, a Mahler First, and Verdi Requiem with the Royal Philharmonic, an Eroica with the Scottish National Orchestra, a collection of overtures with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, all produced by Tony D’Amato—also attracted worldwide attention, as the conductor became increasingly active throughout Europe. Ten years after the release of the Wagner program, Paita began recording exclusively for Lodia, which label also recirculated his Decca material. His first Lodia release, Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique with the London Symphony Orchestra, was received enthusiastically and was awarded the Grand Prix du Disque of the Academie Française. For Lodia, Paita continued to record with the London Philharmonic, Royal Philharmonic and National Philharmonic, and the Phiharmonic Symphony Orchestra was formed especially for him, with players from all the big London orchestras. His recordings of such works as Tchaikovsky’s Pathétique Symphony, the Brahms First, and particularly the Bruckner Eighth and Dvo_ák Seventh, were given exceptionally favorable reviews in such publications as The Gramophone, Diapason and Stereo Review. During the Lodia years Paita’s discography grew to include more Wagner (Götterdämmerung excerpts with the tenor James Kind and the soprano Uta Vinzing), more Beethoven (Symphonies Nos. 5 and 7), more Tchaikovsky (Symphonies Nos. 4 and 5 and shorter works, with the New Moscow Orchestra), more Dvo_ák (Symphonies Nos. 8 and 9), Schubert’s “Great C major” Symphony, the Mussorgsky/Ravel Pictures at an Exhibition. He took his Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra to Paris to perform Bruckner, and toured Europe with the Royal Philharmonic. Paita’s American début came about in January 1979, when he conducted the Houston Symphony Orchestra in Mahler’s First Symphony and shorter works by Mozart and Brahms. Three years later he appeared in Washington, at the invitation of Mstislav Rostropovich, to conduct the National Symphony Orchestra in four performances of Mahler’s Ninth Symphony; he was invited back in 1987, when he conducted Bruckner’s Fourth and works of Brahms and Wagner. Since then he has continued to conduct orchestras throughout Europe, from Brussels and Liège to Moscow and St Petersburg. Highlights have included Berlioz’s Roméo et Juliette at the Prague Spring Festival, La Damnation de Faust in Bonn, appearances at the Enesco Festival in Romania, Shostakovich’s Eighth Symphony with the Bavarian Radio SO in Munich, and Bruckner at the Flanders Festival, as well as concerts in Amsterdam, Paris, Bratislava, Sofia, Warsaw and other musical centers. Wherever he has appeared, his communicative and inspiriting music-making has won devoted admirers, and his recordings, as they have been in and out of circulation on various labels, have become collectors’ items.