Brahms symphonies

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Barry
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Post by Barry » Tue Jun 19, 2007 9:58 am

I agree on the BPO's great Brahms tradition. I feel that way about them and Beethoven to an even greater extent. I may have to look into getting that Abbado set or at least sample it. I recall seeing them perform the 2nd symphony live on PBS from Carnegie Hall early in his Berlin tenure and it was a fabulous performance. It was actually the first time Brahms 2nd really made a big impact on me. I appreciated the first and fourth symphonies long before the other two for some reason. Their recording of the D-Minor concerto with Jochum and Gilels is another great recording in which they put out a powerhouse sound that is as impressive as any I've heard for a Brahms orchestra.

I used to have the 2nd and 3rd symphonies from the Sanderling/Dresden set and couldn't tell what all the fuss was about. It gets cited often as a great set, but those two recordings were nothing special IMO. Not that there was anything particularly wrong with them, but with such high expectations, I found them rather unspectacular.

I've had mixed luck with Mengelberg's Brahms. I guess he's like Furtwangler in that you need to know exactly which performances to get, because there are multiple ones of many of the major symphonies and some are much better than others. I agree that the third on Naxos Historical is a good one though.
rogch wrote:I consider the Berlin Philharmonic the orchestra when it comes to Brahms symphonies. Not only do they have a long tradition with these works, they have also presented quite different interpretations: Furtwängler, Karajan, Jochum, Abbado and Harnoncourt have all played Brahms with the Berlin PO.

I share the enthusiasm for some of the old masters like Furtwängler, Toscanini and Reiner. But Claudio Abbado's recordings surely deserve to be mentioned too? They are on four full-prize CDs, but some of the fillers are very interesting (apart from the standard overtures and Haydn variations there are some terrific vocal works).

I have not heard the set with Kurt Sanderling and the Staatskapelle Dresden, but would i would be surprised if that was not a great set.

If you have a set with modern sound quality it is of course easier to accept the more limited sound quality on older recordings where the artistic qualities can be unique. Willem Mengelberg and the Concertgebouw Orchestra on Naxos historical gives excellent value for money. But that is unfortunately not available for sale in the US, but you can order over the internet i assume.
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Post by Lance » Tue Jun 19, 2007 11:20 am

Jack Kelso wrote:

What's this about Reiner doing Schumann's Second?!? Never heard of that one....must be ancient. And you like Barenboim's? I gave my copy away after I discovered Herreweghe's and Levine's. Now THAT's the way this (2nd) symphony should sound!

Tschüß!
Jack
The Reiner Schumann Symphony #2 that immediately springs to mind is the one that was recorded on October 31, 1957 with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. It was available on an Arlecchino CD [ARL 199], coupled with Schönberg's Verklärte Nacht in the revised 1943 version, also recorded with the CSO on November 8, 1957. This was listed as Volume 3 of the Arlecchino/Reiner series. I have only one other Arlecchino/Reiner CD, listed as Volume 2 [ARL 198], which includes a live performance of Bartók's Miraculous Mandarin ballet suite with the New York Philharmonic (r. 03/12/1960), a live Piano Concerto No. 1 (r. 03/19/1960, Rudolf Serkin, piano and NYP) and Kodály's Peacock Varitions-Variations on a Hungarian Folksong with the NYP (r. 03/12/1960).

I have no idea what was on Volume 1 of Arlecchino's Reiner series and I don't know if the series went beyond Volume 3. It would have been a very fine series if Arlecchino continued their operations. Their sources and transfers were questionable. They "borrowed" quite liberally. Nonetheless, I'm glad to at least have these particular discs.
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Post by RebLem » Tue Jun 19, 2007 12:39 pm

Lance wrote:
Jack Kelso wrote:
What's this about Reiner doing Schumann's Second?!? Never heard of that one....must be ancient. And you like Barenboim's? I gave my copy away after I discovered Herreweghe's and Levine's. Now THAT's the way this (2nd) symphony should sound!

Tschüß!
Jack
The Reiner Schumann Symphony #2 that immediately springs to mind is the one that was recorded on October 31, 1957 with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. It was available on an Arlecchino CD [ARL 199], coupled with Schönberg's Verklärte Nacht in the revised 1943 version, also recorded with the CSO on November 8, 1957. This was listed as Volume 3 of the Arlecchino/Reiner series. I have only one other Arlecchino/Reiner CD, listed as Volume 2 [ARL 198], which includes a live performance of Bartók's Miraculous Mandarin ballet suite with the New York Philharmonic (r. 03/12/1960), a live Piano Concerto No. 1 (r. 03/19/1960, Rudolf Serkin, piano and NYP) and Kodály's Peacock Varitions-Variations on a Hungarian Folksong with the NYP (r. 03/12/1960).

I have no idea what was on Volume 1 of Arlecchino's Reiner series and I don't know if the series went beyond Volume 3. It would have been a very fine series if Arlecchino continued their operations. Their sources and transfers were questionable. They "borrowed" quite liberally. Nonetheless, I'm glad to at least have these particular discs.
Funniest thing. When I read this, I had my recording of that Reiner Schumann 2nd, and a number of other works, at my computer desk, because I have been trying to catalogue it on Magnificat (I want to do all my multi-composer issues first, as they are the recordings I most tend to forget I have). The Chicago Symphony released a 2 CD set in 1996 as part of its "From the Archives" series. They issue a 2 CD set every year and offer it for sale in April as part of a weekend "Radiothon" fund-raising effort. You pay 3X what you would for a 2 CD set in the stores, and you get the issue. This particular one is called "From the Archives: Volume One. The Reiner Era, actual performances from the 1957-58 season." The record number is CSO-CD96A-2.

CD 1 contains an 11:02 Berlioz Overture to Benvenuto Cellini from Dec 8, 1957, an 18:51 Vaughan Williams Fantasia on a theme by Thomas Tallis from Nov 28, 1957, and that 30:07 Schoenberg Transfigured Night from Nov. 7, 1957. CD 2 has a 12:57 Wagner Rienzi Overture from March 27, 1958 and the 39:43 Schumann Sym 2 from October 31, 1957. It was originally issued, I believe, in 1986 as a 2 LP set, but then when they went to CDs, they reissued some, but not all, of the old 2 LP issues in the series on CD. This was one of them.

Interesting statistic in the liner notes. In his 10 year association with the CSO, "even with the Draconian cutback in activity after 1960 [when he had a serious heart attack], Reiner managed to conduct a total of 160 weeks in Chicago, meaning concerts on Thursday-Friday, on bi-weekly Tuesday afternoons, occasionally on Saturday 'popular' occasions, and Sunday television concerts. In addition, he led a two week tour of eastern citadels before the 1958-59 home season....There was no second post, here or abroad--he hadn't the time."
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RebLem
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Post by RebLem » Tue Jun 19, 2007 1:24 pm

BTW, there are two other 2 CD sets in the "From the Archives" series devoted entirely to Reiner performances. One that was also issued in 1996 (one of those reissues of previous 2 LP issues, I believe) was CSO-CD96B-2.

CD1 has a 7:55 Auber Overture to Masaniello rec. April 10, 1958, an 11:41 excerpt from Berlioz Romeo and Juliet (Romeo Alone--Festival at the Capulets), a 5:27 Mussorgsky Khovanschchina Prelude from Dec. 5, 1957, a 5:30 Delius Prelude to Irmelin from Feb. 10, 1954, an 8:32 Wagner Prelude to Act 1 of Lohengrin from Mar 24, 1960, an 11:27 Webern Six Pieces for Orch from Nov 7, 1957, and a 25:21 Beethoven Sym 8 from Feb 6, 1958.

CD2 has a 14:06 Beethoven Leonore Overture 2 from Oct 24, 1957, a 10:09 Debussy Nuages from Mar 13, 1957, a 15:08 Strauss Till Eulenspiegel from Oct 11, 1957, and a 37:27 Bartok Violin Concerto 2 with Yehudi Menuhin from Oct 24, 1957.

The third set is CSO88-10, labelled Volume III "To Honor the 100th Anniversary of the birth of Fritz Reiner." This one does not have performance dates on it, but it does say they are all from the 1957-8 season. It doesn't have timings, either, but I worked those out myself.

CD1--a 3:05 interview with Fritz Reiner by Stephen F Temmer, one of the producers and recording engineers for the WFMT radio broadcasts at the time, a 25:10 Haydn Sym 104, and a 30:21 Beethoven Sym 4.

CD2--a 9:05 Berlioz Roman Carnival Overture, a 23:35 Hindemith Cello Concerto with Janos Starker, and two "bleeding chunks" from Wagner: a 20:50 Prelude & Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde, and a 12:06 Good Friday Spell from Parsifal.

BTW, somebody should retitle this thread. :wink:
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Heck148
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Post by Heck148 » Tue Jun 19, 2007 4:00 pm

Lance wrote: The Reiner Schumann Symphony #2 that immediately springs to mind is the one that was recorded on October 31, 1957 with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. It was available on an Arlecchino CD [ARL 199], coupled with Schönberg's Verklärte Nacht in the revised 1943 version, also recorded with the CSO on November 8, 1957. This was listed as Volume 3 of the Arlecchino/Reiner series.
the Schumann #2 was available on a CSO archival release -

the Reiner Era - Vol 1
there was a volume 2 as well

I just checked the CSO shop site - these two sets were NA. :cry:

I'm so glad I got them while they were hot...

Heck148
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Post by Heck148 » Tue Jun 19, 2007 4:06 pm

RebLem wrote:The third set is CSO88-10, labelled Volume III "To Honor the 100th Anniversary of the birth of Fritz Reiner." This one does not have performance dates on it, but it does say they are all from the 1957-8 season. It doesn't have timings, either, but I worked those out myself.

CD1--a 3:05 interview with Fritz Reiner by Stephen F Temmer, one of the producers and recording engineers for the WFMT radio broadcasts at the time, a 25:10 Haydn Sym 104, and a 30:21 Beethoven Sym 4.

CD2--a 9:05 Berlioz Roman Carnival Overture, a 23:35 Hindemith Cello Concerto with Janos Starker, and two "bleeding chunks" from Wagner: a 20:50 Prelude & Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde, and a 12:06 Good Friday Spell from Parsifal.
the Volume 3 has been NA for awhile - I was lucky, and had a friend tape all of those and send them to me -
the Haydn #104 and LvB #4 are great, real classics...
the Berlioz has been available on other labels, same with the Wagner, which is magnificent...
Reiner had a real knack for "Parsifal", he was famous for it - the Good Friday Music is the finest I've ever heard. the "T & I" is excellent also, right up there with Toscanini/NBC.

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Post by Ken » Tue Jun 19, 2007 5:31 pm

I know most of you prefer older recordings by established conducting legends, but I wish to bring up a more recent account: I have heard mixed reviews about the Mariss Jansons/Oslo recording of the complete Symphonies on Simax (unfortunately, this label is very difficult to find in North America).

Has anyone heard any of these recordings? Apparently the First is very very good.
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Post by Jack Kelso » Wed Jun 20, 2007 12:22 am

keninottawa wrote:I know most of you prefer older recordings by established conducting legends, but I wish to bring up a more recent account: I have heard mixed reviews about the Mariss Jansons/Oslo recording of the complete Symphonies on Simax (unfortunately, this label is very difficult to find in North America).

Has anyone heard any of these recordings? Apparently the First is very very good.
It'll have to be "very, very good" to go beyond the Giulini/Philharmonia, remember: Grand-Prix-du-Disque...?!

Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

rogch
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Post by rogch » Wed Jun 20, 2007 3:32 am

keninottawa wrote:I know most of you prefer older recordings by established conducting legends, but I wish to bring up a more recent account: I have heard mixed reviews about the Mariss Jansons/Oslo recording of the complete Symphonies on Simax (unfortunately, this label is very difficult to find in North America).

Has anyone heard any of these recordings? Apparently the First is very very good.
I have not heard them. But the the recordings of no. 2 and 3 (on the same disc) are among the best available according to the Penguin Guide. Their recording of no. 4 won a blind test on Norwegian radio. Since it was a blind test it probably not because of bias (a member of the panel thought perhaps it was the Concertgebouw). The weakness of this test was that only 6 recordings were considered and a couple of them weren't really serious contenders. So there were plenty of recordings which were not considered at all.
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Ken
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Post by Ken » Wed Jun 20, 2007 9:01 am

Jack Kelso wrote:
keninottawa wrote:I know most of you prefer older recordings by established conducting legends, but I wish to bring up a more recent account: I have heard mixed reviews about the Mariss Jansons/Oslo recording of the complete Symphonies on Simax (unfortunately, this label is very difficult to find in North America).

Has anyone heard any of these recordings? Apparently the First is very very good.
It'll have to be "very, very good" to go beyond the Giulini/Philharmonia, remember: Grand-Prix-du-Disque...?!

Jack
Consider the superlative "very" a typo on my behalf. I'm not usually so enthusiastic about unknown Scandanavian orchestral recordings. ;)
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Post by Lance » Wed Jun 20, 2007 8:29 pm

I had a TERRIFIC listening experience today. Can you believe it, a 1950s MONO recording of the Brahms Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 68. Rafael Kubelik led the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, as originally recorded by Mercury Records for LP [MG 5007]. Why this recording now? I'm working on my second- or a two-part tribute honoring the birth of Kubelik.

What an orchestra the Chicago was during Kubelik's too brief tenure! Rarely has a symphonic recording made such an impression as this. Yes, I knew the recording but it had awhile between hearings and this was a revelation to hear this work on a perfectly beautiful summer day in Upstate New York. Such sound, such precision, such mastery - even in mono - was hair-raising. Chicago should have kept this guy around for a bit longer, despite the fact that he brought too much "new music" to Chicago, as viewed by critic Claudia Cassidy and others, quite negatively [Kubelik presented about 70 new works during his tenure]. Kubelik needn't have worried ... he went on to things equally as good, especially in Bavaria.

This is an LP-to-CD transfer on the Haydn House private label. The Brahms (all 44:46 minutes) is the only item on the disc, but it is well worth the price ($10) in this superlative transfer, accomplished by Wilfrid Biscay-Pryckre in March 2005. If all LPs can be transferred as well as this, without using the master tapes, this transfer engineer is truly on to something in his remastering techniques. Further, it is surprising, given the interest in Kubelik's years in Chicago, that Mercury Records (now owned by the Universal Group) has never seen fit to reissue this (and other CSO recordings) on their own label. I doubt it would sound as good as this transfer anyway.

This is simply one GORGEOUS First Symphony!
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CharmNewton
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Post by CharmNewton » Wed Jun 20, 2007 9:05 pm

Lance wrote:Further, it is surprising, given the interest in Kubelik's years in Chicago, that Mercury Records (now owned by the Universal Group) has never seen fit to reissue this (and other CSO recordings) on their own label. I doubt it would sound as good as this transfer anyway.

This is simply one GORGEOUS First Symphony!
This performance may have been issued on CD by Japanese Mercury in the mid 1990s. I remember seeing a number of Kubelik/CSO Mercury discs as (expensive) imports at Chicago's Downtown Tower store c 1996. Given the way the Japanese re-issue discs, they probably did all of them, which I believe would fill about six LPs. Antal Dorati made a recording of Schubert's Unfinished with the CSO at this time. I've never heard it, but I would expect it to be pretty snappy and direct.

John

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Post by jserraglio » Thu Jun 21, 2007 6:45 am

I couldnt agree more about Kubelik's Brahms First, part of a 6-disk LP reissue set I love. Funny the way the CSO chewed up and spit out first-class musicians like Kubelik and Martinon.

For anyone who wants to listen first before seeking out whatever commercial transfers are available (Japan & Haydn House), John Wilson & Ramon Khalona recently posted fine-sounding transfers on OperaShare of the Kubelik/CSO recordings sourced from original mono Mercury LPs.

The Brahms is on the first disk.

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Post by Barry » Thu Jun 21, 2007 9:44 am

jserraglio wrote:I couldnt agree more about Kubelik's Brahms First, part of a 6-disk LP reissue set I love. Funny the way the CSO chewed up and spit out first-class musicians like Kubelik and Martinon.
The NY Phil had a similar and also deserved reputation. And now some of us in Philadelphia think the PO are letting a first-class musician go too soon.
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Post by jserraglio » Thu Jun 21, 2007 1:20 pm

Barry Z wrote:the PO are letting a first-class musician go too soon.
They did it to a guy named Stokowski too. Maybe we could return to the days when newspaper music critics vetted the selection of new music directors, then everybody could be unhappy in advance. I read somewhere that Claudia Cassidy squashed any talk of offering the Chicago SOrch to Szell in the early 50s with something like ... "No, not Szell, he's running a temperature. 89 degrees."

Szell v. Cassidy. Now that would have made for an interesting verbal slugfest.

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Post by Barry » Thu Jun 21, 2007 1:26 pm

jserraglio wrote:
Barry Z wrote:the PO are letting a first-class musician go too soon.
They did it to a guy named Stokowski too. Maybe we could return to the days when newspaper music critics vetted the selection of new music directors, then everybody could be unhappy in advance. I read somewhere that Claudia Cassidy squashed any talk of offering the Chicago SOrch to Szell in the early 50s with something like ... "No, not Szell, he's running a temperature. 89 degrees."

Szell v. Cassidy. Now that would have made for an interesting verbal slugfest.
We actually do have a critic in Philly who wrote that hiring Eschenbach was a big mistake when it was announced and hasn't let up on him ever since. I guess he's getting his wish now.
"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." - Abraham Lincoln

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Post by Ken » Thu Jun 21, 2007 3:10 pm

Jserraglio, thanks very much for posting the links to the Kubelik files. I am fetching the Brahms Symphony as we speak and look forward to hearing it!
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Post by Ken » Thu Jun 21, 2007 4:01 pm

What can I say? It's a top-notch recording. I think got a little misty-eyed when the solo horns played their sombre tune in the 'morning' part of the final movement -- the tempo and dynamics were perfect.

Thanks again for sharing these with us!
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Post by Jack Kelso » Fri Jun 22, 2007 12:07 am

keninottawa wrote:What can I say? It's a top-notch recording. I think got a little misty-eyed when the solo horns played their sombre tune in the 'morning' part of the final movement -- the tempo and dynamics were perfect.

Thanks again for sharing these with us!
In all the decades I've been reading about music and musicians I've never once read anything that refers to that horn theme as "morning". Where did you get that from? I'd be interested, since it couldn't have come from the composer himself---he was so much against program music that he wouldn't even tell what his "inspiration" was for the "Tragic Overture", opus 81.

Jack
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Post by Heck148 » Fri Jun 22, 2007 8:50 am

Jack Kelso wrote:
keninottawa wrote:What can I say? It's a top-notch recording. I think got a little misty-eyed when the solo horns played their sombre tune in the 'morning' part of the final movement -- the tempo and dynamics were perfect.
In all the decades I've been reading about music and musicians I've never once read anything that refers to that horn theme as "morning". Where did you get that from?
that may come from critics or conductors....I remember a story regarding a conductor who liked to yak alot at rehearsal - I think it was early Klemperer - he was going on to the the solo horn player about envisioning the beauty of the sunrise, the day's awakening, yada, yada, -
the assistant horn leans over and says - "I think he wants it a little louder" :lol:

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Post by Ken » Fri Jun 22, 2007 10:06 am

Jack, I think I read that this April in the NY Philharmonic programme to the Brahms First concert, although I could be mistaken. I personally feel that the shift from C minor to C major evokes a sensation of an awakening, but I may be stuck up in romantic allusion. ;)

On another Brahms note, I received my Klemperer/Philharmonia Brahms First Symphony disc in the mail yesterday. The first and last movements are very well done, with good drama and tension throughout. The middle movements might be a touch rushed, but the dynamics and colouring are bang-on. Aside from some issues with sound quality (there seems to be overt reverb throughout the recording, and it can be somewhat distracting at times), I was impressed with the disc.
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Post by CharmNewton » Fri Jun 22, 2007 9:40 pm

keninottawa wrote:Jack, I think I read that this April in the NY Philharmonic programme to the Brahms First concert, although I could be mistaken. I personally feel that the shift from C minor to C major evokes a sensation of an awakening, but I may be stuck up in romantic allusion. ;)
You're allusion to morning seems appropriate to me, and the shift from minor to major creates a satisfying effect. A similar shift from minor to major into the coda of the first movement of Bruckner's Seventh likewise gives a subjective feeling of emerging sunshine.

John

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Post by Mark Preece » Mon Jun 25, 2007 10:40 am

I really enjoy the LSO LIVE label, and Brahms symphonies with Colin Davis are quite good. I really enjoy their performance of Brahm's Symphony No. 1 in particular. That opening melodic line filled in with the orchestra... woooh!

They have a lot of really good recordings, at discount prices, all of which are of course... live.
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Post by dirkronk » Mon Jun 25, 2007 11:41 am

Heck148 wrote:
Lance wrote: the Schumann #2 was available on a CSO archival release -

the Reiner Era - Vol 1
there was a volume 2 as well

I just checked the CSO shop site - these two sets were NA. :cry:

I'm so glad I got them while they were hot...
As you'll no doubt recall, Heck, I've drooled openly at many of your comments regarding the CSO archival and assorted noncommercial Reiner recordings (esp. the LvB 4th and 8th symphonies) in the past. Last year, I finally dredged up some discretionary shekels and went to the CSO website...only to discover that the Reiner items I'd seen there in the past were missing in action. Darn.

These now reside on my "someday, if I'm lucky enough at used CD stores" list...along with the Stock/Chicago 2-CD set on Biddulph, the Stock items from the CSO archives, and assorted others. BTW, a number of Biddulph items showed up last week at Berkshire; the 2-CD early Ormandy set I've been wanting was there, but the Stock was NOT in stock. Darn again.

Regarding the CSO archival goodies: do you think it's worth writing the folks there to suggest reissues? Or would I be wasting my time?

Dirk

Heck148
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Post by Heck148 » Mon Jun 25, 2007 2:09 pm

dirkronk wrote:
As you'll no doubt recall, Heck, I've drooled openly at many of your comments regarding the CSO archival and assorted noncommercial Reiner recordings (esp. the LvB 4th and 8th symphonies) in the past. Last year, I finally dredged up some discretionary shekels and went to the CSO website...only to discover that the Reiner items I'd seen there in the past were missing in action. Darn....
Regarding the CSO archival goodies: do you think it's worth writing the folks there to suggest reissues? Or would I be wasting my time?
I think Don Tait, one of the CSO producers, said that they made limited editions of these archival sets - when they are gone, that's it....
however - they obviously still have the originals in the vaults...so reissues would seem to be a possibility, esp if there is a demand..I'd like to see reissues of the LvB Sym #4 and the Haydn #104.
Stock/Chicago 2-CD set on Biddulph, the Stock items from the CSO archives, and assorted others.
The "CSO First Hundred Years" set - 12-disc - is wonderful, and it has some splendid Stock performances in surprisingly good sound - most notably a very solid, well-played Brahms Sym#3, one of my favorites overall.

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the Brahms' symphonies

Post by SONNET CLV » Mon Jun 25, 2007 9:35 pm

Someone made a positive mention of the discs, but not much more is said of the truly wonderful Steinberg/PittsburghSO recordings. Though Steinberg's Symphony No. 2 remains legendary, and some persons' first pick amongst Seconds, the entire set is brilliantly performed ... and I don't just say that because Pittsburgh remains one of my favorite adopted cities and because I've spent some hours in Heinz Hall on symphony nights. But the Steinberg set shouldn't be ignored. I still listen to the COMMAND CLASSICS vinyl discs, which came in a sturdy slip case with the large colorful numbers 1234 on the cover, and a picture of the conductor on the back. If you're lucky, you'll find a VG/NM set of these discs and enjoy analog Brahms at his best.

Still ... I, as others here, advocate that one experiences a number of performances of the major works. Brahms' symphonies, like so much great music, allows for numerous valid interpretations. I own several complete sets and many many individual discs of these four symphonies which remain amongst my favorite symphonic works. I can never get enough Brahms. And I won't ever be satisfied with but one interpretation. The music is too vast to be codified into any single conductor's, orchestra's, or engineer's concept of "perfect Brahms."

So, get as many Brahms discs as you can, and enjoy.

--SONNET CLV (currently listening to Bill McGlaughlin's "Exploring Music" on NPR)--

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Post by jbuck919 » Mon Jun 25, 2007 9:50 pm

A. Welcome to the board, B. Personally I have not found a huge range in the performances of the Brahms symphonies, which seem to suggest their own interpretation, and C. Shakespeare only wrote 154 sonnets, unless you count the one in Romeo and Juliet, which I suppose is the whole point even if I don't happen to get it.

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Re: the Brahms' symphonies

Post by Lance » Mon Jun 25, 2007 9:57 pm

SONNET CLV wrote:Someone made a positive mention of the discs, but not much more is said of the truly wonderful Steinberg/PittsburghSO recordings. Though Steinberg's Symphony No. 2 remains legendary, and some persons' first pick amongst Seconds, the entire set is brilliantly performed ... and I don't just say that because Pittsburgh remains one of my favorite adopted cities and because I've spent some hours in Heinz Hall on symphony nights. But the Steinberg set shouldn't be ignored. I still listen to the COMMAND CLASSICS vinyl discs, which came in a sturdy slip case with the large colorful numbers 1234 on the cover, and a picture of the conductor on the back. If you're lucky, you'll find a VG/NM set of these discs and enjoy analog Brahms at his best.

Still ... I, as others here, advocate that one experiences a number of performances of the major works. Brahms' symphonies, like so much great music, allows for numerous valid interpretations. I own several complete sets and many many individual discs of these four symphonies which remain amongst my favorite symphonic works. I can never get enough Brahms. And I won't ever be satisfied with but one interpretation. The music is too vast to be codified into any single conductor's, orchestra's, or engineer's concept of "perfect Brahms."

So, get as many Brahms discs as you can, and enjoy.

--SONNET CLV (currently listening to Bill McGlaughlin's "Exploring Music" on NPR)--
Yes, I believe it was moi who made mention of the Steinberg performances. I have them on Command LPs, and the two-CD set issued by MCA many years ago - long unavailble. As far as I can recall, I believe these are one and the same performances, all with the Pittsburgh Symphony.

There's just a huge amount of Brahms available and I have so many complete sets, I still go to "single" performances whenever I want to hear one of them. On my radio broadcast on behalf of Rafael Kubelik, I chose his mono Mercury recording since that is one of the most incredible performances I have ever heard on- or off records. Everyone is sure to have their individual favourites. Furtwängler always comes to mind first since his readings are generally the most in-depth ones. There's room for Toscanini, but oddly, you don't hear much about him today.

Anyway, it's nice to have you on board. You write always giving food for thought.
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Post by walboi » Tue Jun 26, 2007 12:48 pm

Well I kick in a little late, but for me the Karajan recording from the seventies were always the mainstay for me. But in fact any version from this conductor gave me much pleasure. Then I guess the Solti recording from the eighties, did much for me.
Would like Gardiner to do the same trick with Brahms, as he did with Beethoven and Schumann. Period instruments.

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Re: brahms/symphony's

Post by sfbugala » Tue Jun 26, 2007 9:17 pm

Barry Z wrote: Otherwise, I agree with the Bruno Walter recommendation for the 2nd and 3rd symphonies. I personally prefer his early 50s New York Philharmonic recordings, but they may be harder to find and more costly than the late 50s Columbia Symphony recordings, which are also quite fine, albeit a bit more subduded.
.
I love the Walter New York set, too. His Third Sym, Mov. IV, is probably my favorite. I like using it as an example to my friends who are classical novices on how tempos can be so different among conducts with the same work. I put that one up against my Masur/NY Phil rendition because the later one is much slower...and because Masur lets out a pretty big grunt midway through the movement that almost needs to belong there. I almost miss it when I don't hear it on others' versions.

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Post by Jack Kelso » Wed Jun 27, 2007 12:24 am

jbuck919 wrote:Personally I have not found a huge range in the performances of the Brahms symphonies, which seem to suggest their own interpretation...
That depends on your experience with recordings. Leinsdorf (fast) and Walter were worlds apart in the First Symphony. Solti takes the repeat of the expo in the 1st mvt of the Second, Kubelik does so in the Third, but Reiner doesn't.

Carlos Kleiber and Walter are (for me) heads and shoulders above the rest for the Fourth.

Unlike the Beethoven and Schumann symphonies, the four of Brahms DO actually "seem to suggest their own interpretation" to some extent, i.e. they are less open to diverse interpretations.

Jack
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Post by Ken » Wed Jun 27, 2007 9:16 am

Does anyone know if Brahms in fact indicated on his scores the desired tempi for his movements (as Beethoven famously did with his symphonies)?
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Post by karlhenning » Wed Jun 27, 2007 9:32 am

keninottawa wrote:Does anyone know if Brahms in fact indicated on his scores the desired tempi for his movements (as Beethoven famously did with his symphonies)?
There are no metronome indications in any of the Brahms symphonies.

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Post by niper » Mon Aug 13, 2007 11:55 am

But, in my opinion, the greatest single MOR (that's middle-of-the-road, abbreviated) performance is the 1960 Bohm recording with the Berlin Phil. Not his later recording as part of a set with the Wiener Phil, though that is good, too, but the earlier, stand-alone recording of 1960 with the BPO. I had it on LP, but didn't know it had been released on CD until I finally found it on the Australian Eloquence reissue label, which is available from Buywell for less than $7 USD + shipping and a small currency conversion fee.

Oh, yes, and welcome to our goofy little group :!:[/quote]Found it(Bohm-brahms 1-st with Berlin phil.orc.-1960 with tragic overture with wienna orchestra )in some mega-store(?!!!-1:100000000,ha-ha). iT is absolutly GREAT performance!

Big thanks ReBlem

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Post by niper » Mon Aug 13, 2007 11:57 am

niper wrote:But, in my opinion, the greatest single MOR (that's middle-of-the-road, abbreviated) performance is the 1960 Bohm recording with the Berlin Phil. Not his later recording as part of a set with the Wiener Phil, though that is good, too, but the earlier, stand-alone recording of 1960 with the BPO. I had it on LP, but didn't know it had been released on CD until I finally found it on the Australian Eloquence reissue label, which is available from Buywell for less than $7 USD + shipping and a small currency conversion fee.

Oh, yes, and welcome to our goofy little group :!:
Found it(Bohm-brahms 1-st with Berlin phil.orc.-1960 with tragic overture with wienna orchestra )in some mega-store(?!!!-1:100000000,ha-ha). iT is absolutly GREAT performance!

Big thanks Reblem[/quote]

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Post by niper » Mon Aug 13, 2007 11:59 am

niper wrote:
niper wrote:But, in my opinion, the greatest single MOR (that's middle-of-the-road, abbreviated) performance is the 1960 Bohm recording with the Berlin Phil. Not his later recording as part of a set with the Wiener Phil, though that is good, too, but the earlier, stand-alone recording of 1960 with the BPO. I had it on LP, but didn't know it had been released on CD until I finally found it on the Australian Eloquence reissue label, which is available from Buywell for less than $7 USD + shipping and a small currency conversion fee.

Oh, yes, and welcome to our goofy little group :!:
Found it(Bohm-brahms 1-st with Berlin phil.orc.-1960 with tragic overture with wienna orchestra )in some mega-store(?!!!-1:100000000,ha-ha). iT is absolutly GREAT performance!

Big thanks RebLem
[/quote]
Waiting for a Kempe(4 sym's.) and Reiner/CSO/Chesky-No.4! Yeahh

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Post by Philoctetes » Mon Aug 13, 2007 12:29 pm

I love the symphonies of Brahms.

My favorite recording would be the Kubelik set.

For me he got that right balance, that moderation, that I really enjoy in my Brahms. I also think he found a sense of richness, that I think some other recordings lack. The brass was full and lush, and everything was quite in order. Overall it was all I had expected, etc.
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Post by Heck148 » Mon Aug 13, 2007 2:33 pm

niper wrote:
waiting for....Reiner/CSO/Chesky-No.4! Yeahh
oops - the Reiner is with thew RoyalPO. that one is totally superb. along with Toscanini/NBC, my favorite performance of Brhms4.
Last edited by Heck148 on Wed Aug 15, 2007 8:56 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by niper » Tue Aug 14, 2007 2:08 am

Heck148 wrote:
niper wrote:
waiting for....Reiner/CSO/Chesky-No.4! Yeahh
that one is totally superb. along with Toscanini/NBC, my favorite performance of Brhms4.
Reiner and CSO involve me in this classical maraton race, just like Oscar Peterson trio(Ray Brown/Thingpen) do it for jazz.My first love! Living Stereo and Verve,...

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Post by Jack Kelso » Tue Aug 14, 2007 2:16 am

niper wrote:
Heck148 wrote:
niper wrote:
waiting for....Reiner/CSO/Chesky-No.4! Yeahh
that one is totally superb. along with Toscanini/NBC, my favorite performance of Brhms4.
Reiner and CSO involve me in this classical maraton race, just like Oscar Peterson trio(Ray Brown/Thingpen) do it for jazz.My first love! Living Stereo and Verve,...
Reiner's Brahms No. 3 with the CSO is even more famous and respected than his 4th with the Royal Phil. No wonder Bernstein became such a fine conductor----with Reiner as teacher!

Jack
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Post by Ken » Tue Aug 14, 2007 8:53 am

Philoctetes, I agree with you there. I've been listening over and over to the Kubelik/CSO Mercury Records LP transfer of Brahms 1 that was posted earlier on in this thread; I can't get enough of the performance. There's a good deal of power and tension in the recording, "ma non troppo". ;)
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Post by rogch » Tue Aug 14, 2007 11:11 am

How about Toscanini's recordings with the Philharmonia orchestra on Testament? Sounds like a winning combination to me. Elisabeth Schwarzkopf claimed in an interview that Toscanini only made one correction during the rehearsals, and we know what a perfectionist he was. But Schwarzkopf is perhaps an unbiased source, she was married to the founder of the orchestra...
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Post by RebLem » Tue Aug 14, 2007 12:49 pm

Jack Kelso wrote:I can't agree with RebLem that the 1st Symphony is the one most open to different interpretations.

I'd say that of the 3rd, since only a few conductors seem to have gotten it right (NO, Bernstein is not one of them---he kills the first movement by dragging it to death!). Reiner/Chicago is STILL in a class by itself. Also Böhm and Kubelik are very fine.

For the 1st, Giulini/Philharmonia or Karajan/Vienna Phil are superb choices. I saw Eugen Jochum/Amsterdam Concertgebouw play it live in L.A. circa 1961----and it didn't get a good review.....too jerky, not solid enough. Maybe he improved his grip on the score after that.

Solti for the 2nd is a good choice, but I love Bruno Walter's (actually, for all 4!). Regretfully, he didn't do the Schumann 4 or more Bruckner.

Carlos Kleiber's 4th is (along with Walter's and Szell's) perhaps the finest of all 4th's.

There are unquestionably many newer recordings out there which I've not yet heard----but you definitely can't go wrong with those I've mentioned.

Really---be careful with Bernstein's Brahms (and Schumann, too). He can be a bit "over-the-top" with those composers.

Tschüß,
Jack
Jack, I think you read something into my statement about the Brahms 1st that just wasn't there, or that, at least, I never intended. The 3rd may well be the most difficult to perform. I am not a musician and am not at all competent to judge that, though I take it as true, since everyone I read who does seem to know what they are talking about says so.

What I said, which you accurately quote, is that the 1st lends itself to different interpretations more than others. Bohm and Szell, to me, are the better MOR performances, especially Bohm, and I am talking about the BPO stand alone 1960 performance, not the later VPO recording that is part of a set of all 4.

Solti's is very dramatic, Toscanini is fleet and ebullient (in the 1951 NBC recording; his 1941 NBC recording is another excellent MOR performance). Furtwangler is ruminative, contemplative, and sad, at least in his 1952 recording.

Please note I made no claim about the 1st being difficult to get right, only that there are a wider variety of valid interpretive stances one can take her than there are with the other symphonies.
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Post by Barry » Tue Aug 14, 2007 1:15 pm

Jack Kelso wrote: I saw Eugen Jochum/Amsterdam Concertgebouw play it (the first) live in L.A. circa 1961----and it didn't get a good review.....too jerky, not solid enough. Maybe he improved his grip on the score after that.
Or maybe it had gone down hill by the time you saw him conduct it :wink: .
His early 50s recording of the Brahms 1st with the BPO is one the best out there IMO.
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Abbado in Brahms

Post by Yi-Peng » Tue Aug 14, 2007 11:53 pm

Dear all,
I'm new to the board and I couldn't find a place to introduce myself. I discovered this forum by accident and thought about joining in. But for my first post here I would like to add something to your discussion on Brahms symphonies.
I do love the Abbado renditions of this cycle and yes I can gladly offer to recommend you his renditions of the middle symphonies. You could also consider Mackerras's lean and characterful versions.
Regards,
Yi-Peng.

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Post by Jack Kelso » Wed Aug 15, 2007 12:07 am

Barry Z wrote:
Jack Kelso wrote: I saw Eugen Jochum/Amsterdam Concertgebouw play it (the first) live in L.A. circa 1961----and it didn't get a good review.....too jerky, not solid enough. Maybe he improved his grip on the score after that.
Or maybe it had gone down hill by the time you saw him conduct it :wink: .
His early 50s recording of the Brahms 1st with the BPO is one the best out there IMO.
....or Jochum was just playing to the audience. Oftentimes a conductor will go a bit "over the top" in live performances.

Jack
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Post by Heck148 » Wed Aug 15, 2007 8:58 am

Jack Kelso wrote: Reiner's Brahms No. 3 with the CSO is even more famous and respected than his 4th with the Royal Phil. No wonder Bernstein became such a fine conductor----with Reiner as teacher!
His live Brahms Sym#2 with the NYPO is dynamite as well. from 3/60...very exciting...

his Tragic Overture is magnificent. again, for me, he shares ther honors with Toscanini/NBC

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