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Friday, October 30, 2015

Ludwig van Beethoven; Jean Sibelius - Symphonies (George Szell)


Composer: Ludwig van Beethoven; Jean Sibelius
  1. Beethoven - Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67: 1. Allegro con brio
  2. Beethoven - Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67: 2. Andante con moto
  3. Beethoven - Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67: 3. Allegro
  4. Beethoven - Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67: 4. Allegro
  5. Sibelius - Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 43: 1. Allegretto - Poco allegro - Tranquillo, ma poco a poco ravvivando il tempo al allegro
  6. Sibelius - Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 43: 2. Tempo andante, ma rubato - Andante sostenuto
  7. Sibelius - Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 43: 3. Vivacissimo - Lento e suave - Largamente
  8. Sibelius - Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 43: 4. Finale (Allegro moderato)

Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
George Szell, conductor

Date: 1964 (Sibelius), 1966 (Beethoven)
Label: Philips



The excellence of these two famous performances hasn’t diminished a bit over time. George Szell’s Beethoven Fifth exists in three versions: this one; another with the Cleveland Orchestra on Sony; and (finest of all) one with the Vienna Philharmonic live from the Salzburg Festival on Orfeo. Talk about an embarrassment of riches! It’s really pointless to dwell on minute variations in interpretation or playing: all three recordings represent a surpassingly high level of achievement, from the taught opening and generously “con moto” Andante, right through the grim scherzo to the explosive finale. It’s simply great Beethoven.

Szell’s Sibelius Second has stood as a reference edition of the score since the day the recording was made. Once again, there is a live rendition (with Cleveland made on tour in Tokyo) that arguably surpasses this one in some respects, but at present it’s only available on a limited basis from Japanese Sony, and hearing this dazzling recording, with it’s warmly glowing strings, perfectly judged first movement climax, jaggedly brilliant brass in the second movement, sizzling scherzo, and effortlessly grand finale, it’s easy to forget all about any other performance you might have heard or currently own. Frankly, no other even approaches Szell’s knockout combination of discipline and excitement, though some (such as Barbirolli’s on Chesky or Bernstein’s on Sony) offer a marginally greater sense of spontaneity, albeit with markedly less spectacular playing.

Sonically, this remastering sounds exactly the same as the “Early Years” two-disc set containing all of Szell’s Concertgebouw recordings for Philips (also available from Musical Heritage Society), which is to say it’s noticeably better than the overly dry, “CEDAR-ized” first CD issue. In fact, the engineering on display here compares favorably with today’s best. Classics in every sense of the word, these two performances deserve an honored place in even the most minuscule collection of music by either composer.

-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday

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Ludwig van Beethoven (baptized 17 December 1770 – 26 March 1827) was a German composer and pianist. A crucial figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras in Western art music, he remains one of the most famous and influential of all composers. His best-known compositions include 9 symphonies, 5 piano concertos, 1 violin concerto, 32 piano sonatas, 16 string quartets, his great Mass the Missa solemnis and an opera, Fidelio. Beethoven is acknowledged as one of the giants of classical music.


Jean Sibelius (8 December 1865 – 20 September 1957) was a Finnish violinist and composer of the late Romantic period. His music contributed to the development of a feeling of national identity in Finland where he is now celebrated as the country's greatest composer. Sibelius is mostly known for his seven symphonies, the violin concerto and the tone poems such as Finlandia. He almost completely stopped composing after 1920s and did not produce any large-scale works in his last thirty years.


George Szell (June 7, 1897 – July 30, 1970) was a Hungarian-born American conductor and composer. He is widely considered one of the twentieth century's greatest conductors. Szell is remembered today for his long and successful tenure as music director of the Cleveland Orchestra (1946-1970), and for his recordings of the standard classical repertoire he made in Cleveland and with other orchestras, mostly for Epic/Columbia Masterworks. Szell was also well-known for his autocratic manner in rehearsal and his reputation as a perfectionist.


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Richard Wagner - Great Scenes from ''Der Ring des Nibelungen'' (Georg Solti)


Composer: Richard Wagner

  1. Das Rheingold - Scene 1: Prelude - Rhinemaidens' Song - Alberich's Curse
  2. Das Rheingold - Scene 4: Entry of the Gods into Valhalla
  3. Die Walküre - Act I: Siegmund Spring Song - Duet with Sieglinde
  4. Die Walküre - Act III: Ride of the Valkyries
  5. Die Walküre - Act III: Wotan's Farewell - Magic Fire Music
  1. Siegfried - Act I: Forging Scene
  2. Siegfried - Act II: Forest Murmurs
  3. Götterdämmerung - Prologue: Dawn - Siegfried's Rhine Journey
  4. Götterdämmerung - Act III: Siegfried's Funeral March
  5. Götterdämmerung - Act III: Brünnhilde's Immolation Scene

Birgit Nilsson, soprano
Régine Crespin, soprano
Wolfgang Windgassen, tenor
Gerhard Stolze, tenor
James King, tenor
Hans Hotter, bass

Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Georg Solti, conductor

Date: 1958-1965
Label: Decca

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Friday, October 16, 2015

Ottorino Respighi - Concerto gregoriano; Concerto all'antica (Andrea Cappelletti)


Composer: Ottorino Respighi
  1. Concerto gregoriano, for violin & orchestra: I. Andante tranquillo
  2. Concerto gregoriano, for violin & orchestra: II. Andante espressivo e sostenuto
  3. Concerto gregoriano, for violin & orchestra: III. Finale (Allelulia): Allegro energico
  4. Concerto all'antica, for violin & orchestra: I. Allegro
  5. Concerto all'antica, for violin & orchestra: II. Adagio non troppo
  6. Concerto all'antica, for violin & orchestra: III. Scherzo: Vivace - Tempo di minuetto - Vivace

Andrea Cappelletti, violin
Philharmonia Orchestra
Matthias Bamert, conductor

Date: 1993
Label: Koch Schwann