Friday, December 3, 2010

Schumann – The 4 Symphonies – Leonard Bernstein , New York Philharmonic Orchestra







It's surprising that mention is still made of the difficulties conductors allegedly have with Schumann's so-called "muddy" orchestration when these recordings (and several others) have been kicking around for nearly 50 years. The Third in this set has always been a favorite, with excellent playing and genuine atmosphere, but the other symphonies, and the Manfred, I discovered to be equally fine.

True to Bernstein of this era there's lots of fire and attention to inner detail but few of the eccentricities he was prone to in some later recordings. The adagio of the Second is taken slowly and this might be a harbinger of things to come, but it works well here and was probably very thrilling back in the Sixties when these were first around. Although the contemporaneous Szell set is universally praised and I love it for it's unsurpassed beer and schnitzel Germanic qualities, this one is more exciting and probably will appeal to contemporary audiences a hair more (although you really shouldn't live without Szell if you love Schumann). It's not quite as hair-raisingly energetic as the Paray set from the same era--released on Mercury and temporarily out of print--but it's better recorded and I think possibly a bit better played here. (The Paray is still mandatory too!). All in all this strikes me as the best of all the available older integral recordings of these works. I prefer the older recordings too because they always seem to have more of what I can best describe as "feeling." A real gem.



flac, scans


  1. Thank you so much for this fabulous post! As a youngster I bought the 4th not long after it was released.

    However, Part 07 seems to be missing. I used jDownloader which downloaded all the other parts but indicated a problem with Part 07. Going directly to FileFactory's site, clicking Part 07 resulted in this statement:

    "Unfortunately we have encountered a problem locating your file. You may wish to contact the owner / uploader of the file to get it re-uploaded again".

    I'll keep trying Part 07 -- maybe the problem is a temporary FileFactory glitch.

    Thanks again for this wonderful Schumann set!

  2. After a day of jDownloader continually attempting to download Part 07 it finally came through!

    Thank you! Now on to listening!




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