Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Brahms - The Complete Symphonies - Sawallisch, Wiener Symphoniker

 


 

 

 

 

Review:

Wolfgang Sawallisch, active as a conductor since 1947 he is now - at the age of 86 - very much an elder statesman of music and something of a legend in Philadelphia, with whose fine orchestra he spent his autumn years from 1993 to 2003. More to the point he is actually one of the twentieth century's supreme interpreters of Schumann, Bruckner and Richard Strauss, in many ways comparable to Günter Wand, whose sense for musical truth he always shared. Oddly enough his recordings of the Brahms symphonies (this one, and the one he made for EMI from 1989 to 1991 as well) have never been awarded any serious attention, an oversight I hereby hasten to remedy.

image Though always performing in the shadow of their cousins in the "Philharmonic" the Vienna Symphony is a fine orchestra, and in these inspired performances Sawallisch literally has every man jack playing fit to bleed from the cuticles. Though tempi are never rushed there is an intensity to every movement of these masterpieces that I have rarely encountered before or since, and the finale of the E minor symphony in particular takes us to dramatic heights that I think would have made even Furtwängler proud. The same is very much true for the finale of the D major symphony - played perfectly "molto ben marcato", and rivaled only by Takashi Asahina in his live recording, made when he was almost 90! - which rips open the indolence of that often rather leisurely pastoral work, letting fresh air sweep through every room.

The sound of these Philips re-mastering is very good and though the recording, true to its origins in the early 60's, is fairly closely recorded, is never too much. The various instrument sections are remarkably well defined.

 

flac, scans

1 comment:

  1. Hi dear Otto, unfortunately part 1 is missing from FileFactory... any chance of a repost? TIA

    ReplyDelete

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