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Great Perf: Symphony No.1 [Original recording remastered]

George Szell , Brahms Johannes Audio CD

Price: CDN$ 9.49 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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1. Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 68; I. Un poco sostenuto - Allegro
2. Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 68; II. Andante sostenuto
3. Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 68; III. Un poco allegretto e grazioso
4. Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 68; IV. Adagio - Allegro non troppo ma con brio
5. Variations on a Theme of Haydn, Op. 56a in B-flat Major
6. Five Hungarian Dances; No. 17 in F-sharp minor
7. Five Hungarian Dances; No. 18 in D Major
8. Five Hungarian Dances; No. 19 in B minor
9. Five Hungarian Dances; No. 20 in E minor
10. Five Hungarian Dances; No. 21 in E minor

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Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Szell, Excellent Ormandy Sept. 1 2006
By Xyp - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
This is classic George Szell. In fact, this performance of the Brahms 1st takes its place near the top of the heap amongst some very stiff competition: it is a great performance and an excellent addition to any collection, especially at mid-price. All the Szell discipline is on full display here- if you're looking for the a bit more overt emotion, try Bruno Walter or Otto Klemperer, as they both turn in ectsatic and soulful readings. Szell's take has a quicker, drier, and more immediate feel to it, but he totally makes it work: in my opinion that goes for just about everything he performed (there was a reason he is known for his precision). The Ormandy performances of the Hungarian Dances are equally rewarding, played with Philadephia's shining flourish. Classic.

For this reissue, the Sony DSD remastering process has very artfully restored the full range of sonics to this recording from the somewhat compressed original master. What an improvment! Highly recommended- let's hope Sony decides to give the rest of Szell's Brahms the same treatment.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Splendid remastering of a taut Brahms First from Szell Aug. 23 2006
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
In my experience, only Toscanini led the Brahms First with more tension and drive, but the closest approximation is this classic Szell performance, which has been widely admired for over four decades. There has been a budget issue since 1991, in indifferent sound. As of August, 2006, there's this new DSD version in Sony's best remastering technique. Szell's conducting, as always, is disciplined and devoid of rubato or sentimental softness. The secret when the reins are held this tight is to propel the music forward as if in one breath, never letting the stainless steel thread snap.

It's an unconventional way to approach Brahms but a bracing one. Fortunately, Szell doesn't lapse into rigid time-beating: this reading is alive inside, full of dramatic events in every movement. The Cleveland Orch. plays with great power and transparency, and the refurbished sonics are twice as good as they ever were on Epic lPs when this recording first appeared. Of a piece is Szell's highly controlled reading of the Haydn Vairations. Curiously, in both this version and the new reissue, Sony has tacked on five Hungarian Dances by Ormandy, which don't sound like they even come from the same planet as Szell's Brahms but make nice listening.

P.S. 2013 - A commenter on another review points out that Szell made an earlier stereo recording of the Brahms First in 1957, which can be found at amazon, with a blue-and-gray cover, as Vol. 3 of he George Szell Edition. I've also reviewed an excellent live reading under Szell at the Lucerne Festival, released by ICA.
4.0 out of 5 stars Still Making up my Mind, Sort Of Dec 27 2012
By J. R. Trtek - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Perhaps I should have waited a bit to write this brief review, because I'm still in the process of thinking about this performance of the Brahms First Symphony, a remastering of one installment in his recording of the composer's four symphonies with the Cleveland Orchestra. For a full Brahms cycle, my current preference is Bernstein with the New York Philharmonic on Sony -- a set of recordings that have heft and yet retain a good dose of humanity as we climb the mountains. If you prefer pure granite, then I would go with the classic Klemperer set on EMI. This Szell rendition, on the other hand, seems to go off in another set of dimensions, and I don't mean that as a criticism. There isn't the dose of vulnerable humanity that touches the Bernstein, and yet this relative absence of personal scale doesn't mean we're left with Klemperer's steep and rocky cliffs either. Much of the work, particularly the final movement, is taken rather fast, something which at first I found off putting but to which I've become accustomed after repeated listening. In a way, in this performance the Brahms First Symphony is rendered almost as if the early Romantic period had never happened, as if we'd gone straight from the Classical era of Haydn and Mozart straight into the second half of the 19th Century, bypassing Schumann and Weber and the like. So far, the recording is growing on me -- I don't know that it will ever surpass Bernstein, or Klemperer on my more expansive days, but I like it for its different take on a familiar work. And the Haydn Variations benefit from the same sensibility.
5 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Remastering Botch job in Haydn Variations Jan. 2 2009
By musicdoc - Published on Amazon.com
Warning...The Haydn Variations omits a repeat in the Theme that is present in the "Essential Classics" version. This version runs 17:02 and the EC versions runs 17:30. Download that version if you want the whole thing!
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