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Sinfonia Domestica/Sym In C Ma

F-Sachsische Staat Konwitschny Audio CD

Price: CDN$ 71.45
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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More Great "Musik" Feb. 12 2006
By Michael B. Richman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
After criticizing a few of the new titles in DG's "Musik...Sprache der Welt" series in recent reviews, I will now lavish praise on some of the remaining ones. It is simply a treasure to have these recordings by conductor Franz Konwitschny available on CD for the first time. Konwitschny recorded sparingly for Deutsche Grammophon in the 1950s, and when he did it was primarily as an accompanist, most notably with David Oistrakh and Wilhelm Kempff (see my review of the pianist's "Original Masters" box set). Yet the recordings featured here show him to be a truly diverse and great conductor. Strauss' Sinfonia Domestica is given a fresh reading that reveals many intricate details ignored in the performances of other podium giants. This 20th century masterpiece is surprisingly paired with Friedrich Witt's "Jena" Symphony, a romantic work first discovered in the early 1900s and originally attributed to Beethoven. All of the recordings are in mono but the sound is so glorious and clear, you'd swear it was in stereo. This is another outstanding release in what is arguably the best historical series for its price on the classical market today.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Valuable for its rarity but also its quality April 7 2012
By Ralph Moore - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Konwitschny isn't that well known to collectors today unless they are familiar with a couple of his recordings like the EMI Tannhäuser made surely before his untimely death (perhaps hastened by alcoholism). Nonetheless, was director of two famous East German orchestras in Leipzig and Dresden and also ran the Berlin State Opera, so he was an important musical figure in the 50's. This recording allows us to hear him in slightly unusual repertoire, directing an excellent performance of a piece which has had a good few recordings but of which only a handful have been really distinguished.

With all due respect to a previous reviewer, I don't think for one minute that one could mistake this hissy, distant mono recording for stereo but it is clear and detailed enough to allow us to hear how subtle, refined and flexible Konwitschny's conducting is; he brings a light touch to this humorous, ironic jeu d'esprit. This is a relaxed, fluid account which nonetheless rises to the big moments - so essential if Strauss the showman is to get his due. The climax of the finale is thrilling with great whooping horns.

The filler is a fairly nondescript classical symphony by Friedrich Witt called the "Jenaer", briefly and erroneously in the 1900's thought to be an early symphony by Beethoven. How, I don't know, as it has none of the hallmarks already apparent in LVB's First; it sounds more like anaemic Haydn, as it is pleasant but without the wit and energy shown very early by that genius.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A faded memory from E. Germany Nov. 5 2007
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
During the darkest years of the Cold War almost no East German conductors were known in the West except for Kurt Sanderling. I have seen Konwitschny's name floating around the edges for some time. Wikipedia informs us that he was nicnamed Kon-whiskey for his heavy drinking, which may also suggest why he died at 61 in 1962. A violist by training (as was Giulini), Konwitschny was among the elite musicians in E. Germany, holding a lont tenure with the Leipzig Gewandhuas and a short one (tow years) with the much finer Dresden Staatskapelle. Given the total destruction of that venerable city by Allied bombing, this mid-Fifties Sinfonia domestica is like a faded memory of a very gray, dismal time.

Happily, the orchestra plays very well, much better than any E. Berlin ensemble of the day (Konwitschny also conducted there at the end of his career), and for execution this CD can hold its head up with notable Sinfonia domesticas from Furtuwangler (in wartime mono) George Szell, Fritz Reiner, and above all, Karajan. It's a fresh, generally swift, highly detailed reading, sharper in focus than most but not with Szell's razor's edge. After all, you can't swallow Strauss's vaid family scenario without a sense of humor. As with all the best readings, Konwitschny gets us to focus on the glories of the music, which is as it should be. Sonics are about average for that era, if a bit distant.

As a filler we get the briefly famous "Jena" symphony that wishful thinking attributed to Beethoven for a time. Under Witt's name it is pleasant and unremarkable post-Mozart classicism. sonics are a bit better than for the main work.

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