£17.43 + £1.26 UK delivery
In stock. Sold by Japan-Select

or
Sign in to turn on 1-Click ordering.
More Buying Choices
Have one to sell? Sell yours here
Sorry, this item is not available in
Image not available for
Colour:
Image not available

 

4 Symphonies

R. Schumann , Levine , Philadelphia Orchestra Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: £17.43
o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o
Only 2 left in stock.
Dispatched from and sold by Japan-Select.

Frequently Bought Together

4 Symphonies + Brahms: Symphony 1-4, Piano Concerto 1, German Requiem
Price For Both: £29.51

These items are dispatched from and sold by different sellers.

Buy the selected items together

Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought


Product details

  • Audio CD (27 Sep 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Sony Classical
  • ASIN: B003XIO8IG
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 241,402 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

4 star
0
3 star
0
2 star
0
1 star
0
5.0 out of 5 stars
5.0 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More treasure from the RCA vaults 24 Aug 2011
By Ralph Moore TOP 50 REVIEWER
These wonderful performances are now available in this bargain box set rather than as two individual discs but if you can find the 1994 German remastered pressings at a good price they will sound to most listeners just as good as the new 24 bit version, as the sound on these recordings was always superb: exceptionally warm, clear, full and detailed, bringing out the virtuosity of the Philadelphia instrumentalists. The strings are exceptionally fluent and articulated in the scurrying figures favoured by Schumann in his allegro passages and the brass is always extraordinarily rounded and generous of tone.

Levine avoids the heaviness affected by Bernstein in his live Vienna recordings. I am aware that some prize Lenny's Schumann and I certainly hear him do things I like, but Bernstein's textures are too thick and his exaggerations in tempo too wilful to embrace the light, mercurial side of Schumann's Romanticism; for me, he makes Schumann sound too Beethovenian, if you like. The worst example of Bernstein's excesses is his absurdly etiolated "Adagio espressivo" which is so "espressivo" that it runs to nearly four minutes over the norm of around ten that we hear from Levine and virtually grinds to halt. By contrast, without in any sense anticipating the leaner, thinner textures of the HIP orchestra, Levine brings continual lift and joie de vivre to his accounts; the miracle lies in how so luscious an orchestral sound is allied with such lightness and spring.

I have only on gripe about Levine's performances and that is with his approach to the "Lebhaft" opening movement of the "Rhenish".
Read more ›
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
45 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Astonishing Performances (and a note on the remastering) 2 Dec 2010
By Fidelio - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
The review from September 2010 is absolutely correct. This set of Schumann's symphonies will rock your world. These recordings (made in 1977 and 1978) deserve to be ranked among the finest ever made of these wondrous romantic works. The Philadelphians are simply glorious, combining the legendary fullness of their orchestral sound with energetic and intelligent muscial phrasing. Levine is on fire--from the opening brass call in the Spring Symphony to the bracing final movement of Sym. 4 (the "Lebhaft" section is taken at a thrillling pace), he exceeds his mentor Szell by a considerable margin. Levine did go on to record another Schumann cycle in Berlin, and while that set is very impressive (albeit rather brightly recorded), this earlier traversal is the one you must hear. RCA (now merged into Sony) has not been a particularly good steward of Levine's early recorded legacy, so it is gratifying to see this landmark cycle get the budget release it has deserved for a long time. I just hope that the Chicago Brahms set will be next!

A note about the remastering: Symphonies 2 and 4 were released by RCA in 2003 with a very problematic remastering. Despite the "24-bit/96kHz" label, the result was a knob-twiddling horror: compressed, souped-up sound and EQ-juiced to an unnatural degree. It's arrestingly loud, to be sure, but you can hear swishy compression artifacts, particularly in the quieter passages for strings. The orchestra just doesn't sound like an orchestra. I assumed, given the small budget that classical recording divisions operate with, that this tarted-up 2003 remastering of 2 and 4 would be included in this current release; however, I'm pleased to report that it was not. These are different remasterings, and in direct comparison with the 2003 release, I can say that Symphonies 2 and 4 have been given a much more respectful and natural remastering.

Highest recommendation.
27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Return of the King: Levine & Philadelphia do Schumann Symphonies - Ah, Beautiful 18 Sep 2010
By drdanfee - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
When I suddenly bumped into the surprise re-release of this favorite former recording of all four of the Schumann symphonies, I was mightily pleased to snap it up right on the spot. First off, the sound of the famously rich-stringed Philadelphia Orchestra is captured very well in this set of recordings. Plus, don't forget the creamy woodwind playing and the burnished sounds of the brass. The combination of James Levine's youthful ardor with Schumann's heroic-lyrical drama and poetry as written into this music is simply not easily matched by the other available recordings. Yes, this is complete. One disc give us symphonies one and three, and two and four occupy the second disc.

Schumann's four symphonies have often been dismissed with faint praise, or even with outright disdain. The orchestrations are frequently faulted, accused of more than a sniff of musical awkwardness or of amateurishness. However, as original or period instrument performances led by Gardiner and by Norrington have revealed only too well in past recordings, the infamous problems of balance among strings, woodwinds, and brass in the orchestra are almost automatically solved by the naturally occurring tonal characteristics of period instruments when these symphonies are played on them.

Having said this, it is patently obvious that the Philadelphia Orchestra is NOT playing here on period or original instruments.

Yet, thanks to the innate performing genius of this renowned orchestra, as well as the leadership genius of conductor James Levine in his remarkable younger years, you forget that there was ever any question about the abilities of dear old Robert Schumann to orchestrate. Everything seems to sing right through and sing right out. Even listeners who regard the Schumann symphonies as flawed music will have to admit that the composer wrote a whole of wonderful stuff into all four symphonies. In these readings, we are destined to receive an impression of abundant musical treasure, all flooding out cleanly and clearly, without muddiness or any impression of faulty musical balances.

Beyond such clarity, the musical narrative is by turns -- vigorous, or moody -- and always moving right along in these interpretations. Tempos are varied, as they should be, but the momentum is never compromised in favor of uber-pseudo-Romantic languishing or in favor of slick virtuoso rushing, when something more forthright and more lovely will do. Solo playing from the different first chair departments of the orchestra is exquisite in tonal beauty, while always being inflected or phrased just so. Some passages swing or sway with the gentlest of melody or texture, while others stomp and shake with the sturdiest purpose. Such beauty and strength may remind us that Schumann was above all a genius of song, and of so much more via these symphonies.

The 24 bit/96 Khz remastering is quite good. If your system tends towards brightness, you may find the Philadelphia strings with a bit more steel in their glitter than you would otherwise like. Perhaps this remasting signals that these gems of the BMG catalogue (inherited/swallowed up from American RCA vaults) will eventually make it to DVD-audio or to SACD, and the altogether wonderful possibilities of a high resolution carrier.

However that may be, don't hesitate to get these performances, now. The fact that their pricing is affordable only makes finding this lost treasure that much more rewarding.

Aside from a brief first release on vinyl, these stellar interpretations (like their companions, the Levine/Chicago Brahms symphonies which also deserve your search efforts) have been absent too many years from the catalog. Even if you haven't before been able to stay the course while listening to the Schumann symphonies, you may discover that this set of performances will do the trick, though others have failed you.

If you already love Schumann's symphonies, then these fulsome big band performances will simply remind you of that attachment, rekindling the fires of the heart and mind with which this music breathes so magically.
Highly, highly recommended, then. Ten Stars.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Schumann In Philadelphia 7 Sep 2011
By Erik North - Published on Amazon.com
Of all the composers whose symphonies have become staples of the classical repertoire throughout the world, it's likely that Robert Schumann comes in for some of the greatest criticism, due to his supposedly opaque way of orchestration, a fact borne out by the fact that, despite a few abortive attempts, he had never really done anything as ambitious in an arena that was defined by Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert; most of his works up to 1841 had been for the piano. In that momentous year of 1841, he composed his First Symphony, the "Spring", in a white-hot flash of inspiration; then, before mental illness began to cripple him, he composed three more. Since his death, many attempts have been made to "realign" his symphonies, with efforts particularly being done by Gustav Mahler and, in the late 1950s, even George Szell.

But as many conductors have seen, it is best to trust Schumann's own vision. James Levine is definitely one of those; and in the late 1970s, he made a superb Schumann symphony cycle for RCA by conducting the great Philadelphia Orchestra in these works. Even after having been led by Leopold Stokowski and then by Eugene Ormandy (who was still the orchestra's music director at the time of these recordings), the Fabulous Philadelphians are probably not the first orchestra you'd think of when it comes to this particular composer, nor would even Levine come to mind as a Schumann conductor (someone like Bernstein, Karajan, or Rafael Kubelik is more likely). Nevertheless, the insight that Levine brought to these sometimes thorny works is well borne out in these performances; and, as Wolfgang Sawallisch did for his Schumann cycle with the Dresden State Orchestra in 1972, he not only follows what Schumann had in mind on the score, but he also takes the feel and the spirit of the piece and makes it live and breathe. His later Deutsche Grammophon cycle with the Berlin Philharmonic is extremely admirable too, but it is in this Philadelphia cycle where Levine shows a solid approach to Schumann that is neither stuck to the ultra-Romantic dogmas of the era of tyrannical kapellmeisters nor to the strict tempo markings and often too rapid musings of the original instruments crowd.

It has been quite a while since this particular Schumann cycle has been available, and thankfully the quality of the re-mastering of these three decade-old recordings by RCA/Sony is more than enough to justify its reappearance on the scene. This is a symphony cycle well worth having.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More Buried Treasure 7 May 2012
By Richard H Branyan - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
The more 70's-80's recordings I hear by James Levine, the more perplexed I am at their neglect when they were first released. There is this oustanding Schumann set, another on DG, two stunning Brahms sets on RCA and DG, and I'm just now hearing about them in 2012! I assume that many who (like me) began collecting classical music at the dawn of the CD era, consulted Penguin guide when choosing a recording. It didn't take me long to figure out their bias: anything by Herbert Von Karajan or a British conductor/orchestra was automatically the best. I don't recall seeing any reviews or recommendations of a James Levine recording other than opera. If they were there at all, they must have been buried among the also-rans of one and two-star ratings.

That said, this Schumann set is marvelous, rather like Levine's mentor George Szell's only in better sound and with more passion. The only reason I don't give it five stars is the recording balance, which favors the strings so heavily that it's hard to hear some important woodwind playing. The recorded sound is actually very good, just unbalanced.

If you love the Schumann symphonies, you will want multiple versions, and this set should be one of them. While not my top choice for the reason I mentioned above, I wouldn't want to be without it either. I'm not sure I have a top recommendation anyway, since all great sets have their individual strengths. I would definitely recommend this set along with others (Szell, Barenboim, Sawallisch) or individual discs (Giulini's 3rd, Furtwangler's 4th). I haven't heard Levine's Berlin versions, but I'm sure they're in my future.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More treasure from the RCA vaults 13 April 2011
By Ralph Moore - Published on Amazon.com
These wonderful performances are now available in a bargain box set rather than as two individual discs but if you can find the 1994 German remastered pressings at a good price they will sound to most listeners just as good as the new 24 bit version, as the sound on these recordings was always superb: exceptionally warm, clear, full and detailed, bringing out the virtuosity of the Philadelphia instrumentalists. The strings are exceptionally fluent and articulated in the scurrying figures favoured by Schumann in his allegro passages and the brass is always extraordinarily rounded and generous of tone.

Levine avoids the heaviness affected by Bernstein in his live Vienna recordings. I am aware that some prize Lenny's Schumann and I certainly hear him do things I like, but Bernstein's textures are too thick and his exaggerations in tempo too wilful to embrace the light, mercurial side of Schumann's Romanticism; for me, he makes Schumann sound too Beethovenian, if you like. The worst example of Bernstein's excesses is his absurdly etiolated "Adagio espressivo" which is so "espressivo" that it runs to nearly four minutes over the norm of around ten that we hear from Levine and virtually grinds to halt. By contrast, without in any sense anticipating the leaner, thinner textures of the HIP orchestra, Levine brings continual lift and joie de vivre to his accounts; the miracle lies in how so luscious an orchestral sound is allied with such lightness and spring.

I have only on gripe about Levine's performances and that is with his approach to the "Lebhaft" opening movement of the "Rhenish". This is highlighted by comparison with another set of Schumann symphonies on the super-bargain ASV Quicksilva label by Marek Janowski with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic: his more exaggerated dotted rhythms and a faster tempo really invigorate that opening in a way that no other recording I know does. Nobody seems to know or mention those Janowski discs and it is true that the sound (despite being DDD) is not as warm and the playing not as striking as the Philadelphians under Levine, but I prefer them as interpretations to Bernstein's.

These are performances to remind you that Schumann was a lyric Romantic who veers from heroic declamation to dreamy delicacy; his music does not need a heavy hand to make it sing and the empathy between conductor and orchestra here ensures that not once while listening to them play this music does the old accusation of muddy orchestration occur to the listener. Levine might, later in his career, occasionally have been guilty of bombast and ponderousness, but here he effortlessly maintains the chiaroscuro balance required.

This is another of several treasurable reissues by Sony of Levine in his youthful glory directing first class American orchestras and the LSO; try the box sets of his Mahler and Brahms from the same source.
Were these reviews helpful?   Let us know
Search Customer Reviews
Only search this product's reviews

Customer Discussions

This product's forum
Discussion Replies Latest Post
No discussions yet

Ask questions, Share opinions, Gain insight
Start a new discussion
Topic:
First post:
Prompts for sign-in
 

Search Customer Discussions
Search all Amazon discussions
   


What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?


Look for similar items by category


Feedback