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Bruno Walter Conducts Mozart Box set

Price: £11.75 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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£11.75 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details Only 14 left in stock (more on the way). Dispatched from and sold by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.

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Product details

  • Performer: Bruno Walter
  • Audio CD (29 Aug. 2011)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 6
  • Format: Box set
  • Label: Sony Classical
  • ASIN: B0056K4VRM
  • Other Editions: Audio CD
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 178,877 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Product Description

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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Music Lover on 11 Oct. 2011
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful collection of Bruno Walter's Mozart performances on Sony. The symphonies are "big band" but none the worse for that. This is Mozart playing which is no longer considered "fashionable", but is just as valid as, say, the more recent Mackerras readings on Linn. I love them both. I was unfamiliar with this recording of the Requiem, but, frankly, the sound isn't up to much despite boasting 24 bit on the box. In fact, I wonder if these transfers do full justice to the performances. In comparison with an earlier reissue on CD, the last six symphonies sound uncomfortably bright, and I shall not be parting with those older transfers which sound much sweeter to my ears. I have only given four stars because I am not convinced by the latest remastering. The other reason, I have with-held a star is for the cavalier attitude Sony/BMG has to its precious back catalogue of recordings. The box contains nothing but the discs in cardboard sleeves. Not a word about the music or these wonderful performances. This is a common feature of the entire series. It's a shameful way to treat such jewels of recorded history. Sony/BMG should be shamed of themselves.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By J. Gibbons TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 16 July 2013
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Bruno Walter's loving humanity made him stand out from other conductors active during the first half of the last century and we are fortunate so much of his work was recorded in excellent sound during his 'Indian Summer'.

This Mozart collection contains some splendid performances. The last six symphonies, overtures, and the Masonic Funeral Music are the stereo versions with the Columbia Symphony Orchestra and sound wonderful. This may be 'big band' Mozart but Walter's phrasing, perfect choice of tempo, and loving shaping of the music results in versions of these familiar works that are deeply satisfying. Although Walter observes few repeats, they remain amongst the finest in the catalogue. The same can be said for the earlier mono recordings of Symphonies 25,28, and 29 and, in stereo this time, the 3rd and 4th Violin Concertos. These latter are beautifully performed by Zino Francescatti - a violinist completely in tune with Walter's approach to Mozart.

The performance of the Requiem is beautifully sung and performed with splendid contributions from the NYPSO and, amongst the soloists, Irmgard Seefried and Leopold Simoneau. However the recording quality here is not as good as on the other discs.

This excellent collection is completed with a lovingly performed version of 'Eine Kleine Nachtmusic' and some German Dances and Minuets (very pleasant but not essential). The remastering, whilst not being 'state of the art', is perfectly acceptable and the packaging sturdy and practical. The lack of booklet notes is understandable in an economy reissue.

The fact that the set contains many performances that are different to those included in the 'Bruno Walter Edition' makes it an essential purchase for all serious collectors. However the fine quality of the music making ensures that it can be recommended without reservation to all Mozartians.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 10 reviews
83 of 91 people found the following review helpful
Sony Kicks Bruno Walter When He's Down, episode 14 30 April 2012
By pclaudel - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Another gentleman reviewing this set has called it a steal. The price, though undeniably enticing, is not the only thing about the set that screams CHEAP. The real steal, in some ways the only steal, is that of the consumer's cash, taken in return for third-rate transfers of well-produced stereo recordings from 1960 and thereabouts.

Of the symphonies, the best-sounding of the present lot are the two recordings that always sounded the best: the Haffner and the Jupiter. Still, absence of surface noise aside, neither sounds better than the LP originals, which were singled out as remarkably good products at their initial release. What is more, neither these two symphonies nor 38, 39, and 40 sound as good as earlier Sony CD releases from the mid-eighties and early nineties. After having done numerous A-B comparisons of them all, I can report that in this new edition the latter three works sound like pressings made from a copy of the production master for the older Legendary Interpretations set. Tonal balance and relative instrumental prominence are the same, but all the newer discs have a slight to noticeable veil over the music, a veil not present earlier. It's a safe bet that the new pressings were not made from the original masters or first-generation copies.

Worst for last: the remastering of the Linz Symphony is simply horrible. Imagine that someone made a cassette dubbing, on supercheap Type 1 tape, of his dad's scratchy old LP, already played a thousand times. Then he handed the cassette over to the chief of marketing at SonyUSA. He in turn gave it to the producer of this set and said, "Hey, Irv, use this thing to make the production master; the idiot buyers will never notice."

Of the other releases of this recording that I own--four in all: two LPs and two CDs--the two best are the remastered Japanese Sony LP from the late seventies and the very first domestic CBS CD (MK42027), which was produced from the Japanese LP master. Both are vastly superior to the Linz in this set, which I shall never listen to again. Anyone who thinks (1) that this stereo Linz recording is the best interpretation among Walter's three available recordings (counting the ubiquitous 1956 Paris aircheck), (2) that this is the Mozart symphony he did best of all, and (3) that no one has ever done the Linz as well as Walter--my own hand is up in all three cases--will be reduced to tears of frustration by the present issue.

Incidentally, I have heard but never owned two releases of the stereo Linz that are measurably superior to all others. The first is the original open-reel tape corresponding to the stereo LP release of fifty years ago (DDD idolaters will bitterly complain about the very low but steady background tape hiss, of course). The second is the current Japanese high-tech remastering (not SACD, alas), but just thinking about it leaves me feeling too strapped to buy lunch.

It is sad that Sony's American and European branches now treat this conductor's legacy with such open contempt. When one compares the solicitude with which RCA, DG, and EMI have treated their archives of Toscanini (for the first-named company) and Furtwängler recordings (for the latter two), Sony's attitude becomes truly scandalous.

This conclusion is, if anything, exacerbated by the fact that the Japanese Sony remasterings and re-releases of the Walter material over the decades have been stupendously good, true state-of-the-art products. The problem for anyone on this side of the Pacific, of course, is that he needs to phone his financial adviser before daring to invest in any of them.

The other recordings duplicated herein are happily not so badly handled, yet even so my A-B comparisons show that they utilize copies of earlier masters (some from the long-departed Bruno Walter Edition) rather than those masters themselves. Nothing stands as the equal of an earlier release, let alone an improvement on it. The Requiem is a case in point. The BW edition had succeeded in finally, after forty years, letting some light shine through the aural murk and fog of Carnegie Hall, this recording's venue; the present CD, unfortunately, restores about half of the tenebrous gloom. Still, the interpretation is profound, the orchestra brilliant, and the singing of Irmgard Seefried and Léopold Simoneau seldom matched. The violin concerto recordings, with Zino Francescatti the perfect partner, are also not a disappointment; indeed, they are the least impaired of all the tapings reproduced in this set.

Those unfamiliar with Bruno Walter's conducting may be wondering, "Why the fuss?" The answer: because aside from the G minor (K. 550), all the symphonies receive great performances, in a style that is inimitably individual yet formed in a tradition now, alas, dead as the dodo. Even the G minor is well worth an audition, but the way Walter hears this music seems oddly ablated from its plain-as-day dramatic implications. All four of his commercial recordings, recorded over a span of thirty-plus years, are similar, whatever their incidental differences of tempo (though even here, despite the impression of greater energy that their more animated tempi bring, none of the earlier performances are as attentive to important details of phrasing and color as the present one). Several airchecks of his frequent live performances are preferable, in that they seem truer to what is on the page. The Concertgebouw performance of June 19, 1952, available on Music & Arts and other labels, is one of a number that show that Walter could call forth this music's dramatic potential without scanting its myriad subtleties.

To conclude, listeners who already own CDs containing earlier transfers of the works included here should know that tearing up dollar bills and tossing them to the winds would be more advisable than doing what I did: spend never-to-be-recovered cash on this disappointing reissue. It is certainly recommendable to those who have no other purchasing option, but one does no service to newcomers to Walter's recordings to insist, contrary to all the evidence, that they are getting what they have every right to expect for their money: the best transfers available.

Update (March 9, 2015): Late last year, I finally became the owner of a copy of the Japanese high-tech remastering of the Linz Symphony (plus no. 39) mentioned above. I was lucky enough to get it used from a Marketplace reseller who, remarkably, was asking less than twenty dollars. It frequently runs to what one might pay for a bottle of vintage claret.

All that is worth saying about this disc is that it exhausts superlatives. Since it existed before the present box of CDs was produced, the question that remains is why couldn't Sony have used this issue, along with other current Japanese releases of Walter's Mozart recordings, as the basis for the set under review?
23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
A fine reissue of glorious music-making 24 May 2012
By S. H. Smith - Published on
Format: Audio CD
I have enjoyed listening to these recordings for several months and was very surprised by pclaudel's negative review. I have since carefully listened to each of the six CDs and find no basis whatever for that reviewer's concerns. Indeed, the recording of the Linz symphony is superb, quite comparable to the other wonderful recordings of Mozart's last symphonies that Bruno Walter made in California in 1959 and 1960. A few of the pieces in this set, the Requiem and symphonies 25, 28, and 29 are earlier mono recordings and don't have the clarity of the later recordings. Even these, however, are good transfers and are certainly listenable.

I note that pclaudel refers to "Sony USA" in his review. My set's package and individual discs say, "Made in the E. U." I wouldn't have thought that there would be inferior transfers in identical packaging sold in the U. S., but of course I can't be sure of that.

Bottom line: I find this set a most rewarding experience and an honest group of transfers of Bruno Walter's Mozart.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
The magic of humanity 15 Oct. 2012
By David Diamond - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
If you are even considering buying this, just go ahead and get it. I have loved Mozart and Walter for years, and the insight of the latter into the former is nothing short of magical. Walter, as always, and particularly in his last years, when most of these stereo recordings were made, always illuminates the mystical in the music in a unique way. He has an uncanny ability to inspire his orchestra - regardless of which orchestra it is - to share in his own deeply committed vision of what he sees as the music's message, and the dividends are especially great in Mozart's last three symphonies, as well as the requiem.

I heartily recommend this incredibly cheap collection, though I suggest supplementing it with Mozart: Symphonies 39, 40 & 41 "Jupiter", which are Walter's earlier mono takes of these late symphonies. While the stereo versions included in the set under discussion emanate a mysterious autumnal relation to the otherworldly, the earlier accounts feature more robust playing and a more intimately familiar response from Walter's own longtime orchestra, the NY Philharmonic.

That having being said, I recommend this set without reservation.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Remasterings that provide nothing new 27 Nov. 2013
By James A. Altena - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Despite advertising 24-bit remastering, these CDs do not sound one whit different from the original Columbia and Odyssey CD releases -- which means that the high level of background tape hiss remains. As for the performances, they have Walter's unique glow in Mozart, but even better are his earlier monaural performances with the New York Philharmonic, released in superior remasterings in the "Bruno Walter Edition" series (now re-released as a boxed set). In short, this is a nice set at a cheap price for someone who doesn't already have Walter's Mozart symphony recordings, but for anyone who does it is superfluous.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
A Variable Bargain ... some outstanding symphonies 27 Aug. 2012
By Lee A. Steels - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The highlights here are the "Linz", "Prague", and "Jupiter" symphonies which are miraculous performances (although there is an almost inaudible low pitch hum in two of them). The overtures and "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik" are also outstanding. All of these are definitely five stars! Bruno Walter was over 80 when he conducted these in the late 50's but the Columbia Symphony Orchestra responds with elegant yet powerful performances which have rarely been equaled. Listen to the opening movement of the "Prague" on CD2 for a miracle of recording. The only conductor who could come close to this is Charles MacKerras with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.
The Requiem on CD4 is in mono and cannot stand up to modern recordings such as Abbado and Colin Davis. I'm afraid it would rate maybe one star to my ears.
At the price of this set, it's a mostly outstanding bargain and I wouldn't hesitate to add it to your collection, especially if you haven't heard Bruno Walter's wonderful way with Mozart.
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