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George Szell Conducts Dvorak & Brahms

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Product details

  • Conductor: George Szell
  • Composer: Johannes Brahms, Antonin Dvorak
  • Audio CD (30 Sept. 2013)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Audite
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 320,818 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Song TitleArtist Time Price
Listen  1. Symphony No. 8 in G Major, Op. 88: I. Allegro con brio (Live)Czech Philharmonic Orchestra & George Szell10:50£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  2. Symphony No. 8 in G Major, Op. 88: II. Adagio (Live)Czech Philharmonic Orchestra & George Szell10:33£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  3. Symphony No. 8 in G Major, Op. 88: III. Allegretto grazioso (Live)Czech Philharmonic Orchestra & George Szell 6:36£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  4. Symphony No. 8 in G Major, Op. 88: IV. Finale. Allegro, Ma non troppo (Live)Czech Philharmonic Orchestra & George Szell 9:58£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  5. Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 68: I. Un poco sostenuto - Allegro - Meno allegro (Live)Schweizerisches Festspielorchester & George Szell13:28£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  6. Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 68: II. Andante sostenuto (Live)Schweizerisches Festspielorchester & George Szell 9:07£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  7. Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 68: III. Un poco allegretto e grazioso (Live)Schweizerisches Festspielorchester & George Szell 4:25£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  8. Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 68: IV. Adagio - Più andante - Allegro non troppo, Ma con brio - Più allegro (Live)Schweizerisches Festspielorchester & George Szell16:04£0.79  Buy MP3 

Product Description

Rhythmic precision, formal awareness, absolute faithfulness to the work and razor-sharp orchestral control: George Szell (1897-1970) is seen as one of the great orchestral disciplinarians of the 20th-century, as a superior musical director and an uncompromising perfectionist: a reputation which he gained, first and foremost, during his 24 years as music director of the Cleveland Orchestra, which he formed into one of the world s finest ensembles. The musical roots of the Hungarian-born conductor, however, are in the 'Old World', and after the Second World War he was one of the first musicians in American exile to return to Europe for concerts. During the '50s and '60, George Szell regularly appeared at Lucerne Festival. The concert recordings presented here, both of which are first releases, encompass two works central to his repertoire. In 1962, the 'anti-romantic and master of precision' (Harold C. Schonberg), alongside the Swiss Festival Orchestra, achieved a powerful and intensely determined interpretation of Brahms First Symphony: the transparently played, chamber-like middle movements are framed by outer movements full of suspense. In the summer of 1969, one year after the violent defeat of the 'Prague Spring', Szell was reunited with the Czech Philharmonic in Lucerne. He had worked with the orchestra as early as the 1930s during his tenure at the New German Theatre in Prague. His thrillingly energetic reading of the Eighth Symphony by Antonín Dvorák enthused the audience and critics in equal measure. According to the Neue Zürcher Zeitung: 'Szell s art of expressive tempo modification, preparing, building towards and resolving formal and dynamic tensions was demonstrated to such an extent that the entire symphony, from the beginning, seemed to have been lifted onto a higher level'. Both recordings demonstrate that Szell s concert recordings are particularly appealing, thanks to his willingness to take risks, lively musical flow and heightened emotional content: in contrast to his perfectly balanced studio recordings.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By Mr. Austen Biss on 21 July 2014
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Stupendous! A cd issue to treasure.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 1 review
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Five stars for a great live Brahms First, even if the Dvorak is disappointing 21 Sept. 2013
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on
Audite is one of the best re-issue labels in Germany, known for thoroughly exploring a musician like Ferenc Fricsay or Furtwangler in long series of live recordings made form original sources. In one of their newest series they are plumbing the archives of the prestigious Lucerne Festival in Switzerland (which is currently at a high point thanks to Claudio Abbado's direction of the festival orchestra). Among the first releases is this one with George Szell. Here are the relevant dates and performers:

Brahms: Symphony No. 1
Kunsthaus Lucerne, August 29, 1962
Swiss Festival Orchestra

Dvorak: Symphony No. 8
Kunsthaus Lucerne, August 30, 1969
Czech Philharmonic Orchestra

At first glance, considering Szell's eminence in Dvorak, you'd expect special from the Czech Phil. performing the Eighth Sym., but Szell was already ill, and this reading is unexpectedly relaxed, even slack. It's nicely played and held together, but the absence of vitality makes it a non-starter. The stereo sound form 1969 is quite good, almost studio quality, and the audience is all but silent.

The Brahms First is another, happier matter. I can't tell if the sound is mono or narrowly focused stereo, but it's full and natural if not in the same class as the Dvorak. The year is 1962, and Szell, who had made an acclaimed Brahms cycle with his Cleveland Orch. was at the height of his powers. The Swiss Festival Orch. was composed of European musicians of high caliber, and you can't discern that the playing is less disciplined or taut than what one heard form Cleveland.

The Cleveland Brahms First, originally released on Epic in bad sound but now very well remastered on Sony, was the highlight of Szell's cycle, and if anything this live reading is even more energized and taut, with an added dose of passion that Szell, a tart-tongued martinet, rarely showed. Live concerts didn't exactly loosen him up, much less transform him, but you do feel a sense of occasion. Despite his kinship with Toscanini, this Brahms First isn't like the Maestro's - noting is driven or tense. Behind his role as disciplinarian, Szell could be a great interpreter, and I'c all this one of his best things, especially considering the scarcity of live Szell recordings. One minute of the exuberant Scherzo is enough to win anyone over. It's a must-listen, and not just for his fans.
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