- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Well, I have to admit—it took a little work on my part, but with some help from my computer, these are the most satisfying performances of these symphonies that I have ever heard. ALTHOUGH I do keep returning to Kubelik and the Berliner Phiharmoniker (I love the German spelling, heh) as my sort of basic "yardstick" for how the poetry of the music should go. But as far as the fun, Paray has it hands down. (Just fer the books, I've heard Szell, Karajan, Furtwangler (the 4th), both Kubeliks, Levine and the Berliners, both Bernsteins, Sawallish, Gardiner, Goodman, Haitink, Giulini (the 3rd), and snatches of Barenboim and Zinnman, and probably others I've forgotten.)
Paray gives us the fastest tempos bar none. BUT, unlike Bernstein, who rushes, Paray knows when to STOP, and take a breath. Which is great. Paray is the ONLY one who goes fast enough for me in the Fourth symphony. Most critics say that Furtwangler offers "The best fourth ever recorded"—yeah, maybe... and it bores me to DEATH. It is SO SLOW and UNeventful. ... Paray's Fourth is MUCH more interesting! (Although I do like Karajan's transition to the finale—it is... HAIRraising! MUCH better than old Furty baby.)
These are incredibly fun, interesting interpretations that I have listened to a whole bunch of times since getting this set just a few days ago!
Now about that quality of sound. Yeah, yeah, it's 1950s stuff. Quibbling a bit, the curiosity is that the later the recordings, the less clear the sound. To wit: the 1958 stereo of the First Symphony is a little blurry—the timpani (I love timpani) sounds like its under-water. But it's not bad overall; I'm just quibbling... The Second Symphony (recorded earlier) sounds better to my ears, although I still wish the timpani and trombones had a bit more edge to them (quibbling). The Rhenish sounds great to me.
So what about that 1954 monophonic Fourth? Yes folks, it's tight, boxy, right-in-the-center-of-your-head mono. But guess what? There is PLENTY OF FIDELITY in them grooves. And it's actually recorded the clearest of all!! The timpani and the brass are WILDLY clear!
So, here's what I did, and you can do it too — or your son or daughter can do it for you:
You put the symphony on your Mac. Now you open up "Garagband" or some audio-editing software. With three simple tricks you can spread apart that mono so it actually sounds BETTER than the real stereo of the other symphonies! It is SPECTACULAR!
NOW you have the perfect set of Schumann symphonies (in my opinion) in awesome sound!
It's just one man's opinion...
What are them tricks? Well, if you can't figure them out, you can ask me. It would take me a while to explain it clearly in words, so I won't do it right now; if you can't figure it out or find it Online somewhere and you ACTUALLY try to do it, let me know and I will help you.
But don't ask just because you're curious... It's a little time-consuming for me to explain, but I'll help you if you're serious...
And then... on to those boxy-but-great sounding Toscanini recordings...