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Schumann: Symphony No.2; "Manfred" Overture; Konzertstück for 4 Horns

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Amazon.com: HASH(0x8fd28d20) out of 5 stars 6 reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8e834fe4) out of 5 stars Impressive Konzertstuck 1 May 2001
By alessandro dosio - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Being a horn player myself, I'm always looking forward to listening to a new recording of the Shumann's Konzertstuck for four horns and orchestra. It is probably one of the most difficult pieces ever written for horn (the stratospheric-high first part in particular) and it is a really wonderful piece of music, sadly little known and rarely executed due to its difficulties. Well, this recording by the Philarmonia horn section is really excellent(it is only a pity that in the informative notes the names of the players are not reported). Wonderful sound and colors, flawless technique and fine phrasing. Also the balance between the four parts is very good. The first movement is particularly well done, listen to the horn's entrance and the finale!! About the 2nd symphony, it is also quite good although I would have preferred a faster tempo.
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8e682054) out of 5 stars Thielemann breathes new life into Schumann 15 Jan. 2000
By Braswell Perry - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
The old argument that Schumann's symphonic works are boring and poorly orchestrated has been thrown out the window in this recording. Christian Thielemann, using all of the colours of the conductor's artistic palette, proves that he is certainly not an old-school European maestro. Employing elastic tempi, wide dynamic contrasts and clever line control, Thielemann breathes a new life into Schumann. The music tells a story and when finished, the listner feels like he has completed an action-packed musical journey. Some of Thielemann's tempi seem to be a bit too liberal, but are easily overlooked. Thielemann also gets slightly carried away in the Finale of the Konzertstuck for four horns and loses his soloist for a few measures, but a brilliant performance nonetheless. This is the kind of exciting performance that keeps you on the edge of your seat. Truly a performance for the 21st century classical music audience.
12 of 18 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8e7141f8) out of 5 stars Amateur hour 12 Feb. 2002
By The Man in the Hathaway Shirt - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I haven't heard a recording this amateurish since Gilbert Kaplan's go at the Mahler 2nd Symphony. Thielemann can barely hold his orchestra together in the symphony, and there are passages where I wonder if everyone is on the same page, let alone the same beat. There's also a nasty, awkward edit in the finale, close to the coda, that makes the music lurch. The musicians, thought they struggle bravely (the only reason for the two stars) often play tentatively, and never play "out" with full intensity, and sound limp. And who can blame them for being tentative: with Thielemann's imprecise tempo lurches at every other bar, they're very afraid to stab a chord, for fear they won't come in together. Balances are absent. The Manfred is just as flaccid and muddy. No drama or tension, no build, no overall sense of structure from beginning to end, which is what you got when someone like Furtwangler conducted Schumann, even though he too engaged in considerable tempi shifts.
The Konzertstuck I was reluctant to critique, as I do not know the work very well and haven't listened to any version in a long time. I got input from a French-horn-playing friend of mine, though. Without knowing my own feelings about this disc, she volunteered that Thielemann changed tempos arbitrarily, sounds like he's confusing the players, and doesn't seem to "get" the music. So a professional hornist's reaction to the CD is just about the same as mine, and she's played this work many times in concert.
As for the silly arguments below (do people really think or just repeat old wisdoms over and over, long after they cease to be true?) that this is "exciting" instead of dull, dutiful Schumann, please, listen to Bernstein, Karajan, Furtwangler, Kubelik for some examples of truly exciting Schumann. Compared to those conductors, this recording will put you to sleep. Particularly recommended are Karajan in the 1st, Marriner in the 2nd (that's right), Karajan in the 3rd and Furtwangler in the 4th. That's some great Schumann.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Lecaro - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Bravo Thielemann! One of the greatest performances of these works. Thielemann forever!
5 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8e68251c) out of 5 stars Mediocre Konzertstuck, Unorthodox tempos 12 Jun. 2006
By Oregonian - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I was somewhat disappointed by this album. The Konzertstuck, a magnificent and devilishly difficult work for four horns and orchestra, receives a solid but unspecial performance. Thielemann's tempos, particularly in the Schumann Symphony #2, seem ponderous and rather unorthodox. FOr the second symphony I much prefer Wolfgang Sawallisch's recording.

What I still find bewildering is that DG produced the greatest-ever recording of the Konzertstuck and yet that recording is now out of print. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra recorded the Konzertstuck in the 1970s, with principal hornist Dale Clevenger playing the high part. Those guys produced a spectacular "wall of sound" with pinpoint precision and accuracy. And, the CSO of course is a much better orchestra than the Philharmonia. Hopefully, someday DG will re-release this recording digitally remastered.
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