George Szell leads taut, energetic, and texturally detailed performances of both symphonies–no surprise to anyone familiar with the other discs in this series. Victor Carr Jr
Editorial Reviews - Amazon.com
George Szell's Beethoven Ninth is not the sort of cosmic display that Wilhelm Furtwängler and other members of the German "Romantic" school made of it, but taken on its own terms it's a lean and mean performance full of power and drama. The Cleveland Orchestra plays with its customary expertise and Szell caps the performance with a smoking rendition of the finale–great choral singing, and an irresistible forward momentum. A great performance. –David Hurwitz
George Szell brings classical lightness and drive to Beethoven's early symphony, all the while pointing up the composer's daring formal and harmonic inventiveness…. Szell's Pastorale is one of the great recordings, full of feeling and sinuous beauty. Victor Carr Jr
For decades Szell's Beethoven cycle has been justly hailed as one of the best on discs, and the reasons are clear: lively and dramatic interpretations that are true to the Beethovenian spirit married to simply spectacular orchestral playing.
Victor Carr Jr.
Szell's performances are very satisfying indeed. His Brahms is robust in strong movements, yet expressive in quiet ones, even if not so deeply embtional as we hear from some conductors. He practically never allows any mannerisms of interpretation… As to the playing, it is very fine; and it is good to be reminded again of this orchestra's soaring violins, its distinguished solo playing, its corporate discipline and rhythm. Very thrilling Brahms. T. H. Gramophone 1973
The excellence of these two famous performances hasn't diminished a bit over time. George Szell's Beethoven Fifth exists in three versions: this one; another with the Cleveland Orchestra on Sony; and (finest of all) one with the Vienna Philharmonic live from the Salzburg Festival on Orfeo. Talk about an embarrassment of riches! It's really pointless to dwell on minute variations in interpretation or playing: all three recordings represent a surpassingly high level of achievement, from the taught opening and generously "con moto" Andante, right through the grim scherzo to the explosive finale. It's simply great Beethoven….
Lorin Varencove Maazel was born of American parents in Neuilly, France on March 6, 1930 and the family returned to Los Angeles when Lorin was still an infant. He exhibited a remarkable ear and musical memory when very young; he had perfect pitch and sang back what he heard. He was taken at age five to study violin with Karl Moldrem. At age seven he started studying piano with Fanchon Armitage. When he became fascinated with conducting, his parents took him to symphony concerts, then arranged for him to have lessons with Vladimir Bakaleinikov, then assistant conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
There's little competition for the best recordings of Bruch's symphonies, but what competition there is is stiff, very, very stiff. On one side, there are Kurt Masur's opulent accounts with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchester from the late '80s, on the other, there are James Conlon's urgent readings with the Gurzenich-Orchester Kölner Philharmoniker from the mid-'90s. And yet Michael Halász and the Staatskapelle Weimar have found a way to top them both by delivering performances of surpassing warmth and beauty that still have unstoppable drive and momentum in this 2008 recording of Bruch's First and Second symphonies. One is reminded here and there of the composer of the famous violin concertos, but for the most part, Halász turns in performances of such conviction and authority that it makes one think Bruch's reputation as a symphonist has been seriously underestimated for the past century and a half. Captured in clear, colorful digital sound, this disc deserves to be heard by all fans of 19th century German symphonic music.
Mysliveček, il divino Boemo (the title seems to have been a fictional exaggeration) was particularly associated with opera. But his instrumental works outnumber the operatic by some margin and some of his best-known works, to us at least, are his concertos. The years of his greatest triumphs were between about 1767 and 1777, a decade that saw foreign successes, meetings with Mozart and considerable operatic esteem. His Six Symphonies of 1772 are indebted to the Italianate three-movement form, which they have absorbed with considerable vivacity, and they show individual touches – modulations, wind solos and the like – that give them an individual stamp.