Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Arturo Toscanini, Philharmonia Orchestra|
Brahms: The Four Symphonies / Toscanini, Philharmonia Orchestra
Genres: Special Interest, Pop, Classical
Listen to Samples
Astonishing performances, a few flaws
madamemusico | Cincinnati, Ohio USA | 08/21/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Having owned a "pirated" version of this set some 26 years ago, I kind of liked the performances though the sound was horrible (rather like Everest's mangled sound of the Furtwangler La Scala "Ring" cycle), but the mixed customer reviews of this set--plus the reminders of flaws in the performances--made me hold off buying this "official" release for some time.I can see where at least one person felt the Philharmonia performances were not as exciting as the NBC Symphony ones. The first concert (9/29/52) was not miked properly, with the result that the "Tragic Overture" and first two symphonies are a little tubby, with over-resonance on the bottom and dullness on the top. This, however, can be rectified by decreasing bass and increasing treble. That done, this version of the First Symphony is phrased very much like the legendary Guido Cantelli recording of May 1953--until the last movement, where Toscanini's more forward impetus does not allow for quite as much rubato lingering. This version of the second is also very good, though I still prefer the Munch/Boston Symphony recording.In the second concert, however (10/1/52), both Toscanini and the Philharmonia reach heights undreamed-of with the NBC Symphony. This version of the "Haydn Variations" is almost as beautiful as the famed 1936 New York Philharmonic account, relaxed, spacious and warm, while these versions of the Third and Fourth Symphonies are the best I have EVER heard. In the first movement of the Third, for instance, Toscanini achieves one of his "miracle" effects, in that the orchestra as a totality "breathes" over long phrases in long, sweeping arches of sound, almost as if the music thus produced has taken wing and lifted off. No wonder Walter Legge called it the greatest performance of any music he had ever heard in his life. The Fourth is a miracle of a different sort, in that Toscanini has found the proper rhythmic "cell" with which to propel this usually lethargic symphony without making it sound forced or crunching. I have NEVER heard anyone achieve this kind of effect in the Fourth Symphony since. Also, the microphone balance is here quite perfect, so you can readjust your stereo set (bass and treble) accordingly and receive near-high fidelity sound.I only gave this set 4 stars because of the sound problems in the first concert, the fluffed trombone notes in the finale of the First Symphony, and the firecrackers in the last movement of the Fourth...but believe me, those firecrackers in no way diminish the astounding quality of the performance, annoying though they may be."
A Revelatory Recording And Great Tribute To Toscanini.
JamesTroy | Lithgow , Australia. | 06/10/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I am greatfull to Testament for releasing this recording.Although I was never fortunate to hear the great man coduct in person being an Australian and young, I have always loved his recordings even though he has come to me via the NBC symphony orchestra through hard edged sound emerging from strangulated acoustics, his performances have been so precise and so exciting as to transcend these limitations. The difference between the sound quality of the NBC recordings and this account with the Philharmonia is astonishing.I am confident that this would have been what Toscanini's orchestra would have sounded like.I have not heard the Brahms symphonies sound better under anybody and the sound of Dennis Brains horn in the first and third symphonies is magic.With its few imperfections this is indeed a tribute not only to Toscanini and a must for all Tosacanini collectors ,but also a tribute to Walter Legge who recorded him.One can only wish that Walter Legge had recorded his other performances. How much has been lost to us that he didn't."
The Greatest Brahms
James Burr | Larchmont, NY | 04/27/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Regardless of what some of the other reviewers say, I believe that this is the greatest single Brahms set and one of the finest records that Toscanini ever made. This set shows the way that Toscanini could work his magic, much better than in the NBC set. I agree that his efforts were often rewarded with sub-par Studio 8H sound, but Legge and Douglas Larter did a fine job here, given the live recording, the less than ideal location, and the early 50s mono recording capabilities. The Philharmonia's work, except for the fluffed trombone in Symphony Nol 1 (a ringer, not a regular Philharmonia player) is terrific, particularly the winds and brass (trombones excepted). Dennis Brain is fabulous--even better than with Cantelli in the Brahms 1st. BUY THIS ONE NOW, ALONG WITH SOME OF THE OTHER TESTAMENT REISSUES, SUCH AS THE HOLLYWOOD QUARTET'S LATE BEETHOVEN."