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Great Conductors of the 20th Century: Bruno Walter
Ludwig van Beethoven, Johannes Brahms, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Great Conductors of the 20th Century: Bruno Walter
Genres: Pop, Classical
  •  Track Listings (9) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (10) - Disc #2


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CD Reviews

Solid Bruno Walter
Jeffrey Lee | Asheville area, NC USA | 05/11/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Bruno Walter directs a pastische of French, British, American and Viennese orchestras in compositions by some of the best known German and Austrian composers. The sound quality varies, but considering the sources, there are no real disappointments. Disc one actually contains two favorite pastoral symphonies---the Sixth of Beethoven and the Second of Brahms. Comparing this 1936 Beethoven with Walter's Indian summer account (Columbia Symphony Orchestra) nearly a quarter century later indicates little has changed in what some have considered to be a trademark piece of his. The same kind of leisurely, songful approach is evident. The Brahms Second with the New York Philharmonic is the best recorded opus in the two disc set. Though Walter begins in much the same vein as his later 1960s Columbia stereo version, he ultimately reveals a little more firmly shaped musical outline. Also, the range of dynamic contrasts is broadened. Even so, the poetic and musical aspects are retained, especially in the conductor's beautifully expressed second and third movements. In the final movement, things move very nicely to the closing passages where Walter unleashes at breakneck speed in the manner of Eugen Jochum's mono Berlin Philharmonic Second (DGG "Originals" set). Overall, an outstanding performance, and one I would rank along with Jochum's, at the very summit of Brahms Seconds....On disc two, both the Overture to Mozart's Marriage of Figaro and the Haydn Symphony 92 ("Oxford") are played with briskness and charm. The Haydn is particularly enjoyable because it reveals those traits of gentleness and warmth that so typified Walter's style of conducting. There's also a nice sense of exuberance in the final movement. Wagner's Die Meistersinger Overture gets a good though not memorable performance. In general, I reserve comment on the vocal selections. I'll only opine that the wonderful Kathleen Ferrier's Mahler contribution is very fine. Though I've heard the adagietto from Mahler's Fifth played with more polish, beauty and depth of feeling, Walter's representation is fine. Strauss' Die Fledermaus Overture is given an affectionate and tuneful account. A very nice set."
Murky recordeings easily found elsewhere
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 11/06/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)

"Bruno Walter was very fortunate to live long enough to record in stereo, because these early versions of two staple pieces--a Beethoven Sixth from vienna (1936) and Brahms Second from New York (1953)--are quite murky, the Beethoven in particular. One can buy either performance from various pirate sources in sonics no worse than we hear on this 2-CD set.

The second CD is filled entirely with bits and pieces except for the Haydn "Oxford" Sym., and here again the murky 30's mono is no pleasure. Walter recorded almost exclusively for Columbia from the Fifties until he died in 1962 (how amazing to think that Walter was born in 1876, when Bruckner and Brahms had twenty years yet to live). Apparently Sony didn't cooperate in the Great Condcutors project, so those Columbia years aren't represented except for the Brahms, which was set to go off copyright. In any event, it can be found in remastered sound from Sony, adding yet another reason not to bother with this colleciton unless you are new to Walter's early career in Europe before the Nazis forced his years of wandering and eventual emigration to Los Angeles."