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Symphonies 4 & 7
Beethoven, Szell, Cleveland Orchestra
Symphonies 4 & 7
Genre: Classical
  •  Track Listings (9) - Disc #1


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CD Details

All Artists: Beethoven, Szell, Cleveland Orchestra
Title: Symphonies 4 & 7
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 1
Label: Sony
Original Release Date: 1/1/1992
Re-Release Date: 6/2/1992
Genre: Classical
Styles: Historical Periods, Classical (c.1770-1830), Modern, 20th, & 21st Century, Symphonies
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 074644815825

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CD Reviews

Szell's genius shines
Michael A. Steele | Michigan | 03/22/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I was weaned on these recordings, so I will admit a bias for them. However, after hearing numerous recordings of the Seventh, I must still rank this one above the others. First of all, Szell's interpretations of Beethoven are legendary and seem to make the music as passionate and powerful as possible. Second, his orchestra at the time of these recordings was, simply put, the best on the planet. Unfortunately, in my listenings to all recordings of the Seventh, I have not yet heard an orchestra perfect the Siciliano rhythm of the First Movement (Ercih Leinsdorf reportedly sadi that he would not conduct this Symphony since an orchestra was incapable of performing this rhythm correctly) and this one is no different, with occasional spurts of correctness. My special passion for this performance comes in the Allegretto, where Szell was one of the first to adopt a tempo which does not drift the listener to sleep. As the entire Symphony was once dubbed "The Apothsosis of the Dance," this tempo is much more fitting than that of most rival recordings. Now out on a very affordable CD, this is still my recommendation for a Seventh, but with the Fourth and the Overture on the same disc, this should be in everyone's library."
Szell's Beethoven is for those who value precision over all
Alan Majeska | Bad Axe, MI, USA | 08/19/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Szell's recordings of the Beethoven Symphonies enjoyed wide circulation on Columbia, Epic, and later Odyssey LPs, and have been on CD since the late 1980s, and the current issue, the early 1990s, in differing couplings with other works. This should attest to their success, as they are played with great precision: not a note or phrase out of place, and there are no slack moments of ensemble. The Cleveland Orchestra plays so well, as one would expect: Szell's Beethoven is for those who value precision over all else.

Symphony 4 is a top recommendation. All movements are played at a sensible tempo, and there is never a sense of recklnessness, or that things are out of control. This recording was the first I heard of this work, and I became familiar with Beethoven Symphony 4 from this recording (Epic LP) in 1972. Symphony 7 may be considered less successful by some listeners, who value Bruno Walter (Sony), Karajan (DG, the 1962 or 1976 recordings, with the complete Beethoven Symphonies), or Bohm (DG) as authoritative in this piece. I for one like Szell's sensible tempos, and if the acoustics seem a little dry at times, one's mind is drawn to the great precision of the playing. The Cleveland horns are terrific, especially in movements I and IV. The KING STEPHEN Overture is well played, too, and the woodwind and horn fanfares in the closing coda really stir up a storm.

I would recommend this, but not as your only CD of these works.
I recommend supplementing these with Beethoven Symphony recordings by Bruno Walter/Columbia Symphony (Sony, available individually), or Karl Bohm/Vienna Philharmonic (DG, in 2 CD sets which sell for the price of one). You can't go wrong with Szell, and even less so with Szell + Bohm or Walter; it's a "WIN/WIN" situation from the start."
Forceful, lyrical performances
drollere | Sebastopol, CA United States | 05/26/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"the beethoven cycle recorded by george szell and the cleveland orchestra in the early 1960's is a miraculous and distinctive account of the symphonies and major orchestral overtures. it manages at the same time to be true to the spirit of beethoven yet immediately fresh and new when compared with almost any other performance available on disc.szell raised the ensemble and technical control of the cleveland orchestra to an astonishing level, which allowed him many hair raising plunges through the music, for example in the last movements of the 5th and 7th symphonies. the orchestra could render the full dynamic range, and the strings -- for example in the first chords of the egmont overture -- were capable of the powerful, rich sonority we expect from a brass choir. the real beauty in szell's interpretations is the orchestra's almost balletic sensitivity to rhythm and musical accent. these musicians don't just play the music as a dance, they express dancing as they play. it's a treat to be surprised by this irresistible, springing dance spirit in movements that are so often played as academic forms -- the disc of the 1st and 6th symphonies provides many happy moments. one regrets that there's no szell recording of beethoven's "creatures of prometheus" available.i love these recordings. at a time when our culture relies on noise, speed, excess, vulgarity and lack of control to get our attention, it's a treat to hear beethoven that is sonorous, sprightly, forceful, lyrical and eloquent. and at a bargain price!"