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Herbert Blomstedt - The San Francisco Years


Release Date: 04/01/2014 
Label:  Decca   Catalog #: 002032302   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Béla BartókLudwig van BeethovenFranz BerwaldJohannes Brahms,   ... 
Performer:  Jard Van NesElisabeth Norberg-SchulzWolfgang HolzmairWendy Hoffman,   ... 
Conductor:  Herbert Blomstedt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Symphony OrchestraSan Francisco Symphony ChorusSan Francisco Girls Chorus,   ... 
Number of Discs: 15 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

A collection of superb performances. Herbert Blomstedt never made a bad recording in San Francisco. Indeed, many of them are reference recordings, especially those with the first-class San Francisco Symphony Chorus: Grieg’s complete Peer Gynt Incidental Music, the Brahms German Requiem and other choral works, and Orff’s Carmina Burana. Then there’s the Hindemith orchestral music, Nielsen symphonies, Berwald symphonies, and the list goes on. The Grieg, Brahms, Berwald, and Orff are all included here, and so are “selections” chosen at random from the Hindemith (Mathis der Maler, Concert Music for Strings and Brass, Symphonic Metamorphosis, Trauermusik) and Nielsen (Symphonies Nos. 2 and 3) series. There are also bits of Blomstedt’s superb Read more Sibelius (Symphonies 1, 7, and Tapiola) and Strauss (Don Juan, An Alpine Symphony) recordings.

Why do it this way? Granted, the Nielsen and Sibelius cycles are available separately, and the Strauss is mostly included in Decca’s big Strauss orchestral works box, but all they had to do is put all of Blomstedt’s San Francisco (or better yet, Decca) performances in a big box and we’d have a truly impressive tribute to a highly underrated artist. Instead, we have a random hodgepodge of really good stuff that serves little purpose but to whet one’s appetite for the whole thing. For example, Blomstedt’s Schubert has always been wonderful – his complete symphony cycle on Berlin Classics remains one of the best. So why only include the “Great” Symphony plus an overture, and nothing else? Why leave out the rest of his Nielsen and Sibelius and Hindemith and Strauss? It’s simply maddening.

Certainly it’s good to have his one-off efforts available once again. This Bartók Concerto for Orchestra and Kossuth is an excellent program, little noticed when it was issued. Blomstedt’s Mahler “Resurrection” Symphony is one of the great overlooked versions of the piece. His Mendelssohn Symphonies Nos. 3 and 4 are also first-class, but then so are the same composer’s works for piano and orchestra with Thibaudet, omitted from this collection. If Beethoven’s First and Third Symphonies and Bruckner’s Fourth aren’t quite as awesome as the rest of these performances, they are never less than admirable. And where is his terrific disc of American symphonies, notably Sessions’ Second?

Blomstedt’s tenure in San Francisco had its controversial points. His programming could be dull, but that’s the difference between a great record and a great concert. We listen to works on disc individually, and don’t have to sit through an entire program of miscellaneous stuff pre-selected by a conductor with very specific and/or limited tastes. Blomstedt’s music-making has the kind of integrity usually ascribed to artists like Giulini, only with more consistency. He deserves a complete edition, and so do we.

– David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Concerto for Orchestra, Sz 116 by Béla Bartók
Conductor:  Herbert Blomstedt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1943; USA 
Date of Recording: 1993 
Venue:  Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco 
Length: 36 Minutes 30 Secs. 
2.
Kossuth, Sz 21 by Béla Bartók
Conductor:  Herbert Blomstedt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1903; Budapest, Hungary 
Date of Recording: 1993 
Venue:  Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco 
Length: 22 Minutes 12 Secs. 
3.
Symphony no 1 in C major, Op. 21 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Herbert Blomstedt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1800; Vienna, Austria 
4.
Symphony no 3 in E flat major, Op. 55 "Eroica" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Herbert Blomstedt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1803; Vienna, Austria 
5.
Symphony no 1 in G minor "Sérieuse" by Franz Berwald
Conductor:  Herbert Blomstedt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1842; Sweden 
Date of Recording: 02/24/1992 
Venue:  Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco 
Length: 33 Minutes 12 Secs. 
6.
Symphony no 4 in E flat major by Franz Berwald
Conductor:  Herbert Blomstedt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1845; Sweden 
Date of Recording: 05/25/1991 
Venue:  Davies Symphony Hall, San Francico 
Length: 29 Minutes 44 Secs. 
7.
Gesang der Parzen, Op. 89 by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  Herbert Blomstedt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Symphony Orchestra,  San Francisco Symphony Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1882; Austria 
Date of Recording: 05/1989 
Venue:  Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco 
Length: 11 Minutes 40 Secs. 
Language: German 
8.
Nänie, Op. 82 by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  Herbert Blomstedt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Symphony Orchestra,  San Francisco Symphony Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1880-1881; Austria 
Date of Recording: 05/1989 
Venue:  Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco 
Length: 12 Minutes 42 Secs. 
Language: German 
9.
Song of Destiny, Op. 54 by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  Herbert Blomstedt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Symphony Orchestra,  San Francisco Symphony Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1868-1871; Austria 
Date of Recording: 09/1989 
Venue:  Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco 
Length: 17 Minutes 7 Secs. 
Language: German 
10.
Begräbnisgesang, Op. 13 by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  Herbert Blomstedt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Symphony Orchestra,  San Francisco Symphony Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1858; Germany 
Date of Recording: 09/1989 
Venue:  Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco 
Length: 7 Minutes 57 Secs. 
Language: German 
11.
Alto Rhapsody, Op. 53 by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Jard Van Nes (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Herbert Blomstedt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Symphony Orchestra,  San Francisco Symphony Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1869; Austria 
Date of Recording: 05/1989 
Venue:  Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco 
Length: 13 Minutes 26 Secs. 
Language: German 
12.
German Requiem, Op. 45 by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Elisabeth Norberg-Schulz (Soprano), Wolfgang Holzmair (Baritone)
Conductor:  Herbert Blomstedt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Symphony Orchestra,  San Francisco Symphony Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1854-1868; Austria 
Date of Recording: 09/1993 
Venue:  Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco 
Length: 70 Minutes 47 Secs. 
Language: German 
13.
Symphony no 4 in E flat major, WAB 104 "Romantic" by Anton Bruckner
Conductor:  Herbert Blomstedt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1874; Vienna, Austria 
14.
Peer Gynt, Op. 23 by Edvard Grieg
Performer:  Wendy Hoffman (Mezzo Soprano), Merilyn Vaughn (), Wendy White (Mezzo Soprano),
Richard Haille (), Urban Malmberg (Baritone), Mari Anne Häggander (Soprano)
Conductor:  Herbert Blomstedt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Symphony Orchestra,  San Francisco Symphony Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1875/1892; Norway 
Date of Recording: 06/1988 
Venue:  Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco 
Length: 73 Minutes 0 Secs. 
Language: Norwegian 
15.
Symphony "Mathis der Maler" by Paul Hindemith
Conductor:  Herbert Blomstedt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Date of Recording: 10/1987 
Venue:  Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco 
16.
Symphonic Metamorphosis on Themes of Carl Maria von Weber by Paul Hindemith
Conductor:  Herbert Blomstedt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1943; USA 
Date of Recording: 10/1987 
Venue:  Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco 
17.
Trauermusik for Viola and Strings by Paul Hindemith
Performer:  Geraldine Walther (Viola)
Conductor:  Herbert Blomstedt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1936; Germany 
Date of Recording: 10/1987 
Venue:  Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco 
18.
Konzertmusik for Brass and Strings, Op. 50 by Paul Hindemith
Conductor:  Herbert Blomstedt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1930; Germany 
Date of Recording: 05/1991 
Venue:  Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco 
Length: 17 Minutes 21 Secs. 
19.
Symphony no 2 in C minor "Resurrection" by Gustav Mahler
Performer:  Ruth Ziesak (Soprano), Charlotte Hellekant (Alto)
Conductor:  Herbert Blomstedt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Symphony Orchestra,  San Francisco Symphony Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888/1896; Germany 
Date of Recording: 09/1992 
Venue:  Davies Hall, San Francisco 
Length: 86 Minutes 12 Secs. 
Language: German 
20.
Symphony no 3 in A minor, Op. 56 "Scottish" by Felix Mendelssohn
Conductor:  Herbert Blomstedt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1842; Germany 
Date of Recording: 05/1991 
Venue:  Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco 
Length: 37 Minutes 3 Secs. 
21.
Symphony no 4 in A major, Op. 90 "Italian" by Felix Mendelssohn
Conductor:  Herbert Blomstedt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1833; Germany 
Date of Recording: 12/1989 
Venue:  Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco 
Length: 29 Minutes 37 Secs. 
22.
Symphony no 2 in B minor, Op. 16 "The Four Temperaments" by Carl Nielsen
Conductor:  Herbert Blomstedt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1901-1902; Denmark 
Date of Recording: 09/1989 
Venue:  Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco, CA 
Length: 32 Minutes 21 Secs. 
23.
Symphony no 3, Op. 27 "Sinfonia espansiva" by Carl Nielsen
Conductor:  Herbert Blomstedt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1910-1911; Denmark 
Date of Recording: 12/1989 
Venue:  Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco, CA 
Length: 35 Minutes 23 Secs. 
24.
Carmina burana by Carl Orff
Performer:  Lynne Dawson (Soprano), John Daniecki (Tenor), Kevin McMillan (Baritone)
Conductor:  Herbert Blomstedt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Symphony Orchestra,  San Francisco Symphony Chorus,  San Francisco Girls Chorus  ... 
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1936; Germany 
25.
Symphony no 9 in C major, D 944 "Great" by Franz Schubert
Conductor:  Herbert Blomstedt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: ?1825-28; Vienna, Austria 
26.
Overture in C major, D 591/Op. 170 "In the Italian Style" by Franz Schubert
Conductor:  Herbert Blomstedt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1817; Vienna, Austria 
27.
Symphony no 7 in C major, Op. 105 by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Herbert Blomstedt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1924; Finland 
28.
Symphony no 1 in E minor, Op. 39 by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Herbert Blomstedt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1899; Finland 
29.
Tapiola, Op. 112 by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Herbert Blomstedt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1926; Finland 
30.
Don Juan, Op. 20 by Richard Strauss
Conductor:  Herbert Blomstedt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888-1889; Germany 
Venue:  Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco 
Length: 17 Minutes 35 Secs. 
31.
Eine Alpensinfonie, Op. 64 by Richard Strauss
Conductor:  Herbert Blomstedt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1911-1915; Germany 
Venue:  Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco 
Length: 52 Minutes 26 Secs. 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 great recordings March 28, 2014 By Jonathan H. (Culpeper, VA) See All My Reviews "It has been about 20 years since the last item here was originally released - and considering their quality, the fact we're only now getting a box set points to the one flaw of this whole project. The rest is, on its own terms, flawless. These recordings show that Herbert Blomstedt was above average in his understanding of Nielsen, Sibelius, Bruckner, and Strauss - while in the rest, provided similar clarity and smoothness of approach. This is a balance of his tremendous experience, and understanding of how to get an orchestra, especially an American one, to sound optimal in German and Germanic music. It is wonderful to hear Beethoven and Bruckner played with the same clarity and smoothness - speaking for the composer first and last. As Solti pointed out while guest conducting the SFS in 1995, the last year of Blomstedt's tenure, the orchestra sounds like a big five orchestra. The recording team was pretty consistent and created a more natural soundstage than Decca teams did in other locations (these same men worked in Amsterdam). The only downside to this set is that it omits Schubert 5 and 8, Bruckner 6, and other Strauss tone poems - but they can be bought on-demand from this site (there's also a more complete Strauss tone poem box set that includes some HB items). After that, you might be wishing Decca had recorded them in Mozart, Haydn, and the complete cycles of Beethoven, Brahms, Bruckner, Mendelssohn, and Schubert! The world would not have been worse off for it - but at least we get a taste here." Report Abuse
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