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Brahms: Piano Concerto No 2, Symphony No 3 / Toscanini

Release Date: 01/23/2001 
Label:  Music & Arts Programs Of America Catalog #: 1077   Spars Code: AAD 
Composer:  Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Vladimir Horowitz
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Mono 
Length: 1 Hours 20 Mins. 

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Works on This Recording

Concerto for Piano no 2 in B flat major, Op. 83 by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Vladimir Horowitz (Piano)
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1878-1881; Austria 
Date of Recording: 10/23/1948 
Symphony no 3 in F major, Op. 90 by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1883; Austria 
Date of Recording: 03/31/1946 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Top Drawer Brahms from Toscanini & Horowitz December 22, 2011 By T. Drake (South Euclid, OH) See All My Reviews "It's heartening to see the considerable number of historical recordings surfacing during this digital age.
Horowitz and Toscanini had many divergent views on music and performance. Truth be told, if Horowitz hadn't been Toscanini's son-in-law, they probalby would not have performed together as often as they did. The Italian Maestro was a notoriously inflexible accompanist, which probably accounts for the small amount of repeat business he received from top solists. However, for all their musical disagreements, Horowitz and Toscanini were united in their desire to strip from Brahms the flabby, muddy performance style which has been fashinable in some circles. Both the Concerto and Symphony on the CD feature dazzling clarity of execution, where harmonic strands are transparent.

This performance of the concerto, recorded in 1948, has been issued several times on CD, starting in the late 1980s. The sonics in this new remastering are far superior to the earlier issue on Stadivarious, which had many distracting skips, bumps and was poorly balanced. The sound here is smoother, with deeper bass and less shrill treble. As for the performance, I do not agree with the Amazon reviewer's comments that the 1940 studio recording is to be preferred over this one. The sound in the 1948 version has greater dynamic impact, although the piano is overbalanced. Perhaps the sound increases the impression that Horowitz seems more assertive here than in the earlier version, where he was largely content to march to the beat of Toscanini's drum. Tempos are mostly the same here, except in the Andante, which seems somewhat rushed. Horowitz was no great fan of this concerto, but many of the best aspects of his playing are heard here--the clarity, the rhythmic drive, the powerful left hand--all these make this a Brahms Second to be reckoned with. Only one regret here: by 1948, NBC had begun showing a few of Toscanini's concerts on television. How sad they never saw fit to televise this one--it would have been priceless.

The Third Symphony is also a glorious performance. Again, the clarity, both harmonic and structural are the antithesis of the German approach to Brahms. Toscanini takes the repeat in the first movement, but for once is doesn't seem redundant. The flowing Andante is followed by a yearning third movement. Toscanini articulates the tricky syncopation of the Finale in a way few other conductors could. The 1946 recording is understandably restricted dynamically, but reasonably warm and naturally balanced.

Brahms, Toscanini and Horowitz fans would do well to snap this item up ASAP. "
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