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Great Conductors Of The 20th Century - Bruno Walter


Release Date: 06/04/2002 
Label:  Emi Classics   Catalog #: 75133   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Ludwig van BeethovenJohannes BrahmsWolfgang Amadeus MozartFranz Joseph Haydn,   ... 
Performer:  Lauritz MelchiorAlfred JergerEmanuel ListLotte Lehmann,   ... 
Conductor:  Bruno Walter
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic OrchestraNew York PhilharmonicBritish Symphony Orchestra,   ... 
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Mono 
Length: 2 Hours 24 Mins. 

CD not available: This title is currently only available as an MP3 download.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

These days Bruno Walter is best known for his Columbia Symphony stereo recordings, most of which were made when he was in his 80s and in poor health. By that time warm mellowness often replaced his earlier, more energetic interpretive stance. Such generalizations can be overdone though, as evidenced by his 1936 Vienna Philharmonic recording of Beethoven's Sixth Symphony on this two-disc Bruno Walter entry in EMI's Great Conductors of the 20th Century series. It's a fine performance, but aside from a somewhat brisker country stroll at its opening and slightly more precise articulation throughout, it's not radically different from his familiar Columbia Symphony stereo recording on Sony made 22 years later. In this Beethoven, the first of Read more Walter's three recordings of the work, he is slightly more inclined to expressive rubatos and encourages discreet touches of portamento in the strings. But the biggest difference lies in the two decades of engineering advancements that make his Sony recording the preferred one and this early one a document of interest to Walter fans and conductor buffs.


The Beethoven shares a disc with Brahms' Symphony No. 2, made in 1953 with the New York Philharmonic. This is another duplication of Walter's Sony stereo repertoire, but in vibrant mono sound that conveys the energetic drive of the finale and the cushioned warmth of his lyrical slow movement. The New Yorkers always played well for Walter and here they play with sustained tension, riveting wind solos, powerfully pungent brass, and the strings' perfect combination of toughness and warmth. Walter's Brahms particularly excelled in the naturalness of transitions. With many conductors, not excepting Toscanini, there's often a feeling of lurching from one section to another, all the stitches showing in the seams; with Walter, such transitions are effected with a graceful ease that redirects attention to the musical content and not to how it gets there.


Disc 2 is more of a potpourri, an inevitable consequence of trying to encompass the long recording career and wide musical sympathies of a great conductor. The major work is Haydn's Symphony No. 92, made in 1938 with the Paris Conservatory Orchestra. Walter had just fled the Nazi takeover in Vienna, his daughter was imprisoned, and he faced an uncertain future as a refugee. Yet he captures all of Haydn's joy and wit in a reading that balances drive and elegance. The outer movements sweep along with speedy liveliness, the minuet dances, and the Adagio has both grace and gravity. Mozart is represented by a breakneck Figaro Overture; Wagner by a broad Meistersinger Act 1 Prelude and part of Scene 5 from Act 2 of Die Walküre featuring Lotte Lehmann's intense Sieglinde. Walter's bond to Vienna is recognized by Johann Strauss' Fledermaus Overture in which the conductor gets his Parisian band to deliver a bubbly, echt-Viennese performance.


If Walter was identified with any composer it was with Mahler, who's represented here by two selections. The first is "Nun will die Sonn' so hell aufgeh'n" from Kindertotenlieder in the classic, heart-rending Kathleen Ferrier recording with the Vienna Philharmonic in 1949. The other, from January, 1938 with a very different pre-war Vienna orchestra, is a flowing Adagietto from the Fifth Symphony clocking in at 8 minutes, faster than later norms but no less gorgeous for its lack of excess.


While the recordings in this Great Conductors entry were made between 1930 (the Meistersinger Prelude) and 1953 (Brahms' Second) they're hardly "early" in the context of Walter's career. He was 54 in 1930, 77 in 1953. So these represent Walter in his mature prime. The earliest recordings betray compressed dynamics, but the 1936 Beethoven, while sharing those deficits, has a warm, full sound and the Brahms is a well-recorded example of late monophonic engineering.
--Dan Davis, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Symphony no 6 in F major, Op. 68 "Pastoral" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Bruno Walter
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1808; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 12/05/1936 
Venue:  Musikverein, Vienna, Austria 
Length: 38 Minutes 36 Secs. 
2.
Symphony no 2 in D major, Op. 73 by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  Bruno Walter
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1877; Austria 
Date of Recording: 12/28/1953 
Venue:  Columbia 30th Street Studios, NYC 
Length: 38 Minutes 38 Secs. 
3.
Le nozze di Figaro, K 492: Overture by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor:  Bruno Walter
Orchestra/Ensemble:  British Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1786; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 04/15/1932 
Venue:  Westminster Central Hall, London 
Length: 4 Minutes 2 Secs. 
4.
Symphony no 92 in G major, H 1 no 92 "Oxford" by Franz Joseph Haydn
Conductor:  Bruno Walter
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestre de la Société du Conservatoire Paris
Period: Classical 
Written: 1789; Eszterhazá, Hungary 
Date of Recording: 05/07/1938 
Venue:  Théâtre Pigalle, Paris, France 
Length: 22 Minutes 37 Secs. 
5.
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg: Act 1 Prelude by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Bruno Walter
Orchestra/Ensemble:  British Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1867; Germany 
Date of Recording: 05/16/1930 
Venue:  Westminster Central Hall, London 
Length: 9 Minutes 3 Secs. 
6.
Die Walküre: Act 2, Scene 5 by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Lauritz Melchior (Tenor), Alfred Jerger (Bass), Emanuel List (Bass),
Lotte Lehmann (Soprano), Ella Flesch (Soprano)
Conductor:  Bruno Walter
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1856; Germany 
Date of Recording: 06/1935 
Venue:  Musikverein, Vienna, Austria 
Length: 9 Minutes 5 Secs. 
Language: German 
7.
Kindertotenlieder: Nun will die Sonn' so hell aufgeh'n by Gustav Mahler
Performer:  Kathleen Ferrier (Alto)
Conductor:  Bruno Walter
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1901-1904; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 10/04/1949 
Venue:  Kingsway Hall, London, England 
Length: 4 Minutes 50 Secs. 
Language: German 
8.
Symphony no 5 in C sharp minor: 4th movement, Adagietto by Gustav Mahler
Conductor:  Bruno Walter
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1901-1902; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 01/15/1938 
Venue:  Musikverein, Vienna, Austria 
Length: 8 Minutes 6 Secs. 
9.
Die Fledermaus: Overture by Johann Strauss Jr.
Conductor:  Bruno Walter
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestre de la Société du Conservatoire Paris
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1874; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 05/17/1938 
Venue:  Théâtre Pigalle, Paris 
Length: 7 Minutes 31 Secs. 

Sound Samples

Symphony No. 6 in F 'Pastoral' Op. 68 (2002 Digital Remaster): I. Allegro ma non troppo (Awakening of cheerful feelings on arriving in the country)
Symphony No. 6 in F 'Pastoral' Op. 68 (2002 Digital Remaster): II. Andante molto moto (Scene by the brook)
Symphony No. 6 in F 'Pastoral' Op. 68 (2002 Digital Remaster): III. Allegro (Merry gathering of the country folk) -
Symphony No. 6 in F 'Pastoral' Op. 68 (2002 Digital Remaster): IV. Allegro (Storm and tempest) -
Symphony No. 6 in F 'Pastoral' Op. 68 (2002 Digital Remaster): V. Allegretto (Shepherds' Song. Happy and thankful feelings after the storm)
Symphony No. 2 in D Op. 73 (2002 Digital Remaster): I. Allegro non troppo
Symphony No. 2 in D Op. 73 (2002 Digital Remaster): II. Adagio non troppo
Symphony No. 2 in D Op. 73 (2002 Digital Remaster): III. Allegretto grazioso (Quasi andantino) - Presto, ma non assai
Symphony No. 2 in D Op. 73 (2002 Digital Remaster): IV. Allegro con spirito
Le Nozze di Figaro (2002 Digital Remaster): Overture
Symphony No. 92 in G, 'Oxford' (2002 Digital Remaster): I. Adagio - Allegro spiritoso
Symphony No. 92 in G, 'Oxford' (2002 Digital Remaster): II. Adagio
Symphony No. 92 in G, 'Oxford' (2002 Digital Remaster): III. Menuet
Symphony No. 92 in G, 'Oxford' (2002 Digital Remaster): IV. Presto
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (2002 Digital Remaster): Vorspiel (Prelude), 1.Aufzug
Die Walküre (2002 Digital Remaster), ACT 2: Zauberfest bezähmt ein Schlaf
Kindertotenlider (2002 Digital Remaster): No 1. - Nun will die Sonn' so hell aufgehn
Symphony No. 5 in C sharp minor (2002 Digital Remaster): IV. Adagietto. Sehr langsam
Die Fledermaus (2002 Digital Remaster): Overture

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