Icon: Wolfgang Sawallisch - Beethoven, Brahms The Complete Symphonies

Release Date: 1/28/2014
Catalog Number: 5099999356521
Number of Discs: 8

Physical Format:

CD
Low Stock
$47.99
Notes and Editorial Reviews
Reviews:

Brahms recordings:

Sawallisch was born in Munich in 1923. Attending a performance of Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel at the age of 11 determined him on a life of music-making. He served in the Wehrmacht 1942-46 and was taken prisoner in Italy. His progress as music director took him from Augsburg to Salzburg, Aachen, Wiesbaden, Köln, Vienna (with the Symphony, not the Phil) and Brahms' 'own' Hamburg. He also established a strong connection with Philadelphia although towards the end of his time there in 2003 ill health made his concerts increasingly rare.

Reticent and unflamboyant Sawallisch has never relished or courted for himself the dazzle and glamour of a Bernstein, a Karajan or a Stokowski. His virtues are bound up with his fidelity to the score; more of a Boult then. He conducts without the score in front of him. His reflexes are good and there is electricity in his control of pacing. More than many he also impresses with his careful attention to harmony as the wind playing at the start of the finales of the First and Second Symphonies pays warm testimony.

The Third - a particular favourite of mine - is relaxed and I did not find it as strong as I was hoping especially in the first movement. The third and fourth movements are fluent and gracious. Overall, deliberation is too much in the ascendant here. This does not dislodge my reference version - Walter and the CBS Symphony - though the EMI sound is much more civilised.

The snappier episodes in the Haydn Variations are rattled through with virility and at a speed that prompts surprising parallel-drawing with Mendelssohn and even Berlioz. The attack at the start of the Tragic Overture is gripping and Sawallisch brings out the same darker shadows we also experience in Dvo?ák's Seventh Symphony - he has recorded the later Dvo?áks for Philips. At other points, as in the great yelping cry of the violins in the peroration to the finale of the First Symphony, Sawallisch turns away from piercing intensity.

The brass are made very pleasingly 'present' by the EMI engineers even when not centre-stage and this facet can be heard again in the finale of the Third Symphony which grasps splendour more than once. It is also immanent in the Fourth which scorches along exactly as it should. In the finale it is brassily Gothic - autumnally spacious without dawdling.

I am not sure what has happened to these recordings for they appear to have had little in the way of a first issue life. They re-emerged as part of a much bigger Brahms-Sawallisch EMI box and later in a bargain basement box from Brilliant Classics. Perhaps their shelf life will now be as long as Sawallisch’s never-out-of-the-catalogue EMI set of Schumann symphonies with the Dresden Staatskapelle.

Sawallisch emerges from this set undemonstrative but with honours high.

-- Rob Barnett, MusicWeb International

Beethoven recordings:
"Wolfgang Sawallisch conducts appealing, bold, bravura, large-scale Beethoven performances that have tremendous sweep and energy. The orchestra is a joy to hear at all times. Some favorite moments are the precise trumpet interjections in the First Symphony's "Menuetto", which are usually lost in a welter of sound; the glorious horns in the third movement of the "Eroica"; and the consistently well-articulated, opulent sound of the strings.

" "Sawallisch's Second symphony makes an especially strong impression. Too often it receives a treatment that suggests it is simply the one "between" No. 1 and No. 3, but in capable hands, hitherto those of Monteux, Ansermet, and Beecham, it can seem like the best piece of the set. Sawallisch has the Concertgebouw players exceptionally charged in this work and the results are electrifying--one of the best performances in the catalog. The recorded sound is very resonant, though not lacking in detail."

"The taut and exciting Fourth and Seventh symphony performances are alive and exciting from beginning to end, they feature the virtuoso Concertgebouw Orchestra in top form, with a special mention for the glorious-sounding horns in the Seventh."

--Rad Bennett, ClassicsToday.com (From reviews for the original EMI Recordings)
Works on This Recording
1. Symphony no 1 in C major, Op. 21 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Orchestra/Ensemble: Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Period: Classical
Written: 1800 ; Vienna, Austria
2. Symphony no 3 in E flat major, Op. 55 "Eroica" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Orchestra/Ensemble: Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Period: Classical
Written: 1803 ; Vienna, Austria
3. Symphony no 2 in D major, Op. 36 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Orchestra/Ensemble: Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Period: Classical
Written: 1801-1802 ; Vienna, Austria
4. Symphony no 8 in F major, Op. 93 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Orchestra/Ensemble: Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Period: Classical
Written: 1812 ; Vienna, Austria
5. Symphony no 4 in B flat major, Op. 60 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Orchestra/Ensemble: Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Period: Classical
Written: 1806 ; Vienna, Austria
6. Symphony no 7 in A major, Op. 92 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Orchestra/Ensemble: Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Period: Classical
Written: 1811-1812 ; Vienna, Austria
7. Symphony no 5 in C minor, Op. 67 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Orchestra/Ensemble: Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Period: Classical
Written: 1807-1808 ; Vienna, Austria
8. Symphony no 6 in F major, Op. 68 "Pastoral" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Orchestra/Ensemble: Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Written: 1808 ;
9. Symphony no 9 in D minor, Op. 125 "Choral" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer: Margaret Price (Soprano), Peter Seiffert (Tenor), Jan-Hendrik Rootering (Bass), Marjana Lipovsek (Alto)
Period: Classical
Written: 1822-1824 ; Vienna, Austria
10. Symphony no 1 in C minor, Op. 68 by Johannes Brahms
Orchestra/Ensemble: London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic
Written: 1855-1876 ; Austria
11. Symphony no 2 in D major, Op. 73 by Johannes Brahms
Orchestra/Ensemble: London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic
Written: 1877 ; Austria
12. Symphony no 3 in F major, Op. 90 by Johannes Brahms
Orchestra/Ensemble: London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic
Written: 1883 ; Austria
13. Symphony no 4 in E minor, Op. 98 by Johannes Brahms
Orchestra/Ensemble: London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic
Written: 1884-1885 ; Austria
14. Academic Festival Overture in C minor, Op. 80 by Johannes Brahms
Orchestra/Ensemble: London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic
Written: 1880 ; Austria
15. Variations in B flat major on a theme by Haydn, Op. 56a "St. Anthony" by Johannes Brahms
Orchestra/Ensemble: London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic
Written: 1873 ; Austria
16. Tragic Overture, Op. 81 by Johannes Brahms
Orchestra/Ensemble: London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic
Written: 1880 ; Austria
17. Song of Destiny, Op. 54 by Johannes Brahms
Period: Romantic
Written: 1868-1871 ; Austria
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