Discussion:
Brahms Third
(too old to reply)
Herman
2018-12-23 21:13:52 UTC
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Yesterday and today I listened to various recordings of Brahms' Third symphony, and I couldn't help but notice how hard it is to get the balance right in this work. The orchestral balances, but also between pushing forward and lingering.

There is a RMCR topic from the early tens, starting with Richard Osborne's Gramophone overview (his conclusion is Abbado and Furtwangler, both BPO), in which Osborne dons a white doctor's apron mentioning the overwhelming presence of the composer's "psychopathology" in this work, without further elaborating what he's talking about. It's always important, after all, to suggest you know more than the reader does when you're writing about music.

Since that old topic is mostly consumed with Deacon-related drama I thought I'd start a new one.

Another lovely detail from Osborne's review is his saying the the second bar, the one with the A flat chord, is the make or break moment. If there is no crescendo there it's not going to work. I can imagine the reviewer working this way, discarding or approving recordings on the basis of the second bar. Nice job if you can get it.

I would say having a good balance between the woodwinds and the brass is more important, right from the get go. And maintaining the sense of urgency without rushing, which is where Abbado fails IMO. He's pushing too hard. Brahms is trying to mix Schumann's Rhenish and Das Rheingold, not Niagara Falls.

I have a live set by Gunter Wand, which was very hard to take. There's just no sparkle in his Brahms. No light.

There is a lot of light in Belohlavek's Brahms, but it just doesn't move forward. The same ultimately goes for Giulini and the Vienna Phil. At the appearance of the Lorelei-motif in the opening movement, all motions disappears.

The two best recordings in my collection were Haitink with the Boston SO, beautifully played and expertly paced, and Kubelik and the Bavarian RSO, which has a little edge for me, because of the German sounds coming from the orchestra, a recordings that superbly catches the dynamics and most of all a haunting second movement, with wind playing that's just out of this world.

I should get Haitink 1970 recording some time.
Andy Evans
2018-12-23 21:50:22 UTC
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The two I listen to are VPO Karajan on Decca and Columbia SO/Walter. No idea if they're the best but I like both.
m***@gmail.com
2018-12-24 02:11:54 UTC
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Post by Andy Evans
The two I listen to are VPO Karajan on Decca and Columbia SO/Walter. No idea if they're the best but I like both.
The live Wand is nothing special, but the studio recording is quite good. I also like Haitink RCO, but that is a bit subdued compared to the near perfect reading by Walter/Columbia. Cantelli is a good listen; I recall liking the Abbado and sensing its nod to Furtwangler while adopting more same tempi.
Kerrison
2018-12-24 07:09:32 UTC
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Post by m***@gmail.com
Post by Andy Evans
The two I listen to are VPO Karajan on Decca and Columbia SO/Walter. No idea if they're the best but I like both.
The live Wand is nothing special, but the studio recording is quite good. I also like Haitink RCO, but that is a bit subdued compared to the near perfect reading by Walter/Columbia. Cantelli is a good listen; I recall liking the Abbado and sensing its nod to Furtwangler while adopting more same tempi.
I sometimes wonder how many recordings of any given work one needs to have on the shelf, bearing in mind the available space thereon. My stereo Brahms 3rds are Szell/Cleveland, Walter/Columbia, Stokowski/Houston and Boult/BBC Symphony ('live' from a 1977 Proms concert), while the mono 'historics' are Toscanini/NBC, Stokowski/Philadelphia and Kindler/National Symphony. I think those will be quite enough to keep me going for when I want to hear it again, but I rather think Szell and Walter are the best of the stereo bunch while the 1941 Kindler is excellent in the monos!

Incidentally, I seem to recall reading somewhere that it is a "difficult work to bring off" but that may be Brahms's fault for writing a symphony in which all four movements end quietly.
m***@hotmail.com
2018-12-24 07:57:46 UTC
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Post by Kerrison
Post by m***@gmail.com
Post by Andy Evans
The two I listen to are VPO Karajan on Decca and Columbia SO/Walter. No idea if they're the best but I like both.
The live Wand is nothing special, but the studio recording is quite good. I also like Haitink RCO, but that is a bit subdued compared to the near perfect reading by Walter/Columbia. Cantelli is a good listen; I recall liking the Abbado and sensing its nod to Furtwangler while adopting more same tempi.
I sometimes wonder how many recordings of any given work one needs to have on the shelf, bearing in mind the available space thereon. My stereo Brahms 3rds are Szell/Cleveland, Walter/Columbia, Stokowski/Houston and Boult/BBC Symphony ('live' from a 1977 Proms concert), while the mono 'historics' are Toscanini/NBC, Stokowski/Philadelphia and Kindler/National Symphony. I think those will be quite enough to keep me going for when I want to hear it again, but I rather think Szell and Walter are the best of the stereo bunch while the 1941 Kindler is excellent in the monos!
Incidentally, I seem to recall reading somewhere that it is a "difficult work to bring off" but that may be Brahms's fault for writing a symphony in which all four movements end quietly.
Are you now going to blame Sibelius for writing a sixth symphony where all four movements end quietly?
Frank Berger
2018-12-24 16:06:54 UTC
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Post by m***@hotmail.com
Post by Kerrison
Post by m***@gmail.com
Post by Andy Evans
The two I listen to are VPO Karajan on Decca and Columbia SO/Walter. No idea if they're the best but I like both.
The live Wand is nothing special, but the studio recording is quite good. I also like Haitink RCO, but that is a bit subdued compared to the near perfect reading by Walter/Columbia. Cantelli is a good listen; I recall liking the Abbado and sensing its nod to Furtwangler while adopting more same tempi.
I sometimes wonder how many recordings of any given work one needs to have on the shelf, bearing in mind the available space thereon. My stereo Brahms 3rds are Szell/Cleveland, Walter/Columbia, Stokowski/Houston and Boult/BBC Symphony ('live' from a 1977 Proms concert), while the mono 'historics' are Toscanini/NBC, Stokowski/Philadelphia and Kindler/National Symphony. I think those will be quite enough to keep me going for when I want to hear it again, but I rather think Szell and Walter are the best of the stereo bunch while the 1941 Kindler is excellent in the monos!
Incidentally, I seem to recall reading somewhere that it is a "difficult work to bring off" but that may be Brahms's fault for writing a symphony in which all four movements end quietly.
Are you now going to blame Sibelius for writing a sixth symphony where all four movements end quietly?
Is Sibelius 6 "difficult to bring off?"
m***@gmail.com
2018-12-24 14:59:10 UTC
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Post by Kerrison
Post by m***@gmail.com
Post by Andy Evans
The two I listen to are VPO Karajan on Decca and Columbia SO/Walter. No idea if they're the best but I like both.
The live Wand is nothing special, but the studio recording is quite good. I also like Haitink RCO, but that is a bit subdued compared to the near perfect reading by Walter/Columbia. Cantelli is a good listen; I recall liking the Abbado and sensing its nod to Furtwangler while adopting more same tempi.
I sometimes wonder how many recordings of any given work one needs to have on the shelf, bearing in mind the available space thereon. My stereo Brahms 3rds are Szell/Cleveland, Walter/Columbia, Stokowski/Houston and Boult/BBC Symphony ('live' from a 1977 Proms concert), while the mono 'historics' are Toscanini/NBC, Stokowski/Philadelphia and Kindler/National Symphony. I think those will be quite enough to keep me going for when I want to hear it again, but I rather think Szell and Walter are the best of the stereo bunch while the 1941 Kindler is excellent in the monos!
Incidentally, I seem to recall reading somewhere that it is a "difficult work to bring off" but that may be Brahms's fault for writing a symphony in which all four movements end quietly.
I agree with you about Szell. Two other really fine American-orchestra recordings from the late 1960s also provide pleasure - Leinsdorf/Boston and Ormandy/Philadelphia. Both are big-orchestra Brahms, the Leinsdorf with a sleeker sonority than the more voluptuous Ormandy. Both may be hard to find now.

Mark
Matthew Silverstein
2018-12-24 06:53:48 UTC
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Given the preferences you've already stated, I imagine you'd hate my favorites, which include Walter/NYPO, Gardiner, Levine/VPO, and Giulini/VPO. I tend to find middle-of-the-road performances of this symphony somewhat dull; hence my preference for Walter (on the urgent end of the spectrum) and Giulini (on the grand end of the spectrum).

Matty
dk
2018-12-24 08:20:17 UTC
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Post by Matthew Silverstein
Given the preferences you've already stated, I imagine
you'd hate my favorites, which include Walter/NYPO,
Gardiner, Levine/VPO, and Giulini/VPO. I tend to
find middle-of-the-road performances of this
symphony somewhat dull; hence my preference
for Walter (on the urgent end of the spectrum)
Sawallisch/VSO leave poor Walter in the dust!


Walter must have been the most over-rated
conductor ever! Even Klemperer does better!

Post by Matthew Silverstein
and Giulini (on the grand end of the spectrum).
For that end of the spectrum, Celibidache
and Lenny take the trophy!






The finest Brahms 3rd I heard live was by
Lenny conducting the Israel Philharmonic
in late 1973 or early 1974 in its first
concert after the Yom Kippur War that
included Brahms' 1st and 3rd symphonies.

It was a very special occasion as one
can imagine and those were extremely
intense readings -- Lenny on steroids!

I am unable to find the 3rd on YouTube,
however the first is available here:


Enjoy!

dk
dk
2018-12-24 08:48:17 UTC
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Post by dk
Post by Matthew Silverstein
Given the preferences you've already stated, I imagine
you'd hate my favorites, which include Walter/NYPO,
Gardiner, Levine/VPO, and Giulini/VPO. I tend to
find middle-of-the-road performances of this
symphony somewhat dull; hence my preference
for Walter (on the urgent end of the spectrum)
Sawallisch/VSO leave poor Walter in the dust!
http://youtu.be/XzSG1mmoDJY
Sawallisch also leaves carlos Kleiber
in the dust in the 4th:


Kleiber was another grossly overrated
semi-konduktor! ;-)

dk
p***@yahoo.com
2018-12-27 21:15:11 UTC
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Post by dk
Sawallisch also leaves carlos Kleiber
http://youtu.be/Nmfduu498LY
I still consider a Sawallisch-conducted fourth in Philadelphia, circa 2001, to be one of the greatest performances of anything I've heard live.

For commercial recordings of the third, I'd long liked two very different recordings: Walter/NY and Giluini/VPO, the former being a much more aggressive performance.
p***@yahoo.com
2018-12-27 21:18:38 UTC
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Post by dk
Sawallisch also leaves carlos Kleiber
http://youtu.be/Nmfduu498LY
I still consider a Sawallisch-conducted fourth in Philadelphia, circa 2001, to be one of the greatest performances of anything I've heard live.

For commercial recordings of the third, I've long liked two very different recordings: Walter/NY and Giluini/VPO, the former being a much more aggressive performance.
Herman
2018-12-24 09:01:55 UTC
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Post by dk
It was a very special occasion as one
can imagine and those were extremely
intense readings -- Lenny on steroids!
Sounds truly horrible. Bernstein's Brahms symphonies are kind of demonstration cases of How Not To.

That being said I can imagine they were special in the moment. I have particularly good memories of a later career Bernstein Schumann Second. But if I hear the recording is christawful.
Herman
2018-12-24 09:03:48 UTC
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I'm sorry the whole "X leaves Y in the dust" thing is just a little puerile.

You're not a teenager by a long shot, and music doesn't work that way.
dk
2018-12-24 09:10:00 UTC
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Post by Herman
I'm sorry the whole "X leaves Y in
the dust" thing is just a little
puerile.
So what? ;-)
Post by Herman
You're not a teenager by a long shot,
I actually am! ;-)
Post by Herman
and music doesn't work that way.
Music works differently for
different people. Just like
food and beverages! ;-)

dk
Herman
2018-12-24 09:46:44 UTC
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Post by dk
Post by Herman
You're not a teenager by a long shot,
I actually am! ;-)
I believe you're something like eighty years old.

What you're trying to sell as youthful ebullience is really cranky old - with a smiley added.
dk
2018-12-24 09:08:34 UTC
Permalink
Post by Herman
Post by dk
It was a very special occasion as one
can imagine and those were extremely
intense readings -- Lenny on steroids!
Sounds truly horrible. Bernstein's Brahms
symphonies are kind of demonstration cases
of How Not To.
That being said I can imagine they were
special in the moment. I have particularly
good memories of a later career Bernstein
Schumann Second. But if I hear the recording
is christawful.
De gustibus....

dk
Herman
2018-12-24 09:38:19 UTC
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Post by dk
De gustibus....
that goes without saying. However there are some non-gustatory things to be said about Bernstein's Brahms.

It used to be said that all of these mid-century symphonists didn't know how to write for orchestra; Schumann and Brahms tended to sound too thick and glutinous.

And then it turned out that the problem was different: conductors did not know how to balance the orchestra in these composers. Also because they thought (especially in Brahms's case) because there was too much going on at the same time, so one had to privilige one line over all the others, in order to make it from climax to climax.

Bernstein is interesting in that he is about the last (major) conductor to perpetuate, even reinforce, this mistake. He kind of conducts orchestral reductions of Brahms and Schumann.
Ricardo Jimenez
2018-12-24 15:10:24 UTC
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Post by Herman
It used to be said that all of these mid-century symphonists didn't know how to write for orchestra; Schumann and Brahms tended to sound too thick and glutinous.
And then it turned out that the problem was different: conductors did not know how to balance the orchestra in these composers. Also because they thought (especially in Brahms's case) because there was too much going on at the same time, so one had to privilige one line over all the others, in order to make it from climax to climax.
Bernstein is interesting in that he is about the last (major) conductor to perpetuate, even reinforce, this mistake. He kind of conducts orchestral reductions of Brahms and Schumann.
Here we go again. Brahms and Schumann consistently don't give their
works the orchestral dress they deserve. If you listen to their
German contemporaries like Otto von Nicolai, Josef Rheinberger or
Joachim Raff you wonder why such greats knew so much less than those
second raters. It isn't just a matter of balance; it has to do with
distributing the work among the string, woodwind and brass choirs and
not padding out the texture by doubling (Brahms overuses the horns for
that). I think that Mackerras does a good job of clarifying Brahms by
using a small orchestra. However, I keeping hearing in my head, the
finale of the third with a full Wagnerian treatment. Unfortunately I
don't have the skill to put it down on paper. :-(
Kerrison
2018-12-24 16:05:01 UTC
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Does anyone feel strongly about the first movement repeat? Having just checked the recordings on my shelf, I find that Szell, Walter, Stokowski, Kindler and Reiner (who I overlooked previously) are all non-observers, while Toscanini and Boult keep it in. Personally I can live without it but I imagine nowadays it is considered heretical to omit it. Incidentally, I was surprised that the "Allegro con brio" tempo marking was anything but in the 1952 recording by Toscanini of all people. Reiner and Stokowski both get off to a brisk start but slow down considerably after a minute or so. I wonder who on record takes this movement at a real speedy "Allegro con brio" throughout?
Herman
2018-12-24 16:34:59 UTC
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Post by Kerrison
Does anyone feel strongly about the first movement repeat?
I do. I feel cheated without.
drh8h
2018-12-25 14:10:58 UTC
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Post by Kerrison
Does anyone feel strongly about the first movement repeat? Having just checked the recordings on my shelf, I find that Szell, Walter, Stokowski, Kindler and Reiner (who I overlooked previously) are all non-observers, while Toscanini and Boult keep it in. Personally I can live without it but I imagine nowadays it is considered heretical to omit it. Incidentally, I was surprised that the "Allegro con brio" tempo marking was anything but in the 1952 recording by Toscanini of all people. Reiner and Stokowski both get off to a brisk start but slow down considerably after a minute or so. I wonder who on record takes this movement at a real speedy "Allegro con brio" throughout?
Try the mono Szell. He takes the whole thing at a clip. Much better than the drab Cleveland recording. Weingartner is rather lively, too.

DH
Herman
2018-12-25 15:13:54 UTC
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Post by drh8h
Try the mono Szell. He takes the whole thing at a clip. Much better than the drab Cleveland recording. Weingartner is rather lively, too.
DH
My feeling is that taking any Brahms symphony "at a clip" means losing a lot along the way. That doesn't mean you need to take it slow and ponderously.
Herman
2018-12-24 16:19:33 UTC
Permalink
Post by Ricardo Jimenez
Here we go again. Brahms and Schumann consistently don't give their
works the orchestral dress they deserve. If you listen to their
German contemporaries like Otto von Nicolai, Josef Rheinberger or
Joachim Raff you wonder why such greats knew so much less than those
second raters. It isn't just a matter of balance; it has to do with
distributing the work among the string, woodwind and brass choirs and
not padding out the texture by doubling (Brahms overuses the horns for
that). I think that Mackerras does a good job of clarifying Brahms by
using a small orchestra. However, I keeping hearing in my head, the
finale of the third with a full Wagnerian treatment. Unfortunately I
don't have the skill to put it down on paper. :-(
Indeed, it is an option. Maybe Brahms just didn't know what he was doing.

Another option is Brahms (and Schumann) was misunderstood by a large number of conductors, who thought Brahms should sound like the musical equivalent of meatloaf.

Consider the cases of Giulini and Bernstein, performing Brahms 3 and 4 at roughly the same point in time, the late eighties, with the exact same orchestra, the Vienna PO, in the same venue,

Bernstein turns Brahms into the proverbial meatloaf, because he likes it that way, and Giulini, no matter how you like his way otherwise, maintains air and light around the music.

Consider a conductor like Barbirolli who managed to do the same thing, years before.
dk
2018-12-24 16:08:33 UTC
Permalink
Post by Herman
Post by dk
De gustibus....
that goes without saying. However there are some non-gustatory
things to be said about Bernstein's Brahms.
One cannot chew the score.... though a few dogs tried!
Post by Herman
It used to be said that all of these mid-century symphonists
didn't know how to write for orchestra; Schumann and Brahms
tended to sound too thick and glutinous.
I do not recall ever holding or stating such a view.
Post by Herman
conductors did not know how to balance the orchestra
in these composers.
My mechanic also doesn't know how to balance my Audis.
Unfortunately, I have to rely on him since I am no
car mechanic!
Post by Herman
Also because they thought (especially in Brahms's
case) because there was too much going on at the
same time, so one had to privilege one line over
all the others, in order to make it from climax
to climax.
One is supposed to put forth the party line!
Post by Herman
Bernstein is interesting in that he is about the
last (major) conductor to perpetuate, even reinforce,
this mistake. He kind of conducts orchestral reductions
of Brahms and Schumann.
Have you heard Karajan?

dk
Matthew Silverstein
2018-12-25 11:40:42 UTC
Permalink
Post by Herman
that goes without saying. However there are some non-gustatory things to be
said about Bernstein's Brahms.
<snip>

Could you please explain how the claims that follows this comment are "non-gustatory"? I think Bernstein's Brahms and (especially) Schumann are superb; he sounds fully "inside" the music to me.

I continued to be amazed by the fact that people feel the need to pass off their preferences as objective in this way. It's never enough to say, "I don't like it" or "It doesn't work for me."

Matty
Herman
2018-12-25 11:54:54 UTC
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Herman
2018-12-25 11:58:17 UTC
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I also happened to see a little video introduction by Bernstein on the Brahms Third, which strangely turned into a discussion of Wagner's antisemitism. WTF?
dk
2018-12-24 09:12:47 UTC
Permalink
Post by Herman
Post by dk
It was a very special occasion as one
can imagine and those were extremely
intense readings -- Lenny on steroids!
Sounds truly horrible. Bernstein's Brahms
symphonies are kind of demonstration cases
of How Not To.
If you don't like Bernstein try Sawallisch:



dk
dk
2018-12-24 09:17:01 UTC
Permalink
Post by Herman
Post by dk
It was a very special occasion as one
can imagine and those were extremely
intense readings -- Lenny on steroids!
Sounds truly horrible. Bernstein's Brahms
symphonies are kind of demonstration cases
of How Not To.
To my ears the Encyclopedia of How Not To
starts with Karajan and includes a few
other Konduktors. Other letters too:
T and W.

dk
Frank Berger
2018-12-24 16:17:38 UTC
Permalink
Post by dk
Post by Matthew Silverstein
Given the preferences you've already stated, I imagine
you'd hate my favorites, which include Walter/NYPO,
Gardiner, Levine/VPO, and Giulini/VPO. I tend to
find middle-of-the-road performances of this
symphony somewhat dull; hence my preference
for Walter (on the urgent end of the spectrum)
Sawallisch/VSO leave poor Walter in the dust!
http://youtu.be/XzSG1mmoDJY
Walter must have been the most over-rated
conductor ever! Even Klemperer does better!
http://youtu.be/xu6hWEeTneA
Post by Matthew Silverstein
and Giulini (on the grand end of the spectrum).
For that end of the spectrum, Celibidache
and Lenny take the trophy!
http://youtu.be/I7dQxW77S4A
http://youtu.be/bW9yjpH0pK4
http://youtu.be/jZ8dUTonOsk
http://youtu.be/4L0MqnAoEJM
The finest Brahms 3rd I heard live was by
Lenny conducting the Israel Philharmonic
in late 1973 or early 1974 in its first
concert after the Yom Kippur War that
included Brahms' 1st and 3rd symphonies.
It was a very special occasion as one
can imagine and those were extremely
intense readings -- Lenny on steroids!
I am unable to find the 3rd on YouTube,
http://youtu.be/ansHeEw1FL4
Enjoy!
dk
Both are available together on DVD.
dk
2018-12-24 17:23:13 UTC
Permalink
Post by dk
Post by Matthew Silverstein
Given the preferences you've already stated, I imagine
you'd hate my favorites, which include Walter/NYPO,
Gardiner, Levine/VPO, and Giulini/VPO. I tend to
find middle-of-the-road performances of this
symphony somewhat dull; hence my preference
for Walter (on the urgent end of the spectrum)
Sawallisch/VSO leave poor Walter in the dust!
http://youtu.be/XzSG1mmoDJY
Walter must have been the most over-rated
conductor ever! Even Klemperer does better!
http://youtu.be/xu6hWEeTneA
Post by Matthew Silverstein
and Giulini (on the grand end of the spectrum).
For that end of the spectrum, Celibidache
and Lenny take the trophy!
http://youtu.be/I7dQxW77S4A
http://youtu.be/bW9yjpH0pK4
http://youtu.be/jZ8dUTonOsk
http://youtu.be/4L0MqnAoEJM
The finest Brahms 3rd I heard live was by
Lenny conducting the Israel Philharmonic
in late 1973 or early 1974 in its first
concert after the Yom Kippur War that
included Brahms' 1st and 3rd symphonies.
It was a very special occasion as one
can imagine and those were extremely
intense readings -- Lenny on steroids!
I am unable to find the 3rd on YouTube,
http://youtu.be/ansHeEw1FL4
AFAIK the DVD has different performances
than the live ones at Binyanei Hauma I
was referring to. Can you verify the
date and circumstances of these
performances?

dk
Frank Berger
2018-12-24 22:21:59 UTC
Permalink
Post by dk
Post by dk
Post by Matthew Silverstein
Given the preferences you've already stated, I imagine
you'd hate my favorites, which include Walter/NYPO,
Gardiner, Levine/VPO, and Giulini/VPO. I tend to
find middle-of-the-road performances of this
symphony somewhat dull; hence my preference
for Walter (on the urgent end of the spectrum)
Sawallisch/VSO leave poor Walter in the dust!
http://youtu.be/XzSG1mmoDJY
Walter must have been the most over-rated
conductor ever! Even Klemperer does better!
http://youtu.be/xu6hWEeTneA
Post by Matthew Silverstein
and Giulini (on the grand end of the spectrum).
For that end of the spectrum, Celibidache
and Lenny take the trophy!
http://youtu.be/I7dQxW77S4A
http://youtu.be/bW9yjpH0pK4
http://youtu.be/jZ8dUTonOsk
http://youtu.be/4L0MqnAoEJM
The finest Brahms 3rd I heard live was by
Lenny conducting the Israel Philharmonic
in late 1973 or early 1974 in its first
concert after the Yom Kippur War that
included Brahms' 1st and 3rd symphonies.
It was a very special occasion as one
can imagine and those were extremely
intense readings -- Lenny on steroids!
I am unable to find the 3rd on YouTube,
http://youtu.be/ansHeEw1FL4
AFAIK the DVD has different performances
than the live ones at Binyanei Hauma I
was referring to. Can you verify the
date and circumstances of these
performances?
dk
Euroarts DVD 2072048D
Live, Great Concert Hall, Jerusalem, 1-3 August 1973
AB
2018-12-24 19:50:18 UTC
Permalink
Post by dk
Walter must have been the most over-rated
conductor ever! Even Klemperer does better!
http://youtu.be/xu6hWEeTneA
.
interesting comment..... years ago i spoke to a famous American orchestral oboist who also said that Walter was over-rated. His favorite conductor was Monteux
AB
Post by dk
Enjoy!
dk
Herman
2018-12-24 20:28:53 UTC
Permalink
Post by AB
Post by dk
Walter must have been the most over-rated
conductor ever! Even Klemperer does better!
http://youtu.be/xu6hWEeTneA
.
interesting comment..... years ago i spoke to a famous American orchestral oboist who also said that Walter was over-rated. His favorite conductor was Monteux
Walter is not overrated.
The word overrated is silly anyway.
AB
2018-12-24 21:01:12 UTC
Permalink
Post by Herman
Post by AB
Post by dk
Walter must have been the most over-rated
conductor ever! Even Klemperer does better!
http://youtu.be/xu6hWEeTneA
.
interesting comment..... years ago i spoke to a famous American orchestral oboist who also said that Walter was over-rated. His favorite conductor was Monteux
Walter is not overrated.
The word overrated is silly anyway.
your comments are overrated:-)

AB
Herman
2018-12-24 21:09:06 UTC
Permalink
Post by AB
your comments are overrated:-)
AB
I post on the presumption that pretty much nobody cares.
s***@gmail.com
2018-12-24 16:19:46 UTC
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Oivin Fjelstad and the Oslo Philharmonic takes that first movement rather quickly. A Readers Digest issue originally, ReDiscovery has it as a download.

Stan Punzel
Kerrison
2018-12-24 18:53:08 UTC
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Post by s***@gmail.com
Oivin Fjelstad and the Oslo Philharmonic takes that first movement rather quickly. A Readers Digest issue originally, ReDiscovery has it as a download.
Stan Punzel
Thanks for the tip. It's also on YouTube, the four mvts uploaded separately, with the total timing clocking in at just under the 30-minutes mark ...

1st Mvt "Allegro con brio" ...



2nd mvt "Andante" ...



3rd mvt "Poco allegretto" ...



4th mvt "Allegro" ...



I suspect the sound of the original is better than Orchard's upload but it will give you an idea. He certainly doesn't hang around and since this thread is about the work's "balance" it will be interesting to hear what is thought about the microphone set-up in this recording. Oivin certainly shakes the cobwebs out, particularly in the finale, so I'm pleased to have been alerted to this one!
Herman
2018-12-24 19:12:06 UTC
Permalink
Post by Kerrison
I suspect the sound of the original is better than Orchard's upload but it will give you an idea. He certainly doesn't hang around and since this thread is about the work's "balance" it will be interesting to hear what is thought about the microphone set-up in this recording. Oivin certainly shakes the cobwebs out, particularly in the finale, so I'm pleased to have been alerted to this one!
I have listened to the Andante, 2nd mvt.
It sounds like the recording priviliges the first violins in a way I call "a thousand violins". That's why it's very hard to hear the rocking motiv in the other strings. Otherwise it's not bad.
c***@gmail.com
2018-12-24 19:20:11 UTC
Permalink
Post by Herman
Post by Kerrison
I suspect the sound of the original is better than Orchard's upload but it will give you an idea. He certainly doesn't hang around and since this thread is about the work's "balance" it will be interesting to hear what is thought about the microphone set-up in this recording. Oivin certainly shakes the cobwebs out, particularly in the finale, so I'm pleased to have been alerted to this one!
I have listened to the Andante, 2nd mvt.
It sounds like the recording priviliges the first violins in a way I call "a thousand violins". That's why it's very hard to hear the rocking motiv in the other strings. Otherwise it's not bad.
Have you tried Eliasberg or Mitropoulos? The latter is terrific for three movements, imo, but let down by a draggy fourth. Eliasberg was generally excellent in Brahms based on what I've heard (Syms 3 & 4; Double Concerto; Violin Concerto). I like his 3rd very much. And I agree that this is a very hard work to get "right". Too few performances take to heart the "con brio" part of the first movement tempo marking, for example.

AC
s***@gmail.com
2018-12-24 19:56:26 UTC
Permalink
That is why I’ve liked the ReDiscovery download. Sound is great (Oslo did a bunch of recordings, some on RD, others on RCA Camden), better than the original RD issue. IIRC this was in the first RD LP box Music of the World’s Great Composers.
Alex Brown
2018-12-24 17:22:44 UTC
Permalink
Post by Herman
Yesterday and today I listened to various recordings of Brahms' Third symphony, and I couldn't help but notice how hard it is to get the balance right in this work.
I'm not sure it's a "balanced" work and maybe benefits from an
unbalanced approach - to wit, Furtwängler's 1949 Berlin recording
deserves its reputation: propulsive, trenchant and "safety off" in all
regards. Lovers of this symphony need to hear this recording.
--
- Alex Brown
MELMOTH
2018-12-25 12:14:02 UTC
Permalink
Post by Herman
I should get Haitink 1970 recording some time.
*Kubelik* /WPO...
*Szell* /Cleveland...
*Jochum* /RPO...
*Barbirolli* /WPO...
*Monteux* /BPO...
s***@gmail.com
2018-12-25 12:34:51 UTC
Permalink
Post by Herman
The two best recordings in my collection were Haitink with the Boston SO, beautifully played and expertly paced, and Kubelik and the Bavarian RSO, which has a little edge for me, because of the German sounds coming from the orchestra, a recordings that superbly catches the dynamics and most of all a haunting second movement, with wind playing that's just out of this world.
I should get Haitink 1970 recording some time.
Probably the most pleasurable listening I have done over the last year has been with Kubelik's 1956/1957 Vienna Philharmonic Brahms cycle on Australian Eloquence. I've known Brahms Third since eighth grade when I purchased an Ormandy recording on 78s for 25 cents at a public school bazaar sixty years ago. With Kubelik there is a sense of discovery, of magic or revelation. For the life of me I couldn't say how he does it, but there are subtle mood shifts that I do not pick up in other recordings.

I read a comment here that the Bavarian RSO cycle is similar, but in better sound. The sound of the cycle on Orfeo is modern while that on Eloquence is early stereo and not particularly miraculous like the Solti Rheingold recorded around the same time. The differences are acoustical, with more resonance and distance on the Orfeo discs. I prefer the close up sound of the older recording. The ear adjusts to the occasionally thinner violin sound. This is probably personal bias. John Culshaw in Putting the Record Straight comments that Kubelik "had problems in exerting proper authority over the Vienna Philharmonic," and as a result the sound was "'swimming'" in these sessions. Culshaw compares Kubelik unfavorably to Reiner and Szell (142-143).
m***@gmail.com
2018-12-25 19:13:26 UTC
Permalink
Not intentionally but most of my favorite thirds are quite old recordings. Clemens Krauss with the VPO, Koussevitzky with the BSO, Karl Bohm's early 50s mono recording with the VPO, and probably 'the' favorite: Bruno Walter's first recording with the VPO as well.



From modern recordings I do really like the Abbado and also Levine's second recording.
Lawrence Kart
2018-12-25 20:52:14 UTC
Permalink
Steinberg, Pittsburgh S.O. (Command).
Frank Berger
2018-12-25 21:29:14 UTC
Permalink
Post by Lawrence Kart
Steinberg, Pittsburgh S.O. (Command).
This is the MCA, right?
Lawrence Kart
2018-12-25 21:47:31 UTC
Permalink
Post by Frank Berger
Post by Lawrence Kart
Steinberg, Pittsburgh S.O. (Command).
This is the MCA, right?
Right. But I've heard that original Command LPs (which is what I have) sound better than the MCA CDs.
Frank Berger
2018-12-25 23:03:10 UTC
Permalink
Post by Lawrence Kart
Post by Frank Berger
Post by Lawrence Kart
Steinberg, Pittsburgh S.O. (Command).
This is the MCA, right?
Right. But I've heard that original Command LPs (which is what I have) sound better than the MCA CDs.
There are at least two private label transfers (pirates?) transferred
from LP or in one case 4 track tape. I don't know anything about the
quality
g***@gmail.com
2018-12-25 23:47:31 UTC
Permalink
Post by Lawrence Kart
Post by Frank Berger
Post by Lawrence Kart
Steinberg, Pittsburgh S.O. (Command).
This is the MCA, right?
Right. But I've heard that original Command LPs (which is what I have) sound better than the MCA CDs.
Nowadays, the original lps turn up in places like GOODWILL stores.
dk
2018-12-25 23:58:43 UTC
Permalink
Post by g***@gmail.com
Post by Lawrence Kart
Post by Frank Berger
Post by Lawrence Kart
Steinberg, Pittsburgh S.O. (Command).
This is the MCA, right?
Right. But I've heard that original Command
LPs (which is what I have) sound better than
the MCA CDs.
Nowadays, the original lps turn up in places
like GOODWILL stores.
Can you provide a quote to support your statement?

Merry Christmas!

dk
Lawrence Kart
2018-12-26 02:19:00 UTC
Permalink
Post by dk
Post by g***@gmail.com
Post by Lawrence Kart
Post by Frank Berger
Post by Lawrence Kart
Steinberg, Pittsburgh S.O. (Command).
This is the MCA, right?
Right. But I've heard that original Command
LPs (which is what I have) sound better than
the MCA CDs.
Nowadays, the original lps turn up in places
like GOODWILL stores.
Can you provide a quote to support your statement?
Merry Christmas!
dk
If you mean my statement, there's this quote (below) from an Amazon customer. All I can vouch for is the sound on the Command LPs.

Larry Kart

"William Steinberg's Brahms cycle was originally recorded by a very talented engineering team, using what was then state-of-the-art 35mm film as the recording medium, in Pittsburgh's Soldiers and Sailors Hall. The performances are really compelling, and I've enjoyed them for many years on vinyl as well as on these CD reissues, although the original Command Classics LPs provide better sound quality than this issue in terms of perceived dynamic range, tonal subtlety and acoustic details.

"This 1988 CD transfer by MCA sounds like it was produced from second or third generation tape copies used for the 1970s Westminster Gold LP reissues, rather than a direct transfer from the original 35 mm film recordings. My five-star rating is based on the merits of the orchestra's excellence and the cohesiveness of Steinberg's attention to the music's flow and architecture. Word has it that in the mid-1970s ABC Records, which acquired Command Classics in 1965, purged many of their original films and tapes as a corporate cost-saving measure, so Deutsche Grammophon (which subsequently purchased the MCA/Westminster/Command catalogs) possesses whatever source copies exist. Third-party specialty firms like 'klassic haus' are offering private reissues dubbed from commercially-issued LP or reel-to-reel tape copies, so that is an alternative to these MCA reissues."
dk
2018-12-26 03:41:35 UTC
Permalink
Post by Lawrence Kart
Post by dk
Post by g***@gmail.com
Post by Lawrence Kart
Post by Frank Berger
Post by Lawrence Kart
Steinberg, Pittsburgh S.O. (Command).
This is the MCA, right?
Right. But I've heard that original Command
LPs (which is what I have) sound better than
the MCA CDs.
Nowadays, the original lps turn up in places
like GOODWILL stores.
Can you provide a quote to support your statement?
Merry Christmas!
If you mean my statement, there's this quote (below)
from an Amazon customer. All I can vouch for is the
sound on the Command LPs.
Thanks, no!
That was addressed to gggg....
Sorry if that was obscured
by the indentations.
Merry Christmas!
dk
Frank Berger
2018-12-26 15:43:06 UTC
Permalink
Post by Lawrence Kart
Post by dk
Post by g***@gmail.com
Post by Lawrence Kart
Post by Frank Berger
Post by Lawrence Kart
Steinberg, Pittsburgh S.O. (Command).
This is the MCA, right?
Right. But I've heard that original Command
LPs (which is what I have) sound better than
the MCA CDs.
Nowadays, the original lps turn up in places
like GOODWILL stores.
Can you provide a quote to support your statement?
Merry Christmas!
dk
If you mean my statement, there's this quote (below) from an Amazon customer. All I can vouch for is the sound on the Command LPs.
Larry Kart
"William Steinberg's Brahms cycle was originally recorded by a very talented engineering team, using what was then state-of-the-art 35mm film as the recording medium, in Pittsburgh's Soldiers and Sailors Hall. The performances are really compelling, and I've enjoyed them for many years on vinyl as well as on these CD reissues, although the original Command Classics LPs provide better sound quality than this issue in terms of perceived dynamic range, tonal subtlety and acoustic details.
"This 1988 CD transfer by MCA sounds like it was produced from second or third generation tape copies used for the 1970s Westminster Gold LP reissues, rather than a direct transfer from the original 35 mm film recordings. My five-star rating is based on the merits of the orchestra's excellence and the cohesiveness of Steinberg's attention to the music's flow and architecture. Word has it that in the mid-1970s ABC Records, which acquired Command Classics in 1965, purged many of their original films and tapes as a corporate cost-saving measure, so Deutsche Grammophon (which subsequently purchased the MCA/Westminster/Command catalogs) possesses whatever source copies exist. Third-party specialty firms like 'klassic haus' are offering private reissues dubbed from commercially-issued LP or reel-to-reel tape copies, so that is an alternative to these MCA reissues."
It looks like there are three private label sources for the Steinberg
Brahms Command recordings: Memories, HDTT ($20 per symphony) and
Klassic Haus ($12 per disc packaged strangely, you have to buy 3 CDs).

Can anyone comment on the merits of these transfers? The Klassic Haus
disc with 3 & 4 was transferred from tape, the others from LP. The HDTT
transfers were from 4 track tapes. Don't know about the Memories.
John Fowler
2018-12-26 13:59:54 UTC
Permalink
William Steinberg recordings with the Pittsburgh Symphony for Command Classics.
Produced by Enoch Light.

May 1-2, 1961 Johannes Brahms: Symphony No. 2
May 1-2, 1961 Sergei Rachmaninoff: Symphony No. 2
November 1-4, 1961 Johannes Brahms: Symphony No. 1
November 1-4, 1961 Richard Wagner: Selections from Der Ring des Nibelungen
November 1-4, 1961 Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 7
April 30-May 2, 1962 Johannes Brahms: Symphony No. 3, Tragic Overture
April 30-May 2, 1962 Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 4, Leonore Overture No. 3
April 30-May 2, 1962 Franz Schubert: Symphony No. 3
April 30-May 2, 1962 Franz Schubert: Symphony No. 8
April 29-May 1, 1963 Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 3, "Eroica"
April 29-May 1, 1963 Richard Wagner: Preludes and Overtures
April 29-May 1, 1963 Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 4
April 27-29, 1964 Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 1, Symphony No. 2
April 27-29, 1964 Giuseppe Verdi: String Quartet in E (arr. Steinberg)
April 27-29, 1964 Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Nutcracker Suite
June 7-9, 1965 Johannes Brahms: Symphony No. 4
June 7-9, 1965 Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 5
June 7-9, 1965 Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 6
April 4-8, 1966 Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 9
April 4-8, 1966 Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 8
April 4-8, 1966 Igor Stravinsky: Petrouchka
May 15, 17, 18, 1967 Maurice Ravel: Valses nobles et sentimentales
May 15, 17, 18, 1967 Antonín Dvořák: Scherzo capriccioso
May 15, 17, 18, 1967 Hector Berlioz: Rakoczy March
May 15, 17, 18, 1967 Camille Saint-Saëns: French Military March
May 15, 17, 18, 1967 Johann Strauss: Perpetual Motion, Tritsch-Tratsch Polka
May 15, 17, 18, 1967 George Gershwin: Porgy and Bess - Symphonic Picture, An American in Paris
May 15, 17, 18, 1967 Aaron Copland: Appalachian Spring, Billy the Kid
April 6–8, 1968 Dimitri Shostakovich: Symphony No. 1
April 6–8, 1968 Anton Bruckner: Symphony No. 7, Overture in G Minor
April 9–10, 1968 Robert Russell Bennett: The Sound of Music - Symphonic Picture, My Fair Lady - Symphonic Picture

Found on Wikipedia:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Steinberg
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enoch_Light
g***@gmail.com
2018-12-26 16:10:10 UTC
Permalink
Post by Lawrence Kart
Post by Frank Berger
Post by Lawrence Kart
Steinberg, Pittsburgh S.O. (Command).
This is the MCA, right?
Right. But I've heard that original Command LPs (which is what I have) sound better than the MCA CDs.
How many of them appeared on reel-to-r. tape?:

https://picclick.com/Steinberg-BEETHOVEN-EROICA-Stereo-4-Track-Open-Reel-263979585828.html
v***@gmail.com
2018-12-27 17:46:23 UTC
Permalink
all Command classical titles also are on 4 track reel to reel, the master tapes were deleted, the company use the tapes for the new recording, i read somewere that all the reprints were done from low quality copies or lp
Frank Berger
2018-12-27 18:28:52 UTC
Permalink
Post by v***@gmail.com
all Command classical titles also are on 4 track reel to reel, the master tapes were deleted, the company use the tapes for the new recording, i read somewere that all the reprints were done from low quality copies or lp
As I mentioned before, some of the private label transfers were from
Command 4 track tapes. Not the masters obviously. When you say the
company uses the tapes you mean the MCA transfers, right? Other than
private transfers there haven't been any official releases in 30 years,
right?
v***@gmail.com
2018-12-27 22:44:27 UTC
Permalink
sorry but my computer crashed so all my bookmaks where lost and i can not find the details about the Command recordings, but i remenbert that the master tapes weren t keep, as they were expensive so more than one recording was done with one tape, for this reason i beginning to collect the 4 track reels. later ABC reissued all the lps but i didn t find any detail about the quality of the transfer or the kind of source that was used, about the MCA cds i don t have any of them but the general opininion is that the sound is very bad. sorry i can not elaborate more because of my poor english.
dk
2018-12-27 22:48:44 UTC
Permalink
Post by v***@gmail.com
sorry but my computer crashed so all my bookmaks
where lost and i can not find the details about
the Command recordings, but i remenbert that the
master tapes weren t keep, as they were expensive
so more than one recording was done with one tape,
Didn't Google save your bookmarks -- as well
as the history of all the sites you visited?


dk
v***@gmail.com
2018-12-28 19:31:34 UTC
Permalink
for crashed i mean really the hard disk was unreadable and i have no backup or cloud storage
Oscar
2018-12-28 22:44:44 UTC
Permalink
We should start a new thread called BSer or No BSer

BSer
Lenny
Celi
Levine
Dudamel
Rattle

Non-BSer
Szell
Reiner
Marriner
Tennstedt
Toscanini (!)
Bozo
2018-12-27 19:10:06 UTC
Permalink
Post by Lawrence Kart
Steinberg, Pittsburgh S.O. (Command).
Agreed. Mine also the original Command 35mm lp.
Greg
2018-12-27 02:55:43 UTC
Permalink
Post by Herman
Yesterday and today I listened to various recordings of Brahms' Third symphony, and I couldn't help but notice how hard it is to get the balance right in this work. The orchestral balances, but also between pushing forward and lingering.
<snip>

I think that’s a good, succinct description of the problem with most performances of this symphony. I used to think the main problem was that most are simply too slow, but that’s not quite it. I think there are two main problems, and your description more or less covers them:

The first problem is that most are too thick and blended and monotone, and then the piece becomes lifeless and dull no matter what the pacing is. Faster is better under those conditions because it is over quicker, but even those performances (e.g., Reiner, Kempe, Rowicki) don’t really work. On the other hand, a range of tempi can work if there is enough color (and variation thereof) to bring out the inner dialogue/drama between orchestra sections and over the long range structure of the piece. I feel like this is often dismissed by some listeners as merely being able to hear more of the details of the score at given moments, but it is much more important than that with a good conductor. There is simply much, much more dramatic potential to be realized when the conductor can effectively and logically (and audibly) vary the dynamics of different sections of the orchestra over time than when he/she is simply making the entire orchestra play softer or louder. This is why something like Karajan/BPO or Solti can seem so tedious to my ears, while Klemperer or Szell can be much more engrossing, even at similar tempi.

With regard to the first problem, several achieve better balances/transparency than most, and these are a good place to start if that is what you are looking for:

Szell/Sony
Klemperer
Walter (stereo)
Haitink/RCO
Levine/VPO
Jurowski
Chailly/Leipzig
Ashkenazy
Ticciati
Mravinsky
Gardiner

Note that not all of these are favorites of mine (but you may like them) due to other factors, such as…the second problem, which is that this symphony is both wistful/contemplative and passionate/propulsive, not all at the same time but within movements and often moment to moment, and conductors need to be able to navigate the emotional/dramatic contours effectively or it starts to seem mechanical. The vast majority of performances suffer from this problem to one degree or another imo - they seem like the pacing is imposed on the music in places rather than an organic result of the dramatic arc of the score. A certain flexibility is called for I think, but not often provided. This is a bit more subjective than the balance issue - a performance that seems to be paced exactly right to me at a given moment might seem to you to be rushed or to drag interminably. So, for me, something like Gardiner pushes things too much in places as if he has a certain (very fast) tempo he wants to hit no matter what, and on the other extreme, Haitink seems plodding in places like he is simply holding the music back artificially when I want it to surge forward. Others may disagree, but the only way to judge is to listen for oneself.

There are other factors to consider as well, of course, such as the basic sound of the orchestra itself. You may, for instance, find Gardiner or Ticciati to be too astringent sounding and prefer the warm VPO sound of Levine. Or you may love (or hate) the unique brass sound of Mravinsky’s orchestra. Etc, etc…

The end result of all this is that there aren’t many performances of this piece that really satisfy me. I haven’t compared recordings for quite some time, but if I were to do so now, I might begin with Szell, Mravinsky, Levine, Chailly, and Ticciati. (Has anyone else listened to the Ticciati? That one seems to come as close as any to my ideal of balances and pacing. If the orchestra were only a bit bigger and warmer sounding, I might have found the one…)

Greg
dk
2018-12-27 08:15:01 UTC
Permalink
Post by Matthew Silverstein
Post by Herman
Yesterday and today I listened to various recordings of Brahms' Third symphony, and I couldn't help but notice how hard it is to get the balance right in this work. The orchestral balances, but also between pushing forward and lingering.
<snip>
The first problem is that most are too thick and blended and monotone, and then the piece becomes lifeless and dull no matter what the pacing is. Faster is better under those conditions because it is over quicker, but even those performances (e.g., Reiner, Kempe, Rowicki) don’t really work. On the other hand, a range of tempi can work if there is enough color (and variation thereof) to bring out the inner dialogue/drama between orchestra sections and over the long range structure of the piece. I feel like this is often dismissed by some listeners as merely being able to hear more of the details of the score at given moments, but it is much more important than that with a good conductor. There is simply much, much more dramatic potential to be realized when the conductor can effectively and logically (and audibly) vary the dynamics of different sections of the orchestra over time than when he/she is simply making the entire orchestra play softer or louder. This is why something like Karajan/BPO or Solti can seem so tedious to my ears, while Klemperer or Szell can be much more engrossing, even at similar tempi.
Szell/Sony
Klemperer
Walter (stereo)
Haitink/RCO
Levine/VPO
Jurowski
Chailly/Leipzig
Ashkenazy
Ticciati
Mravinsky
Gardiner
Note that not all of these are favorites of mine (but you may like them) due to other factors, such as…the second problem, which is that this symphony is both wistful/contemplative and passionate/propulsive, not all at the same time but within movements and often moment to moment, and conductors need to be able to navigate the emotional/dramatic contours effectively or it starts to seem mechanical. The vast majority of performances suffer from this problem to one degree or another imo - they seem like the pacing is imposed on the music in places rather than an organic result of the dramatic arc of the score. A certain flexibility is called for I think, but not often provided. This is a bit more subjective than the balance issue - a performance that seems to be paced exactly right to me at a given moment might seem to you to be rushed or to drag interminably. So, for me, something like Gardiner pushes things too much in places as if he has a certain (very fast) tempo he wants to hit no matter what, and on the other extreme, Haitink seems plodding in places like he is simply holding the music back artificially when I want it to surge forward. Others may disagree, but the only way to judge is to listen for oneself.
There are other factors to consider as well, of course, such as the basic sound of the orchestra itself. You may, for instance, find Gardiner or Ticciati to be too astringent sounding and prefer the warm VPO sound of Levine. Or you may love (or hate) the unique brass sound of Mravinsky’s orchestra. Etc, etc…
The end result of all this is that there aren’t many performances of this piece that really satisfy me. I haven’t compared recordings for quite some time, but if I were to do so now, I might begin with Szell, Mravinsky, Levine, Chailly, and Ticciati. (Has anyone else listened to the Ticciati? That one seems to come as close as any to my ideal of balances and pacing. If the orchestra were only a bit bigger and warmer sounding, I might have found the one…)
I would be curious to hear your
opinions of Sawallisch's 1960s
recording with the VSO (not
the later 1980s performance
with the LSO), as well as of
Celibidache's various live
performances.

Thanks!

dk
Greg
2018-12-28 01:55:08 UTC
Permalink
Post by dk
I would be curious to hear your
opinions of Sawallisch's 1960s
recording with the VSO (not
the later 1980s performance
with the LSO), as well as of
Celibidache's various live
performances.
Thanks!
dk
It's probably been 15 years since I last listened to the Sawallisch, and at least 5 since I listened to any of Celi's Brahms. I don't have particularly positive memories of either, although I'm not sure if the Celibidache performances you are referring to are the same ones I have heard. (I seem to recall some very poorly recorded live recordings I got from somewhere.) I see that you posted some links earlier - maybe I will re-aquaint myself with them in the coming days.

Greg
Herman
2018-12-27 08:41:55 UTC
Permalink
Post by Matthew Silverstein
Post by Herman
Yesterday and today I listened to various recordings of Brahms' Third symphony, and I couldn't help but notice how hard it is to get the balance right in this work. The orchestral balances, but also between pushing forward and lingering.
<snip>
Looks like we feel the same way about how Brahms Third works best.

It's funny how we do wind up with different preferred recordings. You don't seem to know the Kubelik BRSO; I am (as yet) unfamiliar with Ticciati.
MELMOTH
2018-12-27 18:23:49 UTC
Permalink
Post by Herman
You don't seem to know the Kubelik BRSO
IMHO, Kubelik with WPO is infinitely better....(Decca)...
Ricardo Jimenez
2018-12-27 16:51:01 UTC
Permalink
There are other factors to consider as well, of course, such as the basic sound of the orchestra itself. You may, for instance, find Gardiner or Ticciati to be too astringent sounding and prefer the warm VPO sound of Levine. Or you may love (or hate) the unique brass sound of Mravinsky’s orchestra. Etc, etc…
The end result of all this is that there aren’t many performances of this piece that really satisfy me. I haven’t compared recordings for quite some time, but if I were to do so now, I might begin with Szell, Mravinsky, Levine, Chailly, and Ticciati. (Has anyone else listened to the Ticciati? That one seems to come as close as any to my ideal of balances and pacing. If the orchestra were only a bit bigger and warmer sounding, I might have found the one…)
Greg
You seem to be very reluctant to come out and say it: "The composer is
to blame for such great music often not satisfying in performance
because he dressed it in dull rags".
Herman
2018-12-27 17:00:26 UTC
Permalink
Post by Ricardo Jimenez
You seem to be very reluctant to come out and say it: "The composer is
to blame for such great music often not satisfying in performance
because he dressed it in dull rags".
wow, talk about having an agenda!

RMCR is chock-full of folks who are willing to argue till the cows come home that any given composer they have strong feelings about is only good in a very limited nr of recordings.

Greg (and I) are doing the same thing for this particular symphony, more or less.

You seem to be eager to say (strangely) that Brahms really didn't know what he was doing.
Ricardo Jimenez
2018-12-27 17:19:17 UTC
Permalink
Post by Herman
Post by Ricardo Jimenez
You seem to be very reluctant to come out and say it: "The composer is
to blame for such great music often not satisfying in performance
because he dressed it in dull rags".
wow, talk about having an agenda!
RMCR is chock-full of folks who are willing to argue till the cows come home that any given composer they have strong feelings about is only good in a very limited nr of recordings.
Greg (and I) are doing the same thing for this particular symphony, more or less.
You seem to be eager to say (strangely) that Brahms really didn't know what he was doing.
Herman, you are usually the only one here who defends Brahms when I
make such a complaint. And plenty of much better musicians than me
have made it from the time the composer issued his first scores. Have
some fun and imagine what Berlioz or Wagner would have done if they
were doing the scoring.
dk
2018-12-27 20:14:36 UTC
Permalink
Post by Ricardo Jimenez
Post by Herman
You seem to be eager to say (strangely) that Brahms really didn't
know what he was doing.
Herman, you are usually the only one here who defends Brahms when I
make such a complaint. And plenty of much better musicians than me
have made it from the time the composer issued his first scores. Have
some fun and imagine what Berlioz or Wagner would have done if they
were doing the scoring.
Is the "scoring" the only metric that matters?
Or even the most important one? Imagine then
what Rimsky, Ravel, Rachmaninov or Respighi
might have done had they done the "scoring"!

I suspect Brahms knew perfectly well how he
wanted the work to sound, and orchestrated
accordingly. The notion that "scoring" is
somehow a distinct, independent aspect of
a symphonic work is plainly ridiculous!

dk
Bob Harper
2018-12-27 20:26:09 UTC
Permalink
Post by dk
Post by Ricardo Jimenez
Post by Herman
You seem to be eager to say (strangely) that Brahms really didn't
know what he was doing.
Herman, you are usually the only one here who defends Brahms when I
make such a complaint. And plenty of much better musicians than me
have made it from the time the composer issued his first scores. Have
some fun and imagine what Berlioz or Wagner would have done if they
were doing the scoring.
Is the "scoring" the only metric that matters?
Or even the most important one? Imagine then
what Rimsky, Ravel, Rachmaninov or Respighi
might have done had they done the "scoring"!
I suspect Brahms knew perfectly well how he
wanted the work to sound, and orchestrated
accordingly. The notion that "scoring" is
somehow a distinct, independent aspect of
a symphonic work is plainly ridiculous!
dk
I believe Brahms knew what he was doing. It is up to the conductor to
discern how to play a work, and in the case of the Brahms 3rd that's a
difficult job. But when it's done well, ...!

Bob Harper
Ricardo Jimenez
2018-12-27 22:11:13 UTC
Permalink
Post by dk
Is the "scoring" the only metric that matters?
Or even the most important one? Imagine then
what Rimsky, Ravel, Rachmaninov or Respighi
might have done had they done the "scoring"!
I suspect Brahms knew perfectly well how he
wanted the work to sound, and orchestrated
accordingly. The notion that "scoring" is
somehow a distinct, independent aspect of
a symphonic work is plainly ridiculous!
dk
Of course scoring is not the only metric that matters. If it were,
the symphonic repertory would be much different than it is. I
remember Andre Previn, in the commentary on a DVD of the 4th symphony,
quoting Brahms claiming to have difficulty thinking in terms of color.
It is quite possible that Brahms just didn't care if some people
thought he didn't exploit instrumental color enough. Some pianists,
like Horowitz, thought that about his piano music. At least at the
time of the 1st piano concerto, Brahms did not have much confidence in
his abilities to write for orchestra. He relied on one Julius Otto
Grimm, who because he was "conservatory trained" was more schooled in
orchestration. The conductor, Bernhard Scholz, who nominated Brahms
for an honorary degree from the University of Breslau in 1880, wrote
to the composer, "Compose a fine symphony for us! But well
orchestrated, old boy, not too uniformly thick!" I think Scholz
probably wasn't very happy about the orchestration of the resulting
Academic Festival Overture.
Herman
2018-12-28 11:02:53 UTC
Permalink
Post by Ricardo Jimenez
Of course scoring is not the only metric that matters. If it were,
the symphonic repertory would be much different than it is. I
remember Andre Previn, in the commentary on a DVD of the 4th symphony,
quoting Brahms claiming to have difficulty thinking in terms of color.
People have different understandings of what "color" means.
Brahms doesn't use harp of fancy percussion, except the triangle in the Fourth.
One could say that Brahms didn't know what he was doing if he attempted something and failed at it.
However he chose to use pretty much the same orchestra Beethoven used and create his own symphonic world with that apparatus.
Brahms is one of the supremily successful composers in that his entire oeuvre has an uniquely high level artistically. There is hardly a single dud among the 120plus opus numbers. And he was very successful in the public sense: he was lauded, showered with honors and had scads of money in the second half of his life, allowing him to lavish time on his work.
It's really very funny how hard you're trying to say that he was a failure when Brahms in fact was one of the least failed composers in the entire history of music.
Brahms symphonies are full of wonderful color effects (just like Beethoven), but you need a conductor he doesn't treat Brahms as a drab motiv and theme spinner. and you need, as a listener, to have a good pair of ears. For the latter it helps not to take seriously the unending (often Anglophone) literature saying Brahms is a mostly intellectual spot-the-motiv exercise.
Post by Ricardo Jimenez
It is quite possible that Brahms just didn't care if some people
thought he didn't exploit instrumental color enough.
It is obvious, in fact, he didn't care. It's one of the prerequisites for being a great artist: following your own path and ignore tiny detractors.
Andrew Clarke
2018-12-28 11:57:12 UTC
Permalink
Post by Herman
Post by Ricardo Jimenez
Of course scoring is not the only metric that matters. If it were,
the symphonic repertory would be much different than it is. I
remember Andre Previn, in the commentary on a DVD of the 4th symphony,
quoting Brahms claiming to have difficulty thinking in terms of color.
People have different understandings of what "color" means.
Brahms doesn't use harp of fancy percussion, except the triangle in the Fourth.
One could say that Brahms didn't know what he was doing if he attempted something and failed at it.
However he chose to use pretty much the same orchestra Beethoven used and create his own symphonic world with that apparatus.
Brahms is one of the supremily successful composers in that his entire oeuvre has an uniquely high level artistically. There is hardly a single dud among the 120plus opus numbers. And he was very successful in the public sense: he was lauded, showered with honors and had scads of money in the second half of his life, allowing him to lavish time on his work.
It's really very funny how hard you're trying to say that he was a failure when Brahms in fact was one of the least failed composers in the entire history of music.
Brahms symphonies are full of wonderful color effects (just like Beethoven), but you need a conductor he doesn't treat Brahms as a drab motiv and theme spinner. and you need, as a listener, to have a good pair of ears. For the latter it helps not to take seriously the unending (often Anglophone) literature saying Brahms is a mostly intellectual spot-the-motiv exercise.
I would have thought that this unending literature finished some forty years ago at least: meanwhile anglophone conductors like Gardiner and Mackerras and Ticciati have looked at Brahms differently and demonstrated how it can be done differently, and you can include Marin Allsop's Leipzig performance of the German Requiem (Naxos) in the same category. Outside the Anglosphere, there's Riccardo Chailly's recording of the two orchestral serenades - as the conductor remarked of the first, not it only can it never seem to end, it can never seem to start either ...

Andrew Clarke
Canberra
Herman
2018-12-28 13:22:31 UTC
Permalink
I would have thought so, too. However some people have so much catching up to do they won't.
Ricardo Jimenez
2018-12-28 14:21:29 UTC
Permalink
Post by Herman
It's really very funny how hard you're trying to say that he was a failure when Brahms in fact was one of the least failed composers in the entire history of music.
Nope, I am just saying the music would be even greater if the composer
tried harder to integrate instrumental color into his compositions.
There was no reason to be so reactionary and straight laced in his
approach to the orchestra. By the way, how do you react to
Bernstein's manic takedown of Beethoven here?:

Jim Paul
2018-12-28 16:48:47 UTC
Permalink
It’s neither manic nor a takedown.
dk
2018-12-28 18:53:26 UTC
Permalink
Post by Ricardo Jimenez
Nope, I am just saying the music would be even greater
Pure speculation.
Post by Ricardo Jimenez
if the composer tried harder to integrate
instrumental color into his compositions.
Can you illustrate what you have in mind?
Take the score of the 3rd symphony and
show some examples how it could have
benefited from different orchestration.

Synthesizers are cheap nowadays! ;-)

dk
Ricardo Jimenez
2018-12-28 23:10:16 UTC
Permalink
Post by dk
Post by Ricardo Jimenez
Nope, I am just saying the music would be even greater
Pure speculation.
Post by Ricardo Jimenez
if the composer tried harder to integrate
instrumental color into his compositions.
Can you illustrate what you have in mind?
Take the score of the 3rd symphony and
show some examples how it could have
benefited from different orchestration.
Synthesizers are cheap nowadays! ;-)
dk
Pretty impossible to do on this newsgroup. I hear lots of
opportunities for orchestral excitement in all four movements while
singing the symphony to myself. Where is the heavy brass, especially
in the finale? What is there now is much too thick and tame.
Schoenberg and Rubbra showed the way in their orchestrations of
Brahms, although the former went over the top. Yes, somebody with an
bent for orchestral color would have found opportunies for harp and
percussion and would have used contrasting instrumental colors for the
different voices throughout. Get rid of the overuse of doubling in
6ths by the horns. Have you read Adam Carse's critique of Brahms'
scoring in his "History of Orchestration"? I have quoted
Rimsky-Korsakov "Principles of Orchestration" before and will do it
again, "Was Brahms ignorant of orchestration? (From the context,
Rimsky's answer is no.) And yet, nowhere in his works do we find
evidence of brilliant tone or picturesque fancy. The truth is that his
thoughts did not turn towards colour; his mind did not exact it."
dk
2018-12-28 23:48:55 UTC
Permalink
Post by Ricardo Jimenez
Post by dk
Post by Ricardo Jimenez
Nope, I am just saying the music would be even greater
Pure speculation.
Post by Ricardo Jimenez
if the composer tried harder to integrate
instrumental color into his compositions.
Can you illustrate what you have in mind?
Take the score of the 3rd symphony and
show some examples how it could have
benefited from different orchestration.
Synthesizers are cheap nowadays! ;-)
Pretty impossible to do on this newsgroup.
One does not have to do it in the newsgroup! ;-)
Try out your ideas using a synthesizer, hear
the result, post if you deem it worthwhile!
Post by Ricardo Jimenez
I hear lots of opportunities for orchestral
excitement in all four movements
This is great! Except that one person's
excitement might be another person's
irritation! ;-)
Post by Ricardo Jimenez
while singing the symphony to myself.
Which part(s)? All of them? ;-)
Post by Ricardo Jimenez
Where is the heavy brass, especially
in the finale?
Who sez heavy/ier brass is needed ?!?
More CO2 emissions to worsen climate
warming?
Post by Ricardo Jimenez
What is there now is much too thick
and tame.
Thick, perhaps. Tame, not really!
Post by Ricardo Jimenez
Schoenberg and Rubbra showed the way
in their orchestrations of Brahms,
although the former went over the top.
If I thought another composer could
orchestrate Brahms' symphonies "better"
than my friend Johannes, I would go
first to Richard Strauss, next to
Max Reger.
Post by Ricardo Jimenez
Yes, somebody with a bent for orchestral
color would have found opportunities for
harp and percussion and would have used
contrasting instrumental colors for the
different voices throughout.
I wasn't aware orchestration was about
equal opportunities! ;-)
Post by Ricardo Jimenez
Get rid of the overuse of doubling in
6ths by the horns.
Yes, that would lower the CO2 generated
by the orchestra. One should eliminate
the brass altogether! They contribute
to global warming almost as much as
cattle farts! ;-)
Post by Ricardo Jimenez
Have you read Adam Carse's critique of
Brahms' scoring in his "History of
Orchestration"?
No, but why would it matter?
Post by Ricardo Jimenez
I have quoted Rimsky-Korsakov "Principles
of Orchestration" before and will do it
again, "Was Brahms ignorant of orchestration?
(From the context, Rimsky's answer is no.)
See?
Post by Ricardo Jimenez
And yet, nowhere in his works do we find
evidence of brilliant tone or picturesque
fancy.
Would adding color to this engraving make
it any better?

https://www.rct.uk/collection/800104/a-knight-death-and-the-devil
Post by Ricardo Jimenez
The truth is that his thoughts did not turn
towards colour; his mind did not exact it."
We don't know this for a fact, it is merely
speculation, and speculation by experts is
still speculation. Anyways, if Brahms' mind
did not turn towards color, what would be
the point of re-scoring his works in ways
that would not have interested him?

I still believe it would be beneficial to
provide constructive proof of your ideas
by using a synthesizer, so we can all
understand what are you talking about!

Happy New Year!

dk
Ricardo Jimenez
2018-12-29 19:38:42 UTC
Permalink
Post by dk
I still believe it would be beneficial to
provide constructive proof of your ideas
by using a synthesizer, so we can all
understand what are you talking about!
Happy New Year!
dk
The same to you Dan and other readers here. I don't even have the
musical skills to do what you suggest. I will close out my
contributions to this thread by saying that I don't think it poor
taste to recorchestrate the standards, even though that is apparently
the current view. For example, when is the last time when Boris was
presented in other than Mussorgsky's instrumentation? I would much
rather to listen to a new instrumentation of the standard repertory,
like Brahms' and Schumann's symphonies, than the umpteenth version of
the originals. Just like you like to listen to HJ Lim's different way
to approach familiar classics. :-)

Here are two recommendations for new interesting takes on old
compositions through modern orchestration: Elena Kaats-Chernin's
versions of the 3 Monteverdi operas, available on Arthaus Blue-ray
discs; A single CD "Concertos revisités" where Mark Drobinsky performs
newer versions of cello concertos by Schumann, CPE Bach, Monn, and
Boccherini (on Spotify). It doesn't always work. Pletnev's
reorchestration of the two Chopin cocertos, adds little to their
enjoyment by me.
Herman
2018-12-29 08:57:53 UTC
Permalink
Post by Ricardo Jimenez
Pretty impossible to do on this newsgroup. I hear lots of
opportunities for orchestral excitement in all four movements while
singing the symphony to myself. Where is the heavy brass, especially
in the finale?
It seems pretty clear that Brahms just doesn't deliver what you like to hear in orchestral music. He rarely does "heavy brass" and the color you like happens only rarely, just because he eschewed instruments Beethoven didn't use.

There were people (way back) who did not like the triangle in the scherzo of nr 4.

I have had many times in the concert hall when I marveled at the fine subtle shadings of orchestral colors, mixing instrument groups, the same way Beethoven does, but I can imagine that's not enough if you prefer the way Mahler goes about it.

Brahms nr 3 is the epitome of his work with fine orchestral timbre, so you're right in posting your protests in this topic.
r***@gmail.com
2018-12-30 01:50:24 UTC
Permalink
-And yet, nowhere in his works do we find
-evidence of brilliant tone or
-picturesque fancy. The truth is that
-his
-thoughts did not turn towards colour;
-his mind did not exact it."

Brahms in truth wasn't the greatest orchestrator, unlike Rimsky (hugely underrated), but his works survive because his melodic gifts were supreme. Rimsky's melodic gifts were good too, but in a Russian way, aided by superb orchestral colour. Like Karajan recordings, Brahms is best heard on a portable radio sitting on the kitchen table, whilst staring thru the windows on a rain drenched day in November in another room. Often Brahms will evoke tears. IMHO.

Ray Hall, Taree
Herman
2018-12-30 07:06:32 UTC
Permalink
Post by r***@gmail.com
-And yet, nowhere in his works do we find
-evidence of brilliant tone or
-picturesque fancy. The truth is that
-his
-thoughts did not turn towards colour;
-his mind did not exact it."
Brahms in truth wasn't the greatest orchestrator, unlike Rimsky (hugely underrated), but his works survive because his melodic gifts were supreme. Rimsky's melodic gifts were good too, but in a Russian way, aided by superb orchestral colour. Like Karajan recordings, Brahms is best heard on a portable radio sitting on the kitchen table, whilst staring thru the windows on a rain drenched day in November in another room. Often Brahms will evoke tears. IMHO.
Ray Hall, Taree
to me this is complete nonsense, and it makes me wonder if you have ever heard Brahms in a concert hall by a first rate orchestra.
r***@gmail.com
2018-12-30 07:16:33 UTC
Permalink
-to me this is complete nonsense, and it -makes me wonder if you have ever heard
-Brahms in a concert hall by a first rate -orchestra.

Does Brahms 1st Boult LPO, mid 70s at Portsmouth Guildhall count?

So sorry you dislike my opinion. I've held it for *00's of moons. And I still prefer Rimsky.

Ray Hall, Taree
Oscar
2018-12-30 07:27:28 UTC
Permalink
I'm listening to the Top Choice right now on Esoteric SACD.

Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra / Claudio Abbado

DG ℗ 1990/1992.
Recorded at the Philharmonie, Berlin, September 1989.
Executive producer: Christopher Alder.
Recording producer: Christopher Alder.
Balance engineer: Günther Hermanns.

Esoteric ESSG-90912/4 ℗ 2018. 3SACD.
This SACD was remastered with the 96 kHz/24-bit master that was up-converted from the original 44.1 kHz/16-bit master with the high technology.
SACD re-mastering was carried out on August 27, 28 & 29, 2018 at JVC Mastering Center, Yokohama, Japan.
Producer : Motoaki Ohmachi (Esoteric Company).
Mastering engineer : Kazuie Sugimoto (JVC Mastering Center).
Special thanks to : Hiroshi Hizawa.
Design : Haruhiko Nomura.

Esoteric products for re-mastering:
D-01vU : D/A converter.
G-0Rb : Master clock generator (Rubidum).
Cables : Mexcel cables (BNC, XLR, AC cable).




From gramophone.co.uk http://tinyurl.com/l9sddg8

<< Brahms Symphony No 3: which recording is best?
Richard Osborne surveys the finest recordings of the Third Symphony

Tuesday, January 28, 2014
(This article originally appeared in Gramophone, April 2012)

'It is enormously rewarding - one of the world's grandest bracers. What a lift in those themes, and what tenderness beneath their power! Brahms for ever!'

So wrote WR Anderson in Gramophone in September 1935 at the end of a survey during which he had struggled to decide whether Leopold Stokowski or Willem Mengelberg had his vote in Brahms's Third Symphony. Had Clemens Krauss's superb 1930 Vienna Philharmonic HMV recording been available, WRA might have worried less. It is none the less remarkable how well this most elusive of great 19th-century symphonies was served in the early years of electronic recording.

The Third is the most personal of Brahms's four symphonies, and the shortest. It is a glorious work, yet a deeply troubled one. And there is the added peculiarity of its being, unusually for its genre and age, a symphony in which all four movements end quietly.

Brahms was 50 and at the zenith of his art when he completed it in 1883. He remained resolutely silent as to the work's inner content yet the music itself provides clues. The great summons at the opening rests on the notes F-A-F ('Frei aber froh', 'Free but happy'), a cipher Brahms had used in response to his friend Joseph Joachim's motto F-A-E ('Frei aber einsam', 'Free but lonely') in that halcyon age in Düsseldorf in the early 1850s when the young Brahms was taken under the wing of Robert and Clara Schumann. It can be no coincidence that there is a clear echo of Schumann's own Third Symphony, the Rhenish, in the passionate down-sweep of the strings in bar three of the Brahms. Were Schumann and his troubled end a cue for this great outpouring?

Brahms's use of the F-A-F cipher is itself ambiguous. The 'A' in bar two is an A flat, tipping the work instantly towards the minor key, with a sinister tritone adding to the sense of angst. And what of the later transformation of the exposition's gracious dance into a nightmare waltz, or the crisis-laden mood of much of the work's finale? Time and again during this symphony, WB Yeats's words come to mind: 'For Nature's pulled her tragic buskin on/And all the rant's a mirror of my mood.'

Too multifaceted to be known from a single interpretation, the Third Symphony can be played classically or romantically, briskly or with great breadth. Brahms himself was not prescriptive when it came to such matters. Tempo modification fascinated him to the point of obsession, but he knew that speed itself is relative. Metronome marks were anathema to him ('I have never believed that my blood and a mechanical instrument go well together'), and he mistrusted musicians who put their faith in them.

FIRST RECORDINGS

The earliest extant recording of the Third Symphony was made in 1928 by Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra. It is finely played without undue resort to saturated string tone. The principal drawback is an over-inflated account of the troubled pastorale which is the work's Andante. At a little over 10 minutes, Stokowski's performance of this movement is not quite as protracted as his 1959 Houston version, but it remains out of scale with the work as a whole. The 1932 Willem Mengelberg recording is a somewhat portentous affair. The first movement, complete with its exposition repeat, is positively Gladstonian and the two inner movements are much pulled about. Neither of these versions compares well with the 37-year-old Clemens Krauss's 1930 recording with the Vienna Philharmonic, which remains one of the truest of all accounts of the symphony on record. It is a beautifully articulated performance, strongly drawn yet rhythmically crisp, with a slow movement that is every bit as expressive as Stokowski's but better paced. Sergey Koussevitzky's 1945 Boston recording (RCA, 7/74R) has similar qualities to Krauss's, though there is a fearful solecism in bar two where Koussevitzky allows the trumpets' high pedal F to overtop the orchestra, transforming Brahms's F-A-F into a blandly tautological F-F-F.

Starting the symphony is not easy, as one of its most sure-footed contemporary interpreters, Marin Alsop, told James Jolly in a Brahms symposium in Gramophone in March 2005: 'It's quite tricky to find the right tempo that propels it without pushing it too much. This is crucial to Brahms: giving it space without making it sound slow.' She added, 'I think great orchestras can really do that. They can fill in the time.' One way of increasing the thrust of the opening is to make an unmarked crescendo in the already excoriating second bar. George Szell does this to searing effect in a live Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra performance in 1952, though not in his more generously paced 1964 Cleveland studio recording. As Alsop suggests, it takes exceptional skill successfully to drive this first movement forward and yet retain a weight and presence. Szell, who, like Furtwängler, knew the work inside out and played it in different ways on different occasions, had that ability.

CLASSIC versus ROMANTIC

Furtwängler believed that 'naturalness of utterance' is 'the difficult, the ultimate thing' in Brahms interpretation. ('Preternatural' would be the best word to describe his own Brahms.) If what we are looking for is directness and clarity of line, with the score's frequent technical difficulties unassumingly resolved at no cost to the music's power and presence, then Felix Weingartner with the LPO in 1938, Otto Klemperer with the Philharmonia Orchestra in 1957, Sir Adrian Boult with the LSO in 1970 or James Loughran with the Hallé in 1975 - all English orchestras - collectively emerge as well-nigh exemplary interpreters. A fifth such performance, by Günter Wand and the North German Radio SO (1983) based in Brahms's native Hamburg, also has that distinctive northern European pedigree.

None of these classicised readings would be of any account if they were not driven on by a powerful sustaining pulse. Dogged good sense (and the kind of short-windedness that can often accompany it) is a great subverter of this particular work, as we can hear in versions as far apart in time as Eduard van Beinum's in 1956 and David Zinman's in 2010. Nor is a tried-and-tested reading guaranteed to take flight on every occasion. Karl Böhm, Marek Janowski and Wolfgang Sawallisch all impressed with first recordings of the Third, but failed to repeat the effect on later occasions.

Wilhelm Furtwängler created his own sense of occasion. For him the Third Symphony was a work of sudden surges, delayed charges and buried detonations. 'Subjective?' asked Michael Oliver in Gramophone of Furtwängler's Brahms. 'Certainly. If one of a conductor's functions is to realise the composer's intentions, another is to convince you that those intentions matter.' Furtwängler conducted the symphony many times, yet by a happy chance his two extant Berlin-made recordings are complementary. The 1954 performance is the more serene, the 1949 - an experience unique in the annals of the work on record - the more impassioned, an essay in what Furtwängler himself called 'the energy of becoming, inexorability and the force of onward motion'. So caught up is Furtwängler in Brahms's tragic mood, he even adds to the composer's own careful revisions of the orchestration by providing minatory timpani rolls either side of the arrival of the finale's second subject. Furtwängler's is a forward-moving performance built on an epic scale, a point underlined by his decision here (though not in 1954) to take the exposition repeat.

COURAGE AND CONVICTION

The structure of the symphony's opening movement tends to be weakened if the exposition repeat is ignored. This is particularly so in performances that further undermine the structure with the kind of unwanted accelerations and decelerations favoured by Sergiu Celibidache in his live 1976 Stuttgart performance. The fact that Celibidache's 1987 Munich recording is unstable in entirely different ways suggests that he never (as Felix Weingartner put it) fully 'assimilated' the work. Not that he was alone in this. The 1952 RCA recording from Arturo Toscanini was a movement-by-movement identikit assemblage based on the old man's attempt to memorise the best features of four separate NBC radio performances. It was a curious procedure. Cloning performances, one's own or other people's, is doubly defeating in the context of a work that openly engages the question of the vulnerability of private sensibility and the value of individual vision. Yet, such was Toscanini's influence, even the self-evidently flawed 1952 RCA recording was slavishly copied, right down to the maestro's egregious subito piano in bar six. A recording by James Levine and the Chicago SO offers a particularly close paraphrase. Ironically, it was Toscanini's protégé Guido Cantelli who best grasped, or was best able to realise, what his mentor was attempting. Cantelli's 1955 Kingsway Hall recording was notable in its day. If there was more impulse to the first movement, and a clearer sifting of internal voicings, it would be a front-runner still.

A conductor who omits the exposition repeat but whose broad tempi and richly assimilated understanding of the symphony's argument convinces one of the rightness of his action is Kurt Sanderling in his 1972 recording with the Dresden Staatskapelle. This is an epic traversal of the symphony whose 72-bar exposition needs no repetition, so completely does Sanderling set out the symphony's terrain to our gaze. You might think that such an effect could be achieved only by a conductor in the full maturity of his art. This is true, though in 1970 Bernard Haitink, the then-41-year-old principal conductor of the Concertgebouw Orchestra, offered a similarly broadly based reading. It is a version that continues to impress with the certainty of its aim and the clarity and purity of its sound - a collaborative act between conductor, orchestra and the record's producer Jaap van Ginneken, the unaffected truthfulness of whose recordings remain a lesson to us all. Haitink's approach to the symphony has not greatly changed down the years but ways of preserving it have become a good deal more slipshod. His 2004 LSO Live account is not only less well played, it is much more crudely recorded.

The principal danger of such slow-drawn readings is the loss of concentration in lyric subjects and at critical points of transition. This is one of the reasons why Leonard Bernstein's interminable 1981 Vienna Philharmonic recording should be avoided at all costs. Mariss Jansons is far less self-indulgent in his broadly argued live 2010 Bavarian Radio performance, but there are pitfalls here which even he doesn't entirely avoid. On paper Carlo Maria Giulini's 1990 Vienna recording should also come into this category, but Giulini's speeds are deceptive. As Edward Seckerson has noted, 'His innate sense of architectural coherence and the sheer will of his commitment keep heart and mind engaged.' Exquisitely painted by the orchestra, this is a reading that can be set beside Sanderling's in terms of its power and long-term vision.

Fifty-minute traversals of the symphony, such as we have from Haitink, Sanderling and Giulini, occupy a very different world to the kind of 30-minute lick-and-a-promise performances served up by Bruno Walter in Vienna in 1936 and New York in 1953. How different these are from the 83-year-old Walter's broader, more rhythmically stable but not less vivid 1960 California-made recording with the hand-picked Columbia Symphony Orchestra. This is one of the great Brahms Thirds - what one imagined Walter's Brahms always was but which the early recordings gainsay. Comparison can be made here with Eugen Jochum: his 1938 Hamburg performance barely holds together; his 1956 Berlin version is much improved; his 1976 LPO recording (EMI, 10/77) is best of all.

QUESTIONS OF COLOUR

One aspect of the Third Symphony, which Walter and an almost excessively analytical CBS recording bring into focus, is the particular quality of Brahms's orchestration. This is something you will also find in Fritz Reiner's exquisitely played 1957 Chicago performance and Herbert von Karajan's 1961 account with the Vienna Philharmonic, a performance that suggests a more than passing debt by Brahms to Schumann and to the tone-painting of Wagner. Karajan's three Berlin versions are a good deal less interesting, compromised as they are by the conductor's almost studied disregard for the symphony's troubled psychopathology.

A conductor without a dispassionate bone in his body was Sir John Barbirolli. He made two recordings of the Third Symphony, the first in Manchester in 1952, the second in Vienna in 1967; both are memorable, both too little known. The absence of an exposition repeat is more of a problem with the swifter and lighter-toned Hallé performance (which gets off to a rocky start with over-prominent trumpets in bar two). Yet this is wonderful Brahms: trenchant, vital, from the heart. A slowish finale notwithstanding, the later Vienna Philharmonic recording is finer still. Trevor Harvey praised it to the skies in these columns in February 1969. Yet, like the distinguished Boult recording made in 1970, it is a version that has been more honoured in its absence than in its availability.

Barbirolli's reading was unusual for its swift yet at the same time affecting and finely pointed way with the symphony's two inner movements (a quality shared with an offering from Sir Thomas Beecham, an infrequent visitor to this particular musical shore, whose otherwise overly fierce 1957 Symphony of the Air performance can be found on YouTube). One episode is of particular importance: the sombre triplet-dominated six-note phrase on clarinet and bassoon which casts its shadow not only over the slow movement but over the finale too. Elgar described the motif's later appearance as 'the tragic outcome of a wistful theme'. Is it their exposure to Elgar's own music that makes British conductors such effective purveyors of the episode's melancholy, far-off feel?

A DECLINING MARKET

Memorable recordings of the Third Symphony became increasingly scarce in the later years of the 20th century as the old ways of conducting the music were either forgotten or proscribed. Sadly, the fresh interest period practice brought to the symphonies of Beethoven worked less well for those of Brahms. Performance historian Robert Philip wondered whether Roger Norrington knew how the Third generally went. Norrington's was, he said on Radio 3's Record Review, 'an unusually straight performance compared with the disciplined yet highly nuanced performances of Szell or Bruno Walter'. Jonathan Swain, writing in Gramophone, thought it more 'a trail-blazing performance' than 'an interpretation that had had time to mature'. Much was made of the lighter string sound and the more forward winds. But this was nothing new. Such balances are writ large in Klemperer's stoically splendid 1957 EMI recording.

Mention was also made of the reduced size of the orchestra. In the 1880s, the Vienna Philharmonic, which gave the work its premiere under Hans Richter, was heard alongside Hans von Bülow's Meiningen Orchestra. Brahms's friend the critic Eduard Hanslick thought the 45-strong Meiningen Orchestra 'comparatively weak', lacking the 'brilliance and fullness of tone' of the 90-man Philharmonic. There is evidence that Brahms, too, could be irked by Bülow's small-scale, over-literal readings, and by the mannerisms he occasionally found it necessary to introduce. How satisfied would Brahms have been, one wonders, with Nikolaus Harnoncourt's closely managed but oddly tired-sounding 1997 Berlin recording? In 2008, a further period-instrument performance appeared, directed by Sir John Eliot Gardiner. It boasted tinder-dry sonorities and set a new land-speed record for the finale.

The most accomplished Brahms Third of the new century came from Marin Alsop and the LPO in 2005, a long-drawn, dark-hued reading blessed with exquisite phrasing, keen articulation and good rhythm. Sir Simon Rattle's 2008 recording revived the old Berlin Philharmonic Brahms sound in a performance that went deeper than Karajan's but which suffered from moments of unwanted calculation. There is nothing of this in Claudio Abbado's 1989 Berlin recording. This was made in September of that year, barely two months after Karajan's death and shortly before the players elected Abbado as their chief conductor. It was clearly a meeting of some moment. The Berliners are on peerless form, an asset which Abbado, ever the thoroughbred musician, exploits to remarkable effect in a reading that marries impetus and eloquence in special measure.

Brahms's Third Symphony is difficult to capture in a single snapshot. The one performance that comes close to being all-encompassing is Furtwängler's in Berlin in 1949, though the sound is indifferent, the audience occasionally intrusive. Among currently available, single-disc versions, Claudio Abbado's is a clear first choice. This reading ranks with the best of any era, and there is a visceral quality to the playing which is de rigueur in this symphony. More classically minded Brahmsians should consider Klemperer or, if a single CD is sought, Günter Wand. The best of the rest can generally be found with a little looking. This is a symphony, highly strung and elusive to the touch, which it pays to collect.


RECOMMENDATIONS

BUDGET RICHES:

LPO / Alsop / Naxos 8 557430

Discussing Brahms's Third Symphony is one thing, conducting it is something else. Marin Alsop does both shrewdly, sensitively, perceptively. This is the latest in a distinguished line of LPO Thirds stretching back to Weingartner in 1938.

THE CLASSICIST'S VIEW:

Philharmonia / Klemperer / EMI 562742-2

Born and brought up to Brahms, Klemperer is the most dauntless of the symphony's classicising interpreters. What on LP was a rather acerbic-sounding recording emerges on CD with greater body and warmth.

THE UNMISSABLE:

BPO / Furtwängler / EMI 565513-2

The sound here is fragile and the audience intrusive, but this is a performance like no other. You may not sleep for nights after hearing it, but you'll be richer and wiser for the experience.

THE TOP CHOICE:

BPO / Abbado / DG 429 765-2GH

This is the finest of the modern versions, a performance that sits well beside classic recordings such as those by Krauss in the 1930s, Walter and Barbirolli in the 60s, and Sanderling in the 70s.


SELECTED DISCOGRAPHY

Date / Artists / Record company (review date)

1928 Philadelphia Orch / Stokowski / Biddulph WHL017/18 (8/94R)

1930 VPO / Krauss / Biddulph M WHL052 (6/99)

1932 Concertgebouw Orch / Mengelberg / Andante AN1973-9 (4/33R)

1938 LPO / Weingartner / EMI 764256-2 (9/39R)

1949 BPO / Furtwängler / EMI 565513-2 (2/96R)

1952 Hallé Orch / Barbirolli / Barbirolli Society SJB1020 (5/53R)

1952 Concertgebouw Orch / Szell / Audiophile APL101 561

1952 Philh Orch / Toscanini / Testament SBT3167 (3/00)

1954 BPO / Furtwängler / DG 423 572-2GDO (5/76R)

1955 Philh Orch / Cantelli / Testament SBT1173 (9/56R, 12/99)

1957 Philh Orch / Klemperer / EMI 562742-2 (6/58R)

1957 Chicago SO / Reiner / RCA 09026 61793-2 (12/58R)

1960 Columbia SO / Walter / Sony SMK64471 (2/61R)

1961 VPO / Karajan / Decca 478 2661DOR (9/62R)

1964 Cleveland Orch / Szell / Sony SBK47652 (8/65R, 6/96)

1967 VPO / Barbirolli / Royal ROY6434 (2/69)

1970 LSO / Boult / EMI 769203-2 (2/71R)

1970 Concertgebouw Orch / Haitink / Philips 442 068-2PB4 (3/71R, 9/94)

1972 Dresden Staatskapelle / Sanderling / RCA 74321 30367-2 (10/73R, 1/97)

1975 Hallé / Loughran / EMI 75753-2 (7/76R)

1976 LPO / Jochum / EMI SLS5093 (10/77)

1983 NDR SO / Wand / RCA 88697 71136-2 (2/87R)

1987 Munich PO / Celibidache / EMI 556846-2

1989 BPO / Abbado / DG 429 765-2GH (1/91); 435 683-2GH4

1990 VPO / Giulini / Newton 8802063 (8/91R)

1990 London Classical Plyrs / Norrington / EMI 556118-2 (8/96)

1997 BPO / Harnoncourt / Teldec 0630 13136-2 (11/97); Warner 2564 69004-9

2005 LPO / Alsop / Naxos S 8 557430 (3/07)

2008 Orch Révolutionnaire et Romantique / Gardiner / SDG SDG704 (11/09)

2008 BPO / Rattle / EMI 267254-2 (A/09)

2010 Bavarian Rad SO / Jansons / BR-Klassik 900111 (6/11) >>
Oscar
2018-12-30 07:34:40 UTC
Permalink
Post by Oscar
<< Brahms Symphony No 3: which recording is best?
Richard Osborne surveys the finest recordings of the Third Symphony
Interesting, no, that Mr. Osborne omits from his list all Brahms 3 recordings by Fluffy, about whom he wrote an excellent and thorough biography?
Oscar
2018-12-30 07:50:31 UTC
Permalink
Interesting, no, that Mr. Osborne omits from his list all Brahms 3 recordings by Fluffy...
Nevermind me. Fluffy's 1961 DG is in there, albeit as a drive-by reference to bolster Mr. Osborne's pick for Top Choice.

<< Sir Simon Rattle's 2008 recording revived the old Berlin Philharmonic Brahms sound in a performance that went deeper than Karajan's but which suffered from moments of unwanted calculation. There is nothing of this in Claudio Abbado's 1989 Berlin recording. This was made in September of that year, barely two months after Karajan's death and shortly before the players elected Abbado as their chief conductor. It was clearly a meeting of some moment. The Berliners are on peerless form, an asset which Abbado, ever the thoroughbred musician, exploits to remarkable effect in a reading that marries impetus and eloquence in special measure. >>
Herman
2018-12-30 09:44:39 UTC
Permalink
Post by Oscar
Interesting, no, that Mr. Osborne omits from his list all Brahms 3 recordings by Fluffy...
Nevermind me. Fluffy's 1961 DG is in there, albeit as a drive-by reference to bolster Mr. Osborne's pick for Top Choice.
I believe I referenced Osborne's review in my opnening post.

As always with these sweeping overviews I'm kind of puzzled by the omissions. Why mention Haitink's dismal LSO Live effort, but not his excellent Boston B3? Why not mention any of Kubelik's recordings, especially when RO has this weirdo theory that a conductor needs familiarity with Elgar to perform the gloomy six-note motiv in the Andante right. Kubelik has a great feeling for the Andante and has probably never done an Elgar symphony.
g***@gmail.com
2018-12-30 17:46:56 UTC
Permalink
Post by r***@gmail.com
-And yet, nowhere in his works do we find
-evidence of brilliant tone or
-picturesque fancy. The truth is that
-his
-thoughts did not turn towards colour;
-his mind did not exact it."
Brahms in truth wasn't the greatest orchestrator, unlike Rimsky (hugely underrated), but his works survive because his melodic gifts were supreme. Rimsky's melodic gifts were good too, but in a Russian way, aided by superb orchestral colour. Like Karajan recordings, Brahms is best heard on a portable radio sitting on the kitchen table, whilst staring thru the windows on a rain drenched day in November in another room. Often Brahms will evoke tears. IMHO.
Ray Hall, Taree
https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/rec.music.classical/wmtMSeo1utw
Herman
2018-12-30 18:01:44 UTC
Permalink
the link shows you're really a sick person.

Herman
2018-12-28 19:08:38 UTC
Permalink
Post by Ricardo Jimenez
By the way, how do you react to
http://youtu.be/OuYY1gV8jhU
It's all Bernstein's setup. Before starting his rendition of the LvB 7 2nd mvt Bernstein says "one of the most famous melodies ever written" and then demonstrates it's hardly even a melody.

But it isn't "famous" as a melody either.

Bernstein is just a fabulous BS artist in his talks, IMO.
AB
2018-12-28 19:24:06 UTC
Permalink
Post by Herman
Post by Ricardo Jimenez
By the way, how do you react to
http://youtu.be/OuYY1gV8jhU
It's all Bernstein's setup. Before starting his rendition of the LvB 7 2nd mvt Bernstein says "one of the most famous melodies ever written" and then demonstrates it's hardly even a melody.
But it isn't "famous" as a melody either.
Bernstein is just a fabulous BS artist in his talks, IMO.
agree with you about the BS..... but according to my friend who sat in the 1st violin section of the NY Phil he was a great conductor.

AB
Herman
2018-12-28 19:30:47 UTC
Permalink
Post by AB
agree with you about the BS..... but according to my friend who sat in the 1st violin section of the NY Phil he was a great conductor.
of course he was a great conductor. He got from the orchestra what he wanted at a very high level. Personally I think he's not ageing particularly well, but that's a matter of taste.

And of course his talking BS did the job too.
Frank Berger
2018-12-27 20:09:36 UTC
Permalink
Post by Ricardo Jimenez
Post by Greg
There are other factors to consider as well, of course, such as the basic sound of the orchestra itself. You may, for instance, find Gardiner or Ticciati to be too astringent sounding and prefer the warm VPO sound of Levine. Or you may love (or hate) the unique brass sound of Mravinsky’s orchestra. Etc, etc…
The end result of all this is that there aren’t many performances of this piece that really satisfy me. I haven’t compared recordings for quite some time, but if I were to do so now, I might begin with Szell, Mravinsky, Levine, Chailly, and Ticciati. (Has anyone else listened to the Ticciati? That one seems to come as close as any to my ideal of balances and pacing. If the orchestra were only a bit bigger and warmer sounding, I might have found the one…)
Greg
You seem to be very reluctant to come out and say it: "The composer is
to blame for such great music often not satisfying in performance
because he dressed it in dull rags".
I didn't hear any music in the Ticciati. Has anyone mentioned Sandering?
m***@hotmail.com
2018-12-30 07:42:08 UTC
Permalink
Brahms' Third Racket


Tatonik
2018-12-30 17:01:32 UTC
Permalink
Post by m***@hotmail.com
Brahms' Third Racket
http://youtu.be/A513YjKmpMY
Now the question is, which performance is Basil listening to?

One of my professors said he used to go to parties thrown by
musicologists where they would play a game in which you had to identify
a piece after listening to just a couple of notes. "I was never very
good at those," he said.

The note game probably wouldn't work with individual performances, but
you could extend it to a couple of bars. Some people get really good at
picking things out, whether it's the sound quality, a musical
idiosyncrasy, an errant note, or a scratch on a particular LP. On a
listening test on the final exam, the same professor played an excerpt
from Beethoven's Piano Sonata Op. 109 and said he would give us extra
credit if we could identify the pianist. I guessed Brendel, mainly
because that is what I had been listening to in the library and I
couldn't think of any other pianists in the heat of the moment. It
turned out to be Glenn Gould. He said that although he didn't care for
Gould in general, Op. 109 was one Gould got right.
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