Aug 16

Schumann: 4 Symphonien, with Karajan & Berliner Philharmoniker ?????

I had previously heard several other versions of Schumann’s 4 symphonies, including a budget edition by Semkow and the St. Louis Orchestra, and another by Leonard Bernstein and the NY Philharmonic, and wondered why there was such a fuss over them – they seemed rather drab without distinguishing characteristics necessary to make them a part of a standard orchestral repertoire. Then, I heard Karajan actually bring these symphonies alive. You’ve heard me adulate Karajan in the past and I will do so again. I realize that there is a lot of Karajan bashing going on nowdays, that he was a consummate showman, and not a musician, that he created an interpretation contrary to the composer’s intentions, etc. Most of these accusations are waged when one has nothing else bad to say about a person. Of course the conductor is putting his own interpretation in to the piece; it’s impossible for them not to, unless they create a meaningless drab piece that isn’t worth listening to. But, back to Schumann. The third and fourth symphonies are the most memorable, and Karajan, for the first time ever, had me whistling or humming through the various leitmotif’s in these works. Truly, they are the best of the best of any of the symphonic recordings of Schumann, not just in recording quality, but also in their interpretation. A must buy for any music lover.


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