Monday, March 1, 2010
Ormandy, Minneapolis Symphony, Schumann Symphony No. 4
First, let me say that I think this is a brilliantly successful performance. I love Schumann's symphonies, but since I find most essays of them unsuccessful, I bought this 78rpm set recently more from curiosity than a real expectation of being swept off my feet. I was though. This is a very fine performance, from 1934 -- nicely nuanced and spritely, though in no way lacking necessary heft. Although overall Ormandy has a lighter touch in this work than do Dohnanyi, Paray, or Bernstein (NY) -- who lead other performances that I think succeed nicely in Schumann's symphonies -- I rank this performance among the finest I have heard.
It is always curious to hear Ormandy conduct orchestras other than the Philadelphia Orchestra. The sound here with the Minneapolis is leaner than his later orchestra and probably a better fit for the Schumann, although the maestro was quite capable of making the Philadelphians leaner and meaner when he wanted, their famed sound being much more versatile than the legendary "gorgeous strings" appellation suggests. Still, it would be nice to be able to compare this with a later performance of Ormany, which I cannot seem to find. The Sawallisch recording with Philadelphia seems less than compelling to me.
To fill out a CD the first and wonderful (mono) recording of the Schumann First Symphony by Munch and the Boston Symphony is a very nice fit. That performance is available here at Buster's Big 10-Inch Record. Since that is how I made my own CD, putting the first symphony first, the tracks contained in the links below are numbered 05 through 08.
Link to all files