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  Farao Classics -
  S 108 019
  Barber: Symphony No. 1, Schumann: Symphony No. 4 - Sawallisch
  Barber: Symphony No. 1 Op. 9, Schumann: Symphony No. 4 in D minor Op. 120

Das Bayerische Staatsorchester
Wolfgang Sawallisch (conductor)
Track listing:
  Classical - Orchestral
Recording type:
Recording info:
  Live recording: July 21, 2003 in the National Theatre in Munich.

Producers: Felix Gargerle / Andreas Caemmerer
Executive Producer and Editing: Felix Gargerle
Recording and Mixing: Andreas Caemmerer
Editorial Staff: Alexander Martin
Audio Assistant: Alessandro Binetti
SACD-Mastering: Mastering Studio München

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Related titles: 1

Reviews: 2

Review by akiralx August 24, 2005 (6 of 6 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
This 54 minute disc celebrates a concert Sawallisch gave on 21 July 2003 in Munich's National Theatre. There are only two works, one esoteric as far as Sawallisch's repertoire is normally concerned - and the other by a composer with which he is perhaps more associated than any other.

The Barber Symphony is here given a wonderful performance, the work moving forward inexorably with many moments of real orchestral beauty. This is a neo-Romantic work, with lush strings and evocative writing for wind and brass, but with no lack of drama.

Soundwise, this is impressive: there is real depth to the orchestral sound, plenty of live 'atmosphere', and a wide soundstage. I listened in multi-channel and found this very enjoyable and realistic, with discreet use of the rear channels. Other SACDs in my collection have perhaps provided even more realism, but this will not disaappoint sonically.

The sound for the Schumann Fourth is similarly good, though I have to express some reservations about the progress of the first movement which seems slightly comfortable both in tempo and texture, and lacks some incisiveness compared to other favourite performances, notably Harnoncourt's electrifying Berlin PO version, also live, on Teldec. Strangely enough, Sawallisch is only ten seconds slower at 11'22, but Harnoncourt seems to impart more impetus and drama.

However things improve dramatically in the central movements which are superbly done, the Romanze almost improvisatory in style and the Scherzo vigorous and dramatic. The 'Wagnerian transition' to the Finale is slightly undercharacterised (maybe deliberately?) and Sawallisch curiously handles the first paragraph of the Finale at a measured speed before speeding up to a sensible fast tempo.

The Fourth in his famous EMI cycle (sounding clearly better in its Great Recordings of the Century incarnation by the way) was perhaps at a slighly lower livel of insight and inspiration compared to his superlative accounts of the Spring and Rhenish Symphonies (1 and 3) which I have never heard bettered by anyone. With this performance one would be more than satisfied in the concert hall, but on record I would place this new recording slightly below the very best.

The performance rating reflects the 4.5/3.5 split I would assign to this Barber/Schumann coupling.

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Review by Dinko June 4, 2004 (4 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
It is interesting how consistent Sawallisch is. His performance on this live recording from Munich is very similar to a recent radio broadcast of Schumann's Fourth symphony by Sawallisch and the Berliner Philharmoniker, and both are similar to Sawallisch's recent Philadelphia Orchestra recordings, which themselves are relatively consistent with Sawallisch's Dresden cycle for EMI. The swift, lightweight performance with beautiful, refined, rounded playing is there in the Munich performance, as it is elsewhere. There have been a number of excellent Schumann cycles, but in my own very personal opinion, no one beats Sawallisch. He brings clarity to Schumann's orchestrations and keeps the music moving without rushing it.

Of Sawallisch's previous recordings and broadcasts, this live recording from Munich is the one I like most. Somehow Schumann fits better with the sound of the Bayerische Staatsorchester than he does with the normally plump sonorities of either the Philadelphia or Berlin orchestras.

The recorded sound of the Munich performance is in all aspects superior to the muddy, muffled, and frankly dull Philadelphia CDs advertised as the first recordings from Philadelphia's new Verizon Hall. Whether it's the hall or the engineers does not particularly matter. Believe it or not, the Staatsorchester even seems to produce a richer string sound than the Philadelphia Orchestra whose famous violins sound not only thin in volume, but sound like flutes in upper registers. The Munich brass is more prominent, with a finer tone. On this SA-CD, Munich's Nationaltheater exhibits a sense of a wide though sympathetic acoustic with perfect reverberation time.
The SACD Stereo is good enough, but sounds compressed. As if someone attempted to fit five channels of music into two. The SACD Surround program is fantastic. Lush, warm strings; present though not overbearing timpani; crisp brass; lovely woodwinds; in a perfect, natural balance between the instrumental colours which envelops the listener in a pleasant always-clear but never-harsh acoustic.

I know it's wishful thinking, but I wouldn't mind a complete Schumann cycle from these same sources.

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Works: 2  

Samuel Barber - Symphony No. 1, Op. 9
Robert Schumann - Symphony No. 4 in D minor, Op. 120