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  Sony Classical -
  SS 06113
  Brahms: Symphony No. 4 - Columbia Symphony Orchestra/Walter
  Brahms: Symphony No. 4

Columbia Symphony Orchestra
Bruno Walter (conductor)
Track listing:
  Classical - Orchestral
  Single Layer
Recording type:
Recording info:
  SRGR717 in Japan.

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Related titles: 5

Reviews: 4 show all

Review by JW October 17, 2004 (7 of 7 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Glorious music, one of the better (best?) recorded Walter discs on Sony with nice soundstage, weight and good bass and sweet treble (unlike the somewhat strident Mozart and Schubert/Beethoven, though these are also nice). Listening to this disc I wonder how one can not be interested in classical music? It's music, forget the classical moniker. The sweeping melodies by beautifully rendering massed strings, the tension and mood swings - one cannot believe one is listening to a almost 50 year old recording. Yes, the 2 Living Stereo albums I reviewed here are better. You know what the difference is? It's in the headroom and the sheer weight that the LS takes the sonic performance to a different level. But this Sony is a must have as well.


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Review by drdanfee December 17, 2005 (6 of 7 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:

This performance has been a staple of the recorded Brahms repertoire, since it first appeared in vinyl. Now, having been reincarnated again and again, it has finally reached SACD disc in a new transfer that lets its special magic into your very own listening room once more, removing yet another sonic veil that you hadn't before realized was scrimmed between you and the music.

First, one must admit that the huge sonic purpose of this SACD transfer is that you can appreciate what the conductor and orchestra are doing in this symphony. Uniquely, Bruno Walter offers us an example of an almost lost art, with his flexible tempos. While other conductors slow down or speed up in exaggerated and will-o-the-wisply inspired readings; Bruno Walter tempos are inexorably wedded to the underlying harmonic structures of the symphony and its musical argument or narrative. Neither do Walter and the orchestra slight those soaring melodies, whether sung out fully on strings or on woodwinds or both.

Hearing all this again, you realize how indebted Bruno Walter must have been to the Great Forebear, Furtwangler. Who can fail to be grateful that Bruno achieved his own special autumnal glory in this most tightly organized work? It is a performance by a conductor who has loved the music over many decades, earned his heartfelt emotional chops, and managed to illuminate the high intelligence that Johannes Brahms had as a man and as a composer.

Supposedly, Arturo Toscanini once dismissed Bruno Walter's interpretive genius by saying, something like: "Oh, Walter. Well, when he hits somethings nice, he just melts." Clearly, on the evidence of this cherished recording, the charges are false or mistaken, indeed. Bruno Walter and the orchestra show us inner fire, and inner strength. Even if SACD has hardly yet begun to make hifi news with its multichannel capabilities, this stereo disc will remain a treasure, no matter how many channels the newer recorded performances get.

The surprise is not that this master tape finally made it to SACD. No, rather we must ask: where are the other three symphonies that Bruno Walter recorded, for the same label, with the same forces, in the same recorded era?

Considering the fact that the master tape has paid for itself, tenfold and more, it is absolutely shameless of Sony not to have made the other symphonies equally available. They say the slick international corporations who are the owners of these recorded archives don't ever listen to classical music any more; but just regard their holdings as property, as if all those master tapes were simply warehouses full of refrigerators, instead of almost priceless cultural and musical insight into the human condition.

Well, don't be that way. Get this SACD, returning to a day when both conductor and orchestra deeply believed that Brahms' fourth symphony meant something quite grand and quite alive, breathing the dramas and calms of all the large existential themes we demean when we classify music as "entertainment." Since these people were True Believers, hearing them again can help us understand a bit better, how and what and why they thought making music like this was a way of life and a higher calling.

Highly recommended. There are too many stars on show here to actually count.

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Review by ThreeBs September 29, 2006 (5 of 7 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
I was very disappointed with this SACD. I learned this performance from the LP, and also own the 1985 CD. While I loved the performance enough to plunk down big bucks for a third iteration, the sonics on the SACD are nearly indistinguishable from the CD, something I have not found in any other SACD reissue that I own. Either the DSD transfer was not well done, or the original recording was not up to snuff. Sony has the nerve to charge nearly double the CD price, and even omitted the Tragic Overture that they managed to include on the CD (their newer CD reissue also adds the Song of Destiny). This was an early SACD release (though I just bought it), and it demonstrates how Sony has botched this technology through sheer greed. Buy the CD instead for just about half the price.

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Works: 1  

Johannes Brahms - Symphony No. 4 in E minor, Op. 98