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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    



Johannes BRAHMS (1833 - 1897)
Symphony No. 3 in F, Op 90 (1883) (32.18)
New York Philharmonic Orchestra
Recorded live from NewYork, New York, USA, 20 April 1952
Alexander BORODIN (1833 - 1887)
Symphony No. 2 in b "Bogatyr" (1876) (26.58)
Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra
Recorded at Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, 7 December 1941
Dimitri Mitropoulos, conductor
Notes in Italian, French, and English
URANIA URN 22. 219 [59.20]



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The liner note avows that these monophonic recordings have been restored using the "USD24" process, about which nothing more is said. There is no hiss, crackle, or deep bass, and the sound is clear and quite listenable (Track 4), even enjoyable, if tending to stridency. The Brahms is from a tape recording (presumably a home recording of a broadcast) which has stretched some, resulting in occasional slight pitch instability and a few dropouts (which should have been corrected, this being quite easy to do with any restoration software). Being a live recording it contains coughs, and an unexplained banging sound at one point (Track 2). The Borodin sounds almost too good to be 1941, but Columbia was doing some good work then.

The musical performances are excellent, lovingly sculpted with much attention to details of phrasing and frequent adjustments of tempo, in the manner of Stokowski, but the masculine pulse of the music remains very strong, and there is a less mystical and more sensual personality in evidence. This is, in a phrase, the best performance of the Borodin I’ve ever heard (track 8). The Brahms is at times excellent, but perhaps the exigencies of a live performance meant that concentration would occasionally be lost. The first movement is the least extraordinary, the second movement the most successful, the last two extremely good.

It used to be that one valued the musical judgement of a conductor in determining which of the repeats indicated in the score should be observed and which not. These days if a conductor leaves out a repeat it is considered a matter of consumer fraud. The conductor can expect to be arrested by the Bureau of Weights and Measures and hauled into court next to the butcher with his thumb on the scale and the seller of short-filled cracker boxes. Leopold Stokowski, Fritz Reiner, Dimitri Mitropoulos and I all feel that the first movement exposition repeat in the Brahms Third Symphony should not be observed. You want to disagree with that, let’s see who you’ve got in your corner!

Paul Shoemaker



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