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Reiner, Leibowitz: Brahms – Symphony no.4, Beethoven – Egmont Overture (FLAC)

Reiner, Leibowitz: Brahms - Symphony no.4, Beethoven - Egmont Overture (FLAC)
Reiner, Leibowitz: Brahms - Symphony no.4, Beethoven - Egmont Overture (FLAC)

Composer: Ludwig van Beethoven, Johannes Brahms
Performer: Ambrosian Opera Chorus
Orchestra: Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Conductor: Fritz Reiner, René Leibowitz
Audio CD
Number of Discs: 1
Format: FLAC (image+cue)
Label: Chesky Records
Size: 229 MB
Recovery: +3%
Scan: yes

01. Beethoven – Egmont Overture

02. Brahms – Symphony no.4 in E Minor: Allegro non troppo
03. Brahms – Symphony no.4 in E Minor: Andante moderato
04. Brahms – Symphony no.4 in E Minor: Allegro giocoso
05. Brahms – Symphony no.4 in E Minor: Allegro energico e passionato

Reiner’s Brahms 4 with the RPO

This recording is Brahms 4 is now rather expensive to acquire because appreciation of Reiner’s conducting in the Viennese classics has increased markedly in recent years. It is now generally recognized how stupid it was of RCA to allow Fritz Reiner to record with his Chicago orchestra only Brahms 3 and to award the other three Brahms symphonies to Charles Munch and his Boston orchestra. It is not that Munch is a bad conductor in German music – he was after all from Alsace and even served in the German Army in World War I when Alsace and Lorraine were part of Germany and had been since 1870. It is just that, of the two influences, Munch eventually became more French than German and his Brahms was merely satisfactory whereas Reiner’s was sensational. By contrast, Munch was sensational in his recording of Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique! This Brahms 4 with the RPO and made for Readers Digest was therefore a late opportunity for Reiner to finally set down his version of what many consider to be Brahms’s finest symphony with its final variation movement the finest individual movement in these famous works. The Readers Digest recording programme was actually a highly professional undertaking featuring artists and engineers of the highest standard. So far as Reiner is concerned, he was contracted for two works but in practice recorded only this Brahms 4 because he was a sick man suffering from heart disease and this recording was all he could manage before returning to America. But what a fine recording it is – a powerful performance typical of Reiner at his best and betraying no hint of his struggle to complete at least this part of his Readers Digest contract. If the final movement does not quite have the fury of Furtwaengler in London in 1948 – there is a famous film clip of that – it is delivered with a very purposeful tread which makes its point. This Cesky reissue version of the symphony is coupled with the Leibowitz version of Beethoven’s Egmont overture and is now generally the edition of choice for Reiner in the Brahms Symphony. But it is for the reasons explained no longer cheap.

Classic! Get it Before It’s Too Late

I’ve always been really surprised by some of the unwise things which RCA did, such as never recording Reiner in the complete Brahms Symphonies, Overtures, Haydn Variations, and Serenades. We have great recordings of Reiner with the Chicago Sym, in both Piano Concertos (No. 1 with Rubinstein, No.2 with Cliburn) and in the Violin Concerto with Heifitz, but all RCA left us of any of the Symphonies during Reiner’s Chicago years was the Third (with the Tragic Overture), which symphony is available with the Schubert 5th on RCA. This recording of the 4th with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (Beecham’s orchestra) was done by RCA in London and released on a boxed set put out by Reader’s Digest. It was later liberated from the set and was available on RCA in the late 60s. It is one of Reiner’s last recordings, and is one of his best. He thought it was his best recording. Funny how many Hungarian conductors excelled in Brahms, and Reiner was one of those. This is a performance which sounds as if it was done in one take, with white-hot inspiration all the way through to the last tragic, magnificent measues, wonderfully well played by Beecham’s hand-picked musicians and well recorded. This is one of the great Brahms 4ths, along with those by Klemperer (EMI) and Carlos Kleiber (DG). Get your copy while they last.

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