Composer: Antonín Dvořák, Johannes Brahms
Orchestra: Hamburg Radio Symphony Orchestra
Conductor: Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt
Format: FLAC (tracks)
Size: 479 MB
Dvořák: Symphony No. 7 in D minor, Op. 70, B. 141
01. 1. Allegro maestoso
02. 2. Poco adagio
03. 3. Scherzo. Vivace
04. 4. Finale. Allegro
Dvořák: 8 Slavonic Dances, Op. 46, B. 83
05. No. 1 in C Major: Presto
06. No. 2 in E Minor: Allegretto scherzando
07. No. 3 in A-Flat Major: Poco allegro
Dvořák: 8 Slavonic Dances, Op. 72, B. 147
08. No. 8 in A-Flat Major: Lento grazioso, ma non troppo, quasi tempo di valse
Brahms: 21 Hungarian Dances, WoO 1
09. No. 1 in G Minor: Allegro molto (Orch. Brahms)
10. No. 2 in D Minor: Allegro non assai (Orch. Hallén)
11. No. 3 in F Major: Allegretto (Orch. Brahms)
12. No. 5 in G Minor: Allegro (Orch. Parlow)
13. No. 6 in D Major: Vivace (Orch. Parlow)
14. No. 7 in F Major: Allegretto (Orch. Hallén)
15. No. 10 in F Major: Presto (Orch. Brahms)
Dvořák: Serenade for Strings in E Major, Op. 22, B.52
16. 1. Moderato
17. 2. Tempo di valse
18. 3. Scherzo. Vivace
19. 4. Larghetto
20. 5. Finale. Allegro vivace
Dvořák: Serenade in D Minor, Op. 44, B.77
21. 1. Moderato, quasi marcia
22. 2. Minuetto. Tempo di minuetto
23. 3. Andante con moto
24. 4. Finale. Allegro molto
Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt’s recording of Brahms’s 21 Hungarian Dances in the composer’s home town on 5 and 8 September 1962 has long been a touchstone, alongside those of Antal Doráti (Mercury) and Claudio Abbado (Deutsche Grammophon).
The recordings presented here date in part from the early 1950s when the German conductor began his relationship with the British label Decca, which would culminate a few years later in the Beethovenian recordings made with the Wiener Philharmoniker. It was between 23 and 25 March 1953 that Schmidt-Isserstedt recorded, here, the Symphony No. 7, Dvořák’s four Slavonic Dances, as well as Brahms’ seven Hungarian Dances.
For the record, these recordings were made under the artistic direction of John Culshaw, one of Decca’s most famous artistic directors, assisted by Erik Smith, a young man who was later to replace him and who was none other than Schmidt-Isserstedt’s own son: taken as a small boy in 1936 by his Jewish mother to flee Nazism, the boy was brought up in London, where he spent the rest of his life, anglicising his surname
Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt was one of the great German conductors. A pupil of Franz Schreker, he founded the NDR Orchestra in Hamburg after the war, making it one of the best in the country. He was a prominent performer of German romantic music, but also of the works of the composers of his own time. Discophiles will mainly remember his complete Beethoven piano concertos, in which he entered into a very subtle dialogue with the piano of Wilhelm Backhaus.
This pairing offers a perspective on Dvořák and Brahms, who were known to admire each other. In a somewhat dry acoustic, here is a superb version of the Seventh Symphony from the great Czech whose interpretation, free of all romanticism, commands admiration as it immerses us in the Czech soul. It is regrettable that only excerpts of Dvořák’s Slavonic Dances and Brahms’s Hungarian Dances are presented here: but at the time complete works were few and far between.
On the other hand, let us applaud the coming together of Dvořák’s two Serenades, in particular the one for wind instruments in D minor, one of the composer’s masterpieces. Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt gives a frank and good-humoured rendering, with that popular atmosphere shrouded in the melancholy that is inseparable from Prague, one of the most beautiful and magical cities in Europe. The recording of these two Serenades was made at the Musikhalle in Hamburg for Deutsche Grammophon between 18 and 22 December 1963.