This album is included in the following sets:
This set contains the following albums:
- Producer's Note
- Full Track Listing
- Cover Art
Bruno Walter's 1951 Brahms Cycle with the NY Philharmonic - and more!
"These concerts apparently find Mr. Walter at the very zenith of his powers, absorbed in a task which is especially dear to him" - NY Times
This series is based around what survives of Bruno Walter's fabulous 1951 series of Brahms concerts with the New York Philharmonic, together with other live performances which either fill gaps in the 1951 recordings or, in the case of the German Requiem (Vol. 3), add to the 1951 programme. A number of major recordings, including two of the symphonies, have never been issued before; in other cases we have gained access to sonically superior sources to those used in previous releases.
There is some variation in sound quality across the recordings, some of which have required extensive repair and restoration. What shines throughout is the fabulous musicality of these truly historic concert accounts of Brahms' music, as given by Walter and the New York Philharmonic.
One of the highlights of this first of three 2-CD volumes is a previously-unissued recording of the First Symphony. This was original played alongside the Tragic Overture and the Violin Concerto, neither of which has apparently survived in usable recorded form (a correspondent reports "a horrible transfer to a defective private LP" of the Violin Concerto with Francescatti); here we've replaced the Overture with a later New York performance, a later disc will include a 1953 NY recording of the Violin Concerto. The Song of Destiny which completes the first disc was not performed at the New York concerts - the present recording is taken from a 1947 Hollywood Bowl concert, conducted in the open air by Walter to the (occasional) gentle accompaniment of crickets chirruping in the background.
The second disc here offers the third concert programme in full. Of the recordings it is the Double Concerto which is perhaps of greatest interest to collectors - previous outings on various dubious Italian labels have offered badly muffled, congested and inferior sound. By comparison it is clean and clear here, as are the other two recordings. I had to deal with occasional peak distortion in the first movement of the Second Symphony where it was originally recorded at levels which overloaded during the loudest sections, something I've endeavoured to bring under control here.
Volume Two in this series will complete the symphonies, accompanied by two concertos, whilst the final volume will include a previously unissued recording of the Piano Concerto No. 1 from the 1951 New York series, together with a later performance of A German Requiem and other works.Andrew Rose
Bruno Walter's 1951 Brahms Cycle with the NY Philharmonic continues
Rare and previously unissued live Brahms recordings from Carnegie Hall
Preparing this release has required some major technical innovation, both in the Symphony No. 3, previously unissued, and the Violin Concerto. As outlined in the quoted review in our CD liner notes of a previous issue of the latter, things went wrong during the first movement, culminating in a momentary silence from the soloist - the result of a broken string. Morini quickly borrowed the violin offered by the orchestra's leader, John Corigliano and carried on playing while he replaced her broken string.That gap here is filled by the seamless mixing in of Morini's 1956 studio recording for Westminster at around 11 minutes to patch the gap whilst instruments were exchanged.
More challenging was the Symphony No. 3, where two source recordings were used for several sections of the recording. One was damaged in upper frequencies, the other in the lower frequencies. Following digital pitch and tempo stabilisation and synchronisation I was able to digitally copy and paste good upper frequencies over good lower frequencies to produce a perfectly matched and utterly convincing new whole, a technique I believe may never have been successfully attempted before, and which restores what would otherwise have been unusable sources to their full glory.
This final entry in the Walter conducts Brahms series features only one recording from the 1951 series around which it has been constructed, the previously unissued and stunning performance with Clifford Curzon of the Piano Concerto No. 1. The surviving source for this recording has suffered some mild deterioration over the last 66 years that can at times be heard, but never to the extent that it distracts from the performance - in this we have I hope largely achieved the wish of the New York Times correspondent who wished it "might have been transfixed and preserved immaculate for the generations" - if not quite immaculate, then pretty close to it. It's certainly a major addition to the Walter discography.
For the rest of this release I've had to sift through the archives - not all of Walter's 1951 performances survive, and there we no performances of either the German Requiem or the Alto Rhapsody in the series. The latter, from a 1941 Carnegie Hall performance appears here for the first time, whilst I decided on the Italian performance of the German Requiem for both better sound quality and an unusually slower tempo from Walter than the other performances captured at this time. In both cases I've done what I can with the archive material available to me - the age of the Alto Rhapsody is reflected in a limited frequency range, whilst there is some top end hash heard during some of the louder passages of the Requiem.
other two recordings here come from the same Hollywood Bowl performance
that appears on Volume 1 of this series, and yes, once again the
crickets make an appearance towards the end of the Haydn Variations!
BRAHMS Schicksalslied (Song of Destiny), Op. 54
Hugo Strelitzer Choir, Hollywood Bowl Orchestra
BRAHMS Tragic Overture, Op. 81
BRAHMS Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 68
BRAHMS Hungarian Dance No. 17 in F-sharp minor
BRAHMS Double Concerto for violin and cello in A minor, Op. 102
John Corigliano, violin
Leonard Rose, cello
BRAHMS Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 73
Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra of New York
Bruno Walter, conductor
*Schicksalslied: 7 October 1947
Tragic Overture: 19 December 1954
Symphony No. 1: 21 January 1951
Hungarian Dance: 4 February 1951
Double Concerto: 4 February 1951
Symphony No. 2: 28 January 1951
except *Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles
BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat major, Op. 83