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Great Conductors of the 20th Century

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Audio CD, November 4, 2003
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (November 4, 2003)
  • SPARS Code: ADD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: EMI Classics
  • ASIN: B0000AKPIC
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #448,005 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Disc: 1
1. Coriolan Overture, Op.62
2. I Allegro Vivace E Con Brio
3. II Allegretto Scherzando
4. III Tempo Di Menuetto
5. IV Allegro Vivace
6. The Firebird And It's Dance
7. Variation Of The Firebird
8. The Princesses' Round
9. Danse Infernale Du Roi Kostchei
10. Lullaby
See all 15 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. Donna Diana: Overture
2. I Adagio - Allegro
3. II Allegretto
4. III Menuet. Moderato - Trio
5. IV Finale. Presto
6. I Un Poco Sostenuto - Allegro
7. II Andante Sostenuto
8. III Un Poco Allegretto E Grazioso
9. IV Adagio - Piu Andante - Allegro Non Troppo, Ma Con Brio

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Louis Lee on January 12, 2004
Format: Audio CD
Hermann Scherchen was probably the most celebrated advocate of modern music of the 20th century - from his early days playing Mahler in Berlin to building his modern music lab in Gravesano in the last years of his life. He premiered many important "modern" pieces, including those by Berg and Schoenberg. It is therefore extremely shocking that this tribute
contains mostly "main stream" repertoire, with the Schoenberg piece "Suite in the old style"!
That said, don't take away the merits of this wonderful set. As a "classical music" conductor Scherchen is always full of insight and always controversial: extreme tempi, incredible rubati, and so on. So much to the extent that Schoenberg once said with him there's never a dull moment - he's always interesting even when he puts things horribly wrong! His Mahler 9th on Orfeo d'Or no doubt falls neatly into that category, but this set certainly represents Scherchen at his best. The celebrated Beethoven 8th is now in its third reincarnation (the first one being an MCA double-decker and the second a single budget MCA-disc paired with a crazily speedy yet effective 6th), and the remastering has much to commend. The Firebird Suite is simply stunning: Scherchen's touch on its rhythm shines like no other. I suspect why the set includes the Haydn symphony is that Scherchen used to make tonnes of Haydn recordings for Westminster, and was fairly representative of his recording work during that era (1950s). The Brahms one was the real surprise package, though: absolutely thrilling with pulsating tempi. Highly recommended.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Michael Brad Richman HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on November 13, 2003
Format: Audio CD
It's sad that the "Great Conductors of the 20th Century" reissue series has not gotten more attention, because it has my vote for the best reissue program thus far of the 21st Century. Drawing from the archives of all the major classical labels (EMI, Sony, BMG, DG, Decca, Philips, Supraphon, etc.), EMI and IMG Artists have assembled a wonderful series of affordable two-disc sets by the leading conductors of the last century. And unlike its counterpart, "The Great Pianists of the 20th Century," which are basically compilations of material already available on other CDs, the "Great Conductors" features rare and, for the most part, previously unreleased performances! And as if that wasn't enough, the most recent volumes (beginning with no. 25) are now available at mid-line instead of full-price!
This particular CD, Volume 32, features the great Hermann Scherchen, and as the track information is non-existent above, allow me to tell what is contained in this fine collection. This 2CD set begins with works by Beethoven -- the Coriolan Overture (Vienna State Opera Orchestra, 1954) and the 8th Symphony (Royal Philharmonic, 1954). This account of the 8th, made available on CD more than a decade ago in the original MCA "Double Decker" series but long out of print, created quite a stir when it was first released nearly fifty years ago. Scherchen was one of the first conductors to strictly follow Beethoven's metronome markings, and as a result the Symphony is at a much brisker tempo than the typical account. It provides a wonderful, striking contrast to other famous versions of the 8th!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Santa Fe Listener HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on December 28, 2005
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The problem with Hermann Scherchen is also the great thing about him: his unpredictability and crazily reckless decisions. We hear this in practically every note of these two CDs in the Great Conductors series. Balances can be wildly off, tempos helter-skelter, ensemble thrown out the window (and the compilers by no means picked the worst of Scherchen's many recordings for Westminster, which can be so ragged as to be unlistenable). But Scherchen was much more than a lovable maniac; he is never less than gripping.

CD 1 begins with a slapdash, exciting Coriolan Overture (good mono, 1954) with the Vienna State Opera Orch. Technically this orchestra is supposed to be some version of the Vienna Philharmonic, but during the early Fifties at least they sounded like a ragtag pickup band. Ensemble and sound improve markedly with the Beethoven Eighth (mono, 1954) which curiously took 13 days to record with the Royal Phil., Beehcam's orchestra. Tempos are fast and alert, and there is no time for digging deep. Scherchen makes this symphony into an exciting race that you either join or walk away from. There's not much middle ground. (The piece lends itself well to his approach, something I can't say for his equally breakneck Eroica.)

At these speeds we have room for a lot more. A Firebird Suite (mono, 1954) comes from the same sessions as the Beethoven, oddly enough. It's full of the same racing excitement. Schonberg's Suite for String Orch. is a bizarrely conventional tonal work, but being mature Schonberg it's full of modernist touches that Scherchen expertly highlights for us in a live performance with the Berlin Radio Sym.--this is one of the best things in the set (stereo, 1959).
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