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Schumann: The Symphonies (2008)

Wiener Philharmoniker , Humphrey Burton  |  NR |  DVD
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Schumann: The Symphonies + Brahms: Symphonies + Sibelius: Symphonies Nos. 1, 2, 5 & 7 - featuring Leonard Bernstein and the Vienna Philharmonic
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Product Details

  • Actors: Wiener Philharmoniker
  • Directors: Humphrey Burton
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Classical, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Unknown
  • Dubbed: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Deutsche Grammophon
  • DVD Release Date: November 25, 2008
  • Run Time: 158 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001F4Z6DQ
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #281,352 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

To celebrate Leonard Bernstein's 90th birthday, Deutsche Grammophon has issued a number of musically and historically important performances on DVD. These DVDs document the astonishing talent and virtuosity of Bernstein in a variety of works. The concerts are taken from the 1970s and 1980s and many include Bernstein's educational introductions to the pieces. His invaluable ability to communicate music and teach the general public still astounds as much as his energy and skill on the podium

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Schumann April 1, 2009
By Muslit
Verified Purchase
The Schumann symphonies were always a passion of Bernstein's, and here they are, the famous set on VHS from the 80's with the Vienna Philharmonic now on DVD, with that enthusiasm intact. I'll say right off that the visual quality of the DVDs is not always the cleanest, and the image is not enhanced for wide-screen televisions. But the sound is very good, and the music and performances make up for any lapses in visuals. As a violinist, I would always cringe at the thought of performing a Schumann symphony. All of those repeated notes, all of those fortes, all of those mediocre conductors. But when I played the Third with Bernstein, I could only think of how great this music was. I am reminded of that experience with this set.

Always a stickler for the original orchestrations, Bernstein still doubles the woodwinds (four flutes, oboes, clarinets, bassoons) in the tuttis for better balances, tones down the fortes in the brass, and adjusts dynamics in general, while keeping Schumann's original instrumentation intact. The nuances within a given tempo completely enliven the musical discourse and involvement of the musicians. To be sure, these are extremely personal interpretations, and some might be put off by Bernstein's romantic inflexions with Schumann's symphonic offering of 'respectability'. I am not one of those.

My favorites of the set are the Fourth, Third, First, and Second symphonies, in that order. The Fourth is spectacular. It's cyclical structure is perfectly realized here, without the slightest sense of contrivance.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A tribute to Schumann and Bernstein January 8, 2011
Leonard Bernstein's Schumann symphonies were recorded live in a series of concerts in 1984/85 and originally released on CD and laser disc. DG has cleaned up the video nicely for DVD, and the audio is among the best I have heard on the conductor's later video productions. The (at the time all-male) Wiener Philharmoniker, always a capricious band, are in top form and visibly and joyfully give their very best: ensemble is near-perfect and solo work often outstanding. These are impassioned interpretations which go to the very core of each symphony. Bernstein stresses the "romantic" and the "dramatic" essence of the scores rather than their structural cohesion, but he never loses sight of recurring motifs and even of the intertextuality between symphonies. In his mid-sixties here, he displays enormous elan in his gestures (at times he even appears to become airborne), but with all his flamboyant style it is also obvious that he believes in every note Schumann wrote--and he did write some awkward notes. Humphrey Burton knows the scores very well and spotlights orchestral soloists and groups. These are performances to treasure and to behold: a tribute to Schumann as well as an important facet in Bernstein's invaluable legacy as a cultural giant. Get them while you can!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars superb Schumann symphonies from Bernstein November 4, 2010
This set is a joy from beginning to end. Bernstein and the Vienna Philharmonic perfectly and consistently capture the essence and spirit of Schumann's symphonies. While these works are not that easy to bring off successfully, on this DVD the performances develop naturally and with seeming ease. Bernstein's interpretations are uneccentric and everyone seems to be having a good time. Fortunately the video quality, considering its vintage, is quite acceptable and the sound is good. Warmly recommended.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Bernstein's Affinity for Schumann is Exceptional May 26, 2014
By RJAdams
Verified Purchase
Lennie seems to love this music, but not to death, as is sometimes the case with his Mahler. Schumann has so many inspired moments in these works and Bernstein never fails to appreciate them. That said, the genius of Schumann is not monumental in the way of Beethoven or fluent in the way of Mendelssohn, and Bernstein thankfully never tries to impose the personalities of his predecessors' symphonies in these performances. Yes, he does impose some of his own charisma on Schumann, but I like it, although the slow movement of the 2nd symphony seems to bog down.

While there are equally good sets of the Schumann canon around on CD (Szell, Skrowaczewski, Gardiner, Zinman, Goodman) these videos have the added value of watching an American original.
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