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Best Classical Works - Part Two: Best Symphonies

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Showing 1-25 of 44 posts in this discussion
In reply to an earlier post on Dec 27, 2012 2:44:02 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 27, 2012 6:17:18 PM PST
John Ruggeri says:
Larry Vandesande says:

Franck Symphony in D minor
I totally agree and I have encountered some who think Franck was not much of a composer. His music falls beautifully on my ears and heart.

I hardly breathed when I first heard this performance. Did not imagine such magic from Toscanini in this repertoire but now I am totally convinced.

(Live) - César Franck, Symphony in D minor
NBC Symphony Orchestra -- Arturo Toscanini, conductor
Recorded from NBC broadcasts --14 December 1940 & 24 March 1946
Studio 8-H, New York.

I am less than 2 minutes into the performance and I have those special Happy Aesthetic Chills.


In reply to an earlier post on Dec 27, 2012 2:31:52 PM PST
KenOC says:
"It is better heard in individual recordings from Boult and Horenstein where a sense of genius..."

A nice thought, though it pretty much limits us to Symphony #3 based on what's available now.

Posted on Dec 27, 2012 2:27:27 PM PST
Franck Symphony in D minor and St. Saens (often called the French Beethoven) "Organ", two of the great romantic French symphonies once packaged on the same CD in fine performances under Ansermet. I'd also plug Elgar's first two symhonies under Barbirolli.

Posted on Dec 27, 2012 2:22:16 PM PST
Robert Simpson? He wrote some fine symphonies but the only available complete set is ordinary and does little to get at the root of his symphonic personality It is better heard in individual recordings from Boult and Horenstein where a sense of genius pervades the recordings.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 27, 2012 12:23:06 PM PST
D. M. Ohara says:
I've always judged performances of the Pastoral by whether they leave me with a headache in the opening of the Storm movement, just like one gets when thunder is on the way. I got that with my first recording of the Pastoral, though for the life of me I cannot remember who the conductor was - not someone very famous, I suppose.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 27, 2012 10:46:32 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 27, 2012 10:47:56 AM PST
KenOC says:
Curious that nobody has compared Jochum's Beethoven EMI cycle with Walter's from the Columbia days, also available very cheaply (as a download of Sony remasters). The two cycles seem to me to have some things in common. Thoughts?

Posted on Dec 27, 2012 10:42:15 AM PST
I'll provide my latest list of top 10 favorites , 1 each per composer and some additional ones I also have been liking recently:

1. Mahler 9
2. Brahms 2
3. Dvorak 7
4. Tchaikovsky 6
5. Sibelius 5
6. Shostakovich 4
7. Beethoven 7
8. Schumann 3
9. Bruckner 6
10. Berlioz Symphonie Phantastique

Best of the rest:
Mahler: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7
Brahms: 2,3,4
Dvorak: 5,6,8,9
Tchaikovsky: 4,5
Sibelius: 1,2,4
Shostakovich: 5,8,10
Beethoven: 3,4,5,6,9
Schumann: 1,2
Bruckner: 4,5,7,8,9
Bax: 4,5,6,7
Vaughan Williams: 2,4,6,7,8,9
Penderecki: 2
Mendelssohn: 3
d'Indy: 2
Wellesz: 3
Krenek: 2
von Hausegger: Natursymphonie
Gliere: 3
Suk: Asrael

Posted on Dec 27, 2012 10:39:04 AM PST
[Deleted by the author on Dec 27, 2012 10:39:51 AM PST]

Posted on Dec 27, 2012 10:33:25 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 27, 2012 11:30:08 AM PST
D.M.--The Jochum EMI set has turned out to be one of my favorite purchases for 2012--which hasn't surprised me, since Jochum is one of my favorite conductors. Like you, I prefer him to Klemperer in Beethoven, overall. There is a ruggedness to his interpretations that I find gripping, and yes, unlike Klemperer (in places), Jochum keep things moving. I've probably been most impressed by the middle symphonies in this set (4, 5, 6 & 7)--especially the 6th, which is my favorite performance ever. Jochum brings a versimilitude to the 'storm scene' that is remarkable, with the orchestra sounding exactly like the rumblings of distant thunder. The remasterings are also much better than previous CD incarnations on the EMI & Disky labels.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 27, 2012 4:38:13 AM PST
Mandryka says:
Thanks. There are a couple of Haydn symphonies here which I'd never bothered to explore before -- 21 and 56. I'm glad you mentioned them.

Posted on Dec 26, 2012 10:08:55 PM PST
D. M. Ohara says:
I'm greatly impressed with the 20-CD Jochum set from EMI, which I am slowly working my way through. It contains all the symphonies of Beethoven, Brahms and Bruckner, various overtures, the Bach B minor mass, and the Mozart Coronation Mass and Vespers. While his Beethoven is big-boned, he keeps it on the move. Comparisons with Klemperer are perhaps inevitable - and in many cases I think Jochum has the edge. What do others think?

Posted on Dec 26, 2012 7:52:54 PM PST
A list like ME's

Piston #6
Prokofiev #6
Lutoslawski #3
Norgard #3
Schuman #3

Berwald #3
Schumann #2
Rachmaninov #2
Bernstein #2
Brahms #1

Posted on Dec 26, 2012 7:18:20 PM PST
[Deleted by Amazon on Nov 26, 2013 10:12:04 AM PST]

Posted on Dec 26, 2012 7:03:16 PM PST
HB--Thanks for the recommendations. I'll try to sample from the Jordan & Marriner recordings.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 26, 2012 6:37:38 AM PST
HB says:
HB, is it the marriner's hansler set?


Posted on Dec 25, 2012 7:42:36 PM PST
is it the marriner's hansler set?

Symphonies 1 & 3

because it was re-relased by Brilliant.

Schumann: Symphonies 1-4
actually $20 bucks does seem pricey for a two disc set.
but it is part of
The Complete Symphonies

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 25, 2012 7:20:35 PM PST
KenOC says:
John, I only said that I was hanging up the gloves, not leaving the premises. Five more hours and then...POW!

Posted on Dec 25, 2012 6:40:57 PM PST
I don't know about "best" symphonies, but here are some favorites:

Shostakovich: Symphonies 4-8, 10-11, 15
Vaughan Williams: Symphonies 3-6, 8
Villa-Lobos: Symphonies 2, 4, 6
Prokofiev: Symphonies 2, 5-7
Myaskovsky: Symphonies 20-27
Honegger: Symphonies 2, 3, 5
Martinu: Symphonies 4-6
Elgar: Symphonies 1 & 2
Sibelius: Symphonies 2, 4, 6, 7
Nielsen: Symphonies 2-5
W. Schuman: Symphonies 3, 5
Copland: Symphony No. 3, Organ Symphony
Chavez: Sinfonia Antigona, Sinfonia India
Stravinsky: Symphony of Psalms, Symphony of Wind Instruments, Symphony in Three Movements, Symphony in C
Mahler: Symphonies 5-7, 9
Milhaud: Symphony 6
Tippett: Symphonies 1-4
Szymanowski: Symphonies 3, 4
Schmidt: Symphonies 2, 4
Tchaikovsky: Symphonies 5, 6, Manfred
Borodin: Symphony No. 2
Dvorak: Symphonies 7-9
Ives: Symphony No. 4, 'Holidays' Symphony, Symphony No. 3 "Old Folks Gathering"
Pettersson: Symphonies 6-8
Bantock: Celtic Symphony, Herbridean Symphony
Casella: Sinfonia (Symphony No. 3)
Part: Symphony No. 3
Enescu: Symphony No. 1

Posted on Dec 25, 2012 6:31:59 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 25, 2012 6:34:23 PM PST
John Ruggeri says:
I type Beethoven on YT and throw -2- dice and if the number is between 1 and 9 I am guaranteed great listening. In the last 10 years Dvorak in all his works has become a special fave of mine - the 3rd Symphony IMO is his wringer.
KenOC- such determination as you have not been on THE THREAD.

ADDED- Did I ever speak too soon - just went back to THE THREAD.

Posted on Dec 25, 2012 6:13:41 PM PST
KenOC says:
No mention of Simpson in this thread?

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 25, 2012 6:11:46 PM PST
HB says:
"BTW, I fully agree with Rasmus about Sawallisch's Schumann 3rd with the Dresden Staatskapelle--they have the listener on the edge of their seats at the opening, which isn't always the case with other conductors--Haitink, for example."

M.R. Simpson,

I have the entire Sawallisch Schumann set and I agree that it is benchmark. However, when it comes to the Rhenish, I prefer Marriner's 2nd recording with the Academy of St. Martin. I also love the recording by the Suisse Romande Orchestra conducted by Armin Jordan. The difference between those two recordings and Sawallisch is the sound of the horns. It just sounds much bigger and fuller with Marriner and Jordan. In the Rhenish Symphony, the horns are the most important instrument, IMO.

BTW, the Jordan recording is a great buy, $3.99 for all four symphonies if downloaded. The Marriner has disappeared from the catalog and is only available for an outrageous Marketplace price.

Schumann : Symphonies Nos 1-4

Posted on Dec 25, 2012 3:46:26 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 26, 2012 6:57:44 PM PST
I don't listen to the standard symphonic repertoire as much I used to. Especially the symphonies of Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky, Dvorak, & even to some extent Brahms, & Schubert. I do, however, still listen to Schumann occasionally, and surprisingly, after many years, remain fascinated by Sibelius. I also still listen to Bruckner, especially the 4th, 7th, 8th, & 9th Symphonies. BTW, I fully agree with Rasmus about Sawallisch's Schumann 3rd with the Dresden Staatskapelle--they have the listener on the edge of their seats at the opening, which isn't always the case with other conductors--such as Haitink, for example. (I also still avidly listen to the orchestral works of Ravel and Debussy, but they don't count as symphonies, strictly speaking.)

Apart from these, I would argue that Beethoven & Mahler are the greatest symphonists, followed by Mozart & Haydn. Beethoven's 9th sits at the top of my list. His 7th is also thrilling in the final movement, as is his 5th for its triumphal transition between the third & fourth movements. I've also recently found a renewed appreciation for Beethoven's 6th, after reacquainting myself with Eugen Jochum's LSO recording. Jochum brings out the the 'storm' sounds within the orchestral writing with a greater versimilitude than any other conductor I've heard--& it's fascinating: Icon: The Complete EMI Recordings.

As for Mahler, I've found that his 9th has grown on me with age. Perhaps it's an older man's symphony. The final movement is one of the most remarkable in any symphony I know. The final movement of the 2nd "Resurrection" is also overwhelming, especially if heard live, but in a different way. I also listen regularly to the 3rd, 5th, & 10th Symphonies, with their beautiful Adagios.

In addition, I love Mozart's Symphonies 25, 31 "Paris", and 38 "Prague", 39, 40 and 41 "Jupiter". Mozart is another composer that gets better with age--Haydn too. The greatness of Haydn is that no matter where you delve into his 104 Symphonies, it turns out to be a rewarding experience.

As for discoveries off the beaten track, I've recently found Joseph Guy Ropartz's symphonies to be of interest--especially 2 & 3:

From the same period, I also like Ernst Chausson's Symphony as well:

Although I'm certainly not claiming these symphonies are masterpieces, or even in my top 50.

Finally, I would also mention Jean-Fery Rebel's The Elements, which was originally written as a ballet, but has aspects of a symphony. I feel this work must have influenced Haydn, presuming that he knew it--as it can at times sound like Haydn. There have been several excellent recordings over the years from Minkowski, Goebel, and Hogwood.

EDIT: Symphony cycles that I hope to spend more listening time with, as I don't know them as well as I'd like to, include those by Shostakovich, Prokofiev, Martinu, & Vaughn Williams.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 19, 2012 4:51:37 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 19, 2012 6:39:50 AM PST
Tero says:
I am just kind of barely into symphonies as a fan. Sibelius is more of an exception. The symphony had developed into such a monster of a work that a 78min CD barely covers it. My attention span is much less than a Mahler symphony. Haydn I can handle, but both Haydn and Mozart stick a lot of pomp pomp pah dah punctuation that gets repetitive.

I was working on Richard Wagner but have not made much headway. A bit too Wagnerian to me.

Bruckner is on the list.

Not sure why I got a (-) vote, I was simply responding to a post about symphonies, as a wider concept. Even with Stravinsky I listen to the smaller works and ballets.

Posted on Dec 18, 2012 3:33:50 PM PST
J. Eickhoff says:
1. Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 in D Minor "Choral" (1824)
2. Dmitri Shostakovich: Symphony No. 15 in A Major (1971)
3. Elliott Carter: A Symphony of Three Orchestras (1977)
4. Gustav Mahler: Symphony No. 9 in D Major (1910)
5. Franz Schubert: Symphony No. 9 in C Major "The Great" (1828)
6. Witold Lutosławski: Symphony No. 3 (1983)
7. Johannes Brahms: Symphony No. 4 in E Minor (1885)
8. Charles Ives: Symphony No. 4 (1916)
9. Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 5 in C Minor (1808)
10. Hector Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique (1829)
11. Igor Stravinsky: Symphony of Psalms (1930)
12. Osvaldas Balakauskas: Ostrobothnian Symphony (1989)
13. Antonín Dvorák: Symphony No. 9 in E Minor "From the New World" (1893)
14. Roberto Gerhard: Symphony No. 4 "New York" (1967)
15. Franz Schubert: Symphony No. 8 in B Minor "Unfinished" (1822)
16. Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 7 in A Major (1812)

Posted on Dec 18, 2012 7:51:37 AM PST
Skaynan says:
WH: email me at and ill "sell" you some Bruckner :-)
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Discussion in:  Classical Music forum
Participants:  23
Total posts:  44
Initial post:  Dec 16, 2012
Latest post:  Dec 27, 2012

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