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I'm sorry I mentioned it. We're gonna get 25 pages of arguing about that now. Any chance of a return to discussing Szell anytime soon rather than the usual Furty thread hijacking ? Personally I'd put Szell's mechanical, surgical, soulless, shallow Dvorak symphonies 7-9 above nearly anyone's.

Initially, part of the problem I had with some of Szell's recordings was the sound. He was allegedly notorious for interfering in the mixing of albums (constant dissatisfaction with the sound) and didn't have a good ear for stereo listening. A reporter called round to his house once and Szell was complaining about the sound of his stereo broadcasts. The reporter pointed out that part of the problem could be that Mrs S. had placed the speakers behind the settee because they looked ugly. He hadn't even noticed. For a man that often complained about the acoustics at Severance Hall he had little understanding of what would sound good on disc. Thus his VPO Beethoven 5th from Salzburg sounds way better than his studio recording as he had no hand in what it sounded like. Fortunately much of his tinkering has been fixed with subsequent remasterings. I used to have his Beethoven cycle on LPs and it sounded horrid. With the advent of SBM remastering these recordings sounded much better.
 

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I was reading some stuff about Szell a few months back and Eschenbach was actually singing his praises. The elderly Szell took him under his wing and Eschenbach painted a very different picture of him to others.
"I was never frightened of him or intimidated by him. He could be intimidating to others but to me he was warmer. Music was everything to him. As teacher, as conductor, he was supremely articulate. Clarity, transparency, diction, crisp articulation - these were his musical priorities. He was a great delineator of scores. He would say, 'Why is a note written if it's not heard?' For him every note was to be heard. We had wonderful sessions together.... We had endless conversations and two-piano sessions. He was a brilliant pianist, even at his age. I studied all the Beethoven concertos with him. It was an unbelievable experience."
And...
". .. He always gave me his time. He worked through my entire piano repertoire with me at two pianos. This went on for two years, in various locations. He always played the orchestra parts - from memory, by the way, and brilliantly! At least twelve Mozart concertos I performed for him, all five Beethoven, Schumann, the two Brahms, and the second of Bartók..... Szell was a sculptor, a renderer, a formulator of phrases, and with the word formulator I already imply: a master of musical diction. What Harnoncourt formulated very aptly in his book, Music as Speech, I'd already heard ten years earlier from Szell."
Interesting perspectives. He and Karajan got on fabulously too yet you wouldn't have thought they would. When an interviewer said to Karajan that Klemperer once said Szell was" a machine but a very good machine", Karajan firmly retorted,

"No, you cannot really say that. He was a man with a full heart. When you had a chance to meet him in his house with all his guests, he was a most charming and intelligent man. No, I can't understand that remark."
 

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Oof. I can't disagree that Victor Borge had access to the deepest and greatest and truest essential musical truths.
Victor Borge was a mere mechanical time-beater (* slaps Knorf around the face). James Last, on the other hand, put himself in the shoes of the composer speaking to the audience. Borge reads off in strict dictation like a stenographer. ;)

No, it is Merl's...i find it quite fitting...
Maybe I can't be seen. :rolleyes:
 

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We can all agree, I'm sure, that Florence Foster Jenkins plumbed the depths of all music she performed....her rendition of "Queen of the Night" aria revealed the profound philosophical truth of Mozart's creation!! lol!!
I dunno, have you ever heard Shura Gehrman's Schubert Lieder? Sounds like someone's trapped his fingers in a door. Lol. I don't do lieder anyway but that is painful. I have it on that Brilliant Classics Schubert box. I once used it to clear the house after a party. Worked a treat.
 

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Szell demanded a lot from his players but they often delivered. Tbh, he's got a pretty high strike-rate for me. I even like his Schumann cycle even though he made some cuts and alterations to 'improve' its clarity (did he really need to?). I liked his forthright approach especially in Brahms.
 

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Returning to Szell (again! ) I played his Tchaikovsky 4 this afternoon. Its been a recommended performance of mine for what seems like centuries (I had it on LP) but it's never been my favourite 4th. However, It still has marvellous energy and I love the detail and clean lines of the finale, even if the constricted sound quality hasn't worn so well. Few conductors could get the LSO to play with such skill, precision, fire and unity though.

Liquid Publication Art Font Wood
 

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When was this Szell/LSO Tchaik 4 recorded??
You know, Heck, I never did know when the Szell Tchaikovsly 4 was recorded so I looked it up. Apparently it was recorded on the 11th & 13th September 1962 at Walthamstow Assembly Hall, London. I always thought it was just before he died in '70 but apparently its much earlier than that (it does sound more early 60s than late 60s tbh). Apparently the LSO liked playing for Szell a lot. There are quite a few references to his guest conductor performances in London. If I recall it's even mentioned in the Karajan books (Karajan had a lot of time for Szell, found him a "deeply honourable man" and wouldn't hear a bad word about him). If you haven't heard that Tchaikovsky you, Heck, you should. It's a fine performance. Right up your street.
 

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I've just listened to Szell's cold, mechanical, stiff, clinical, robotic, simplistic, two-dimensional (add other negatives here) recording of Sibelius 2 with the Concertgebouw. It was good to recall how brilliantly Szell gets the perfect forward momentum (oh, I mean how relentlessly driven, flat, rushed, excessive, cool and detached he is). Next up will be his harsh, uncompromising, micromanaged, emotionless, automated, impersonal, cursory, persistent, steely, dogged, remote, unfeeling, icy, stoic, stoney, heartless, hollow and phlegmatic Eroica. Then I'm off to beat a bag of kittens with a baseball bat. :devil:
 
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