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I would like to return to George Szell and also touch upon the issue of homogeneity of orchestra. I am going to make two statements. Your opinions please.

Obvious some like Szell,some do not. The statement is;Most of the Szell recordings are between the late 1950’ s until his death in 1970. Many(a large major) have control to be regarded as contenders to be amongst what is known as “reference recordings.”
Would you agree to disagree to that statement?

The Cleveland Orchestra still is influenced by Szell. 50 years after his death. Three music directors;Lorin Maazel,Christopher Von Dohnanyi,Franz Welser Most. Your thoughts please
 

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Thank you to those who gave their thoughts to my last post about Szell. I asked two questions and the responses seemed to be more geared towards the second question. I would like to repost my first question and await any opinions from the TC community.

Obviously,some like Szell,some do not. My statement is;Most of the Szell recordings are between the late 1950’’s until his death in 1970. Many(a large majority) have come to be regarded as contenders to be amongst what is know as “reference recordings. “

Thank you
 

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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:
Interesting comment.
 

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"What's most striking is Furtwangler's willingness to sacrifice precision for the sake of passion." - New Yorker


Considering your contention that Szell is comparable to Furtwangler in the attention he garners today, I decided to compare their complete box sets on Amazon and the number of reviews each has received.

Furtwangler:

The Legacy - 107
Complete Recordings On Deutsche Grammophon and Decca - 93
Complete RIAS Recordings - 40
The Legend - Studio Recordings - 36
The Great EMI Recordings - 31

Szell:

The Complete Columbia Album Collection - 61
The Warner Recordings - 50
Decca & Philips Recordings - 11

It seems perhaps that George does not "Szell" as well as Furtwangler. Kind of surprising when you consider that he recorded much more repertoire and with infinitely better sound quality.

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You did not count all the individual CDs that were released since Compact Disc was introduced. So I feel your analysis is somewhat flawed. I will not count the individual CDs released between Furtwangler and Szell.
 

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Thank you to those who gave their thoughts to my last post about Szell. I asked two questions and the responses seemed to be more geared towards the second question. I would like to repost my first question and await any opinions from the TC community.

Obviously,some like Szell,some do not. My statement is;Most of the Szell recordings are between the late 1950''s until his death in 1970. Many(a large majority) have come to be regarded as contenders to be amongst what is know as "reference recordings. "

Thank you
I'm still awaiting some thoughts on this statement that I have put forth.
What role does Szell's discography have in classical recordings?
 

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Close competition, for sure, they were all pretty miserable b**t**ds....Rodzinski had a volcanic temper, was given to summary firings, but so was Reiner...who was a domineering pr*ck...Szell was a micromanaging martinet....Stokowski and Mravinsky are way up on the podium tyrant list as well...
I read a comment somewhere. I'm sorry but I can't find the exact source but the statement was memorable. There was someone who
Worked with Reiner. The adjective was "sadistic." That is pretty low.

But I honestly feel discussing personalities of conductors of a past age are taking our eyes off the target.

The target is the artistry that is left behind in the recordings.
 

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Not sure what answer you're looking for....for me, Szell's discography is of very large importance....He conducted a large repertoire very well....he was a "literalist" rather than a "Romantic"...with Cleveland, he built a really superb orchestra, definitely one of the "best ever"....I enjoy many of his recordings, tho I generally prefer Reiner and Toscanini, who had the same approach, but are usually more flexible and elastic in their phrasing, while still maintaining great precision....
Szell can really let loose, tho, and when he does it's wonderful - he had the instrument with his Clevelanders, these guys could really play...
His Beethoven symphonies are excellent, #7 is terrific, and Leonore #3 top of the heap...I enjoy his Haydn and Mozart also, very fine....tho I maybe prefer walter and Reiner by a very slight margin....we're talking top-notch stuff here....
So, for me, Szell occupies a pretty prominent place in my collection, and I listen to his efforts often...
great musician, great conductor, real a*sh*le of a person....but he's not alone in that category...:rolleyes:
You're answer was perfect
 

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What works that he didn't record do you wish that he had? Knowing what you know about your preferences and his approach, what additional Szell/Cleveland recordings would you will into existence with optimism that you'd find them really enjoyable/interesting?
Great question. In his last season,Szell conducted Das Lied Von Der Erde. It was released-and never seen again-in a Cleveland release. I think it was the 75th Anniversary of Cleveland. There was also a Szell broadcast of Mahler 9. I have that as part of a Szell box from Cleveland Orchestra. I wish both were recorded in studio.
Szell recorded the Tchaikovsky 4&5. There is a broadcast of the 6th. That's another one I would love to have a studio recording.
At the present those are the three pieces that I wish we would have Szell studio recordings.
 

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Obviously this doesn't correct for number of recordings made nor the playlists spotify creates that would direct many 'casual' listeners who want some 'classical music', but for what it's worth here is the popularity of some conductors, including Szell, for Spotify listeners. Monthly listens:

Karajan: 2,617,000
Bernstein: 1,582,000
Abaddo: 1,370,000
Ormandy: 624,000
Davis: 523,000
Bohm: 498,000
Barbirolli: 271,000
Szell: 220,000
Haitink: 177,000
Reiner: 97,000
Wand: 83,000
Furtwangler: 47,000
Celibidache: 33,000
Klemperer: 32,000
Walter: 29,123
Toascanini: 9,600
Wow. Great info. Thank you. It sort of makes sense.
 

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Szell opera/choral performances etc.

Why is it Szell never recorded choral or opera works?

I find that interesting considering his style. This repertoire requires the ability to conduct a long legato line, the opposite of stiffness.

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There is an intervention with Szell if he would do any opera recordings. Although there are some opera recordings from Salzburg. And vocal recitals (Mahler-Schwarzkopf).

Paraphrasing. Rudolf Bing was asked if Szell was his own enemy. Bing replied,"Not as long as I am alive."
 

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Returning to Szell,,,,
Someone questioned his lack of choral/operatic recordings.

Szell developed in the old tradition. Working through opera houses. That was through the 1930’s until the Nazi terror. Szell was a major conductor of the NYC Metropolitan in the mid 1940’s. Szell performed plenty of vocal/choral works. I have a performance of Beethoven/Missa Solemnis that is awe-inspiring. However,there is an interview with Szell in the 1960’s. He was asked if he would go back into opera. He said that he would not due to sub-optimal standards.

Any insinuation that Szell stayed away from vocal/operatic works is getting desperate.
 

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I'm not arguing with that, but I'd point out that his 1961 Beethoven 9th is famous, and I think justifiably so. He also recorded the Strauss Four Last Songs with Schwarzkopf. The problem may have been simply that Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra didn't have one of the major record labels behind them. They recorded for the smaller Epic label, and got minimal distribution in the UK with the British Columbia subsidiary of EMI, which doubtless didn't want to create competition for their own artists. The original 1963 release on a British Columbia 2-LP set of Szell's Beethoven 9th sells for thousands on the collector's market. American Columbia Masterworks (i.e., CBS), finally took over when Epic dropped classical music in 1967, but Szell died in 1970. Columbia then reissued most of the Szell/Cleveland records on its Odyssey label.
fluteman….great point. And Szell hired Robert Shaw to be the director of the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus. Shaw already had built a great reputation as a choral director. There should be no questions about Szell's ability and knowledge and a sense of importance of choral or opera. Non whatsoever.
 

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I am going to try to type in an interview between Michael Charry and Myron Bloom. It was part of the liner notes to a CD release;Sony Classical,Szell,Cleveland-Richard Strauss,Don Quixote-Pierre Fournier,Don Juan,Horn Concerto 1 with Myron Bloom as soloist.
I hope there will be no auto-correct/spelling errors. Ok,here I go.

MYRON BLOOM REMEMBERS GEORGE SZELL.
by Michael Charry.

Myron Bloom was born in Cleveland,where he studied with Cleveland Orchestra second hornist Martin Morris. During my tenure as apprentice and associate conductor to Szell at the Cleveland(1961-1972) I had the opportunity to work with both Morris and his former pupil Bloom,who had become a matchless team. I asked Bloom how he first came to the Cleveland Orchestra:
Myron Bloom:I was playing at Marlboro,and Berl Senofsky(assistant concertmaster of the Cleveland Orchestra from 1951 to 1955) heard me play and arranged an audition with Szell. So I came to Cleveland,I played,and that was it. He hired me for third horn(in 1954). A year later,I got a call from Chicago saying, “We’d like to have you come and play first horn here.” I went to Szell and said,”I’ve been offered Chicago,first horn,and I want to take it.” Szell said to me,”Haven’t you heard? You’re going to be the next first horn of the Cleveland Orchestra.”

Michael Charry: Do you remember your first concerts as first horn,how that felt?
MB: I remember that whole first year. I was in a total state of shock. I’d walk on the stage and off like a zombie,my face white with fear and apprehension and panic-for the whole first year. I remember the first “Till Eulenspiegel.” Szell rode me mercilessly,and I was beside myself. I said,”I can’t let this go on.” This was my first experience with him in any way. I walked back,knocked on his door,and he said,”Yes,” and I walked in. Before I could say a word,I burst into tears. And he was so….sensitive. He embraced me. He was incredible.
MC: Tell me about playing the Strauss concerto.
MB: For the Strauss,Szell played the piano. I played the horn. We went right through it from beginning to end. He said,”Stunning.” Then with the orchestra,I just went right through it,never stopped. On the recording,I made just one insert,that was it. Right through from beginning to end.
MC:What else do you remember about playing with Szell?
MB: I remember everything I played with Szell and the orchestra. I remember the Mahler 9th very well. I know I’m patting myself on the back,but I can’t resist telling my Mahler Ninth story. We played the Mahler Ninth in New York and then took it to Boston. The Boston critic,Michael Steinberg,wrote a very long article in the Sunday paper,which featured me. It went on and on about me. He compared me with every other horn player then playing. It was such an ego bath for me,but it was well written,and(laughs) I believed it,of course. The next day in Boston,when I got in the elevator,there was Szell. We were alone,and he said,”Can I touch you?” A perfect straight line.
MC: You said,”Szell lives inside me all the time. “ Can you explain what that means to you?
MB: Szell’s way of music was to get everything clear and in order at first. Then the music-making could start. It couldn’t begin unless everything was right:rhythm,dynamics,articulation. But then when you began,when all that was in place……
MC:Then what happened?
MB:Magic.
 
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