The Four Symphonies:
No.1 in B flat, Op.38 (Spring)
No.2 in C, Op.61
No.3 in E flat, Op.97 (Rhenish)
No.4 in D minor, Op.120 [Revised Version]
Overture, Scherzo and Finale, Op.52
EMI 5677682 (2 CDs)
2 hours 29 minutes
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|Recorded in 1972, Wolfgang Sawallischs buoyant, expressive readings of Schumanns adorable symphonies are now justifiably included in EMIs "Great Recordings of the Century" series. Sawallisch, like most conductors, plays the Fourth in its 1851 revision. (You can look to Harnoncourt on Teldec for the decade-earlier original.)
Staatskapelle Dresdens intimacy with this inspired music informs every bar of these timeless renditions, and Sawallisch is a master of Schumanns Classical/Romantic designs. Theres no finer version of the wonderful Second Symphony in its drive and passion, nor a more light-footed Overture, Scherzo and Finale, a joyous and underrated work.
Sawallischs germane balances are captured in the glowing acoustic of Dresdens Lukaskirche. With warmth and detail ideally entwined, Sawallischs subtle control allows Schumanns flights of fancy to take off.
Schumanns symphonies have done well in the studio. While there are strong claims from other conductors Celibidache (Nos. 2 & 3), Dohnanyi, Kubelik (his DG set), Schwarz and Sinopoli Sawallischs tapings have been a top recommendation for thirty years and sound as fresh today as when the original LPs were first auditioned. As a library choice, this is an unbeatable set.