101 Best Classical Music CDs:
Austro-German Early Romanticism
SPOHR (1784-1859): Nonet op. 31 - Octet op. 32
Composer, conductor and violinist, the German Louis Spohr was with
Weber and Mendelssohn one of the major figures of early Romanticism.
Clearly, music to be played "out of doors", these two brilliant
works for strings and woodwinds have an irresistable pastoral charm. The
Berlin Octet is simply glorious. Superb sound engineering.
SCHUBERT (1797-1828): Impromptus op. 90+142
When choosing a recording of the Schubert Impromptus, you might
turn to the Swiss pianist Edwin Fischer (1886-1960). He remains the model
for all; but if the date (1938) throws you, choose one of the two versions
recorded by his distinguished pupil Alfred Brendel, who once said of
Schubert's music: "Without it I should probably be less 'human.' "
SCHUBERT (1797-1828): Symphonies no 8 Unfinished + no 9
The Great Cleveland Orchestra
George Szell, conductor
Composed four years after the famous Unfinished, the "Great"
Symphony in C (1826) is the strongest orchestral work written between the
Beethoven's Ninth (1827) and Bruckner's Fifth (1877). The tough-skinned
George Szell (1897-1970) belonged to that extinct race of
conductor-dictators. The Cleveland Orchestra, which became under his reign
(1946-1970) one of the best in America (with Chicago and Philadelphia)
possessed, in his hands, the power, lines and class of the most legendary
SCHUBERT (1797-1828): Quintet in C - Quartettsatz
Weller Quartet, Dietfried Gürtler (second cello)
Chamber music is as central to Schubert's oeuvre as it is in Brahms.
The Quintette in C for two violoncellos, which Schubert finished just
before dying of syphilis, is one of his most emotionally disturbing works
(not to be confused with the inoffensive Trout piano quintet). The
Viennese Weller Quartet which had its moment of glory in the '60s, has
left us a version which could be easily termed definitive.
SCHUBERT (1797-1828): Winterreise
Michael Raucheisen, piano
The undisputed master of the song for voice and piano, Schubert
composed more than 600 melodies, many of which are masterpieces. At the
head of this enormous production figures the immortal Winterreise.
Originally written for tenor, this cycle expresses with a unique poetic
and dramatic force man's disarray when confronted with his own solitude
and death. Here, Schubert is the equal of the greatest Greek dramatists.
MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847): Ein Sommernachtstraum (A Midsummer
Edith Wiens, Christiane Oertel
Kurt Masur, conductor
"Music of the elves", said Richard Strauss of Mendelssohn's
Ein Sommernachtstraum and with Mendelssohn (and Bach) being the
key composer of Leipzig, where would you find more magical music? The
Leipziger musicians who recorded this version drank it in with their
mother's milk. If your cousin's getting married next month, offer her this
album - the Wedding March still works!