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Szell conducts musical fables

Szell conducts musical fables

Sony Classical (Japan)  SICC-10252

Stereo Hybrid

Classical - Orchestral


Janacek: Sinfonietta
Prokofiev: Lieutenant Kije
Kodaly: Hary Janos

The Cleveland Orchestra
George Szell (conductor)

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Comment by Tony Reif - April 20, 2020 (1 of 1)

There are two schools of thought about Szell: either he was one of the very greats, or he was a musical martinet who over-rehearsed and over-controlled, stifling the individuality of his orchestra's wonderful soloists. There must be some truth to the latter, but I'll stick wth the former, especially with performances this precise yet robust, exciting and colorful, and subtly tender where they most need to be. (Szell doesn't wear his heart on his sleeve the way Walter does, but he does HAVE a heart.) It begins with a majestically performed (those fanfares!) Sinfonietta, sounding somehow both authentically rough-edged and internationally suave at the same time. Then, a chamber-music sensitive Hary Janos Suite, capped by a classically lovely Kije, neither over-droll nor overly-nostaligic, almost dreamlike at times in its odd juxtapositions and open horizons. (One critic in reviewing the recent 106-CD Szell box singled out these latter two as their best-ever recordings.) Even the sound is pretty fine, the Sinfonietta (1965) a touch bright perhaps but spacious, with with palpable bass and good resolution, the other two (1969) even better. Not to be missed.