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Schumann's Third must surely rank as one of the most joyous of Romantic era symphonies and certainly in this vintage recording it is almost impossible not to be swept away by the composer's images of the Rhineland. Attention is held from the outset, the opening cross rhythms and (not least in the present transfer) a singing violin sound. Brass fans will not be disappointed: witness the thrilling horns at around 5:40 - although Szell keeps them slightly restrained, knowing there is more to come later. The second movement seems far from what is usually taken to be a scherzo in symphonic music; highly original, based on a theme which was actually a slow Ländler and almost - at times - as if in a gently rocking boat making its way along the river itself. The third movement is, translated, marked 'not fast' and has moments of real Schumann beauty. Fourth is an awe inspiring view of Cologne Cathedral, an eerie sound picture created by quiet horns and the alto trombone which rises well into treble clef territory. The finale opens with a jaunty, attractive theme, pointed superbly by Szell and his Clevelanders. The last two minutes of the symphony are pure joy in this recording; notably the lead up to the resounding full brass-led tutti at 4:30, soon to be followed by the orchestra seemingly going into overdrive towards the triumphant close. The Overture is all that remains of Schumann's incidental music to Byron's Manfred. This too receives a highly appropriate dramatic performance, judged to perfection by Szell. Fabulous. Overall, the playing here is second to none, extremely virtuosic but always at the service of the music; the recording is excellent for the period. The transfers have warmth, appropriate brightness and a pleasing texture that some CD remasterings don't always capture. Going on the 24/96 download, thoroughly recommended.
Title: Schumann Symphony No. 3 In E-flat Major, Op. 97 "Rhenish"
Artist(s): George Szell conducting The Cleveland Orchestra
Recording Info: Recorded by Columbia October 21, 1960 at Severance Hall
Executive Producer -Thomas Frost
Producer - Howard Scott
1 Lebhaft 9:14
2 Scherzo: Serhr Mässig 6:16
3 Nicht Schnell 5:09
4 Feierlich 5:46
5 Lebhaft 5:49
6 Manfred Overture 11:00