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I don't think any Brahms cycle comes close to Kurt Sanderling's. This set is perfect in every way, including sound and performance. I can't even think of what version would run a distant second. 

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> On Sep 23, 2014, at 12:41 PM, John Haley <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> 
> Well, all the great conductors could be impatient with sloppy playing, but
> that's not what happened as a routine matter with the world's great
> orchestras that Dorati conducted, and not even in very good regional
> orchestras like Dallas had.  All of the leading orchestras in that era had
> no problem with delivering the goods and did not deserve abuse.  I have
> never heard anyone describe Dorati as "warm" and "liked."  Obviously he
> must have been very nice to the record company that was a major factor in
> sustaining his career.
> 
> I also like Steinberg's Pittsburgh Brahms cycle, but Munch's Brahms
> symphonies (the RCA ones, not always the live ones) are also really great,
> altho he never recorded the third symphony and there is no live one
> either.  Munch (who as a violinist had studied with Flesch had been
> Furtwangler's concertmaster) brought something of the sense of urgency and
> orchestral phrasing to the Brahms Symphonies that we hear in great older
> recordings, such as the superb Weingartner's, which can make "modern"
> recordings seem very pale by comparison, and RCA recorded Munch/BSO
> stunningly.  Reiner also "got it right" with Brahms, as he did with
> virtually everything he ever conducted.  His Brahms Third Symphony with CSO
> is magnificent in every way.  And Walter's mono cycle with the NY Phil is
> wonderful.  I guess everyone has favorites with staples like this.  With
> Dorati, things are correct but not inspired.  I never tire of the Brahms
> symphonies.
> 
> Best,
> John Haley
> 
> 
> 
> 
> On Tue, Sep 23, 2014 at 11:48 AM, Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>
> wrote:
> 
>> Hi John:
>> 
>> Musicians who recieved Dorati's wrath, for sloppy playing or ill
>> preparation, tended to feed the "reports" of his alleged ill temper. He
>> actually was a warm person, much liked by those who made recordings with
>> him. He was also known to be generous and to take regional orchestras to
>> very high levels of competence. I'm sure he battled hard with American
>> unions, and he got into quite a fight with unions and management when he
>> was in Detroit late in his career. We very much disagree on his recordings,
>> many of his are my favorites for various pieces (definitely at least partly
>> a product of being brought up on those performances, but I have listened to
>> the other "consensus favorites" for most works). He was interested in
>> making precise and exciting recordings, but less coldly precise than Szell
>> (who I also like very much). Dorati, especially in his Mercury era, rarely
>> turned out dull moments. His later work on Haydn, both the symphonies and
>> the operas, is still considered "the canon." I find it interesting that he
>> was so good with Haydn but also with Stravinsky and Copland. I happen to
>> agree that his Brahms cycle is OK but not great, to my taste. I'm not a
>> huge fan of Brahms in the first place, so I'm picky. I think that's a case
>> where the Szell treatment is quite good, but I really like what Steinberg
>> did with Pittsburgh (again, probably because that's what I was brought up
>> on), and also Solti/Chicago (which surprised me because I usually don't
>> consider Solti "the best" at any symphonic recordings but never "the worst"
>> -- Solti/Chicago also made a surpringly excellent "Rite of Spring"
>> recording, more furious than you'd ever expect). Anyway, Dorati was very
>> much liked and admired by the Mercury team, despite the occasional meltdown
>> when the orchestra wasn't getting it right. His approach to music matched
>> their approach to recording (get it right, overcome all obstacles, have no
>> patience for sloppiness, do things boldly and with great intensity, be
>> ambitious and optimistic).
>> 
>> -- Tom Fine
>> 
>> ----- Original Message ----- From: "John Haley" <[log in to unmask]>
>> To: <[log in to unmask]>
>> Sent: Tuesday, September 23, 2014 10:47 AM
>> 
>> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Records Ruin the Landscape
>> 
>> 
>> Re Tom's comments on Dorati.  Dorati was the conductor in Dallas for a
>>> while, and he left behind him there a reputation as a particularly nasty
>>> character, personally, to work for or with, and I recall having seen
>>> elsewhere some comments that orchestral musicians generally disliked him
>>> very much.  Of course he was not alone in that.  The Mercury CD's of his
>>> Brahms Symphony cycle are all in stereo, and it is very good, not great.
>>> Try as I might, I have never been able to "fall in love" with his records.
>>> Extreme competence as a conductor, but not the heart that other great
>>> ones brought to the task, including the three other great Hungarians who
>>> preceded him with leading conducting careers in the US, Reiner, Ormandy
>>> and
>>> Szell, all of whom made greater records (musically) than Dorati.  I am
>>> sure
>>> Dorati must have his great fans; I am just not one of them.
>>> 
>>> Best,
>>> John Haley
>>> 
>>> 
>>> 
>>> 
>>> On Tue, Sep 23, 2014 at 9:40 AM, Dennis Rooney <[log in to unmask]>
>>> wrote:
>>> 
>>> À propos the above comments, it was Doráti who conducted the MSO in the
>>>> local premiere of Mahler's Third (I believe the year was 1953), but
>>>> Mitropoulos had earlier recorded the First and Ormandy did an important
>>>> "Resurrection" there, recorded in concert by Victor in 1935. Steve
>>>> Smolian's recollection of academic opposition to Mahler is important to
>>>> note; however, Mahler was played by the larger U.S. orchestras,
>>>> sporadically but regularly from the teens on. Ernst Kunwald led a
>>>> performance of the Third in Cincinnati (May Festival) in 1913.
>>>> Unquestionably, Mahler was a beneficiary of the long-playing record, even
>>>> before stereo, with important recordings by Scherchen, Adler, Rosbaud,
>>>> etc.
>>>> 
>>>> DDR
>>>> 
>>>> On Mon, Sep 22, 2014 at 2:24 PM, Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>
>>>> wrote:
>>>> 
>>>>> Hi Don:
>>>>> 
>>>>> Mercury didn't adhere to any "standard canon of classical music" except
>>>> in
>>>>> that Paray and Dorati both liked Beethoven and Dorati liked Brahms and
>>>>> Tchaikovsky so those composers were well represented. Otherwise, Dorati
>>>>> made plenty of records of Hungarian, Russian, Czech and other Eastern
>>>>> European composers, plus an on-going series of well-received American
>>>> and
>>>>> European modern-classical composers. Paray usually stuck to French
>>>> music
>>>>> and Romantic era classical. Hanson was all about modern American music,
>>>> for
>>>>> the most part. Fennell was into a variety of things from marches to
>>>> "pops"
>>>>> to wind arrangements of symphonic music. None of this was "standard
>>>> canon,"
>>>>> and it was Mercury's main point of difference (note that there is not a
>>>>> complete Beethoven cycle on Mercury Living Presence, never a 9th
>>>> recorded
>>>>> and no released stereo 4th or 8th; if I recall correctly one of
>>>> Dorati's
>>>>> Brahms symphonies was mono-only too). I would say the reason no Mahler
>>>> was
>>>>> recorded was that none of Mercury's conductors or orchestras performed
>>>> or
>>>>> advocated Mahler, the exception being Barbirolli (who was actually
>>>> under
>>>>> contract with Pye). It's also worth noting that Walter and Bernstein
>>>>> started making well-received Mahler recordings in the "golden era"
>>>> (late
>>>>> mono/early stereo LP era). No sane record producer would spend very
>>>> many
>>>>> resources competing with Columbia's Bernstein publicity machine.
>>>> Columbia
>>>>> and RCA were much more obsessed with recording every note of every
>>>> piece
>>>>> from Beethoven to the 20th century, "standard canon" material, usually
>>>> by
>>>>> multiple conductors and orchestras. Finally, it's worth noting that
>>>> Dorati
>>>>> brought forth a lot of new-to-recordings material from Tchaikovsky like
>>>>> original scoring for the ballets, first recording of "1812" as it was
>>>>> originally conceived, first recording of the complete Suites. Dorati
>>>> also
>>>>> premiere-recorded several modern pieces. Hanson's recording tally is
>>>> full
>>>>> of premieres by the very nature of his American Music Festivals.
>>>> Fennell
>>>>> hunted down original band music never recorded and not heard since the
>>>>> original bands, including Confederate sheet music found in attics for
>>>> "The
>>>>> Civil War" albums. None of this is "standard canon of classical music"
>>>> by
>>>>> any stretch. Mercury buyers were not wanting the Reader's Digest Guide
>>>> To
>>>>> Great Music, but Mercury made sure not to get so out there on every
>>>> release
>>>>> that they couldn't sell records. This was part of what doomed Everest
>>>> --
>>>>> too much stuff that no one had heard of, no matter how well recorded.
>>>> The
>>>>> last thing they did, as they were in the midst of shutting down, was a
>>>>> mediocre Beethoven cycle with Krips.
>>>>> 
>>>>> To part of your point, it's doubtful that Mahler symphonies were being
>>>>> performed out in places like Minneapolis or Detroit in that period, or
>>>> that
>>>>> audiences were demanding it. But, I think if you checked concert
>>>> repertoire
>>>>> around the US, they were being performed here and there through the
>>>> years.
>>>>> 
>>>>> -- Tom Fine
>>>>> 
>>>>> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Don Cox" <[log in to unmask]>
>>>>> To: <[log in to unmask]>
>>>>> Sent: Monday, September 22, 2014 2:47 PM
>>>>> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Records Ruin the Landscape
>>>>> 
>>>>> 
>>>>> <snip>
>>>>> 
>>>>> There are no Mercury recordings of any of these (or of Mahler), which
>>>>>> shows they were not in the standard canon of classical music in the
>>>>>> 1950s.
>>>>>> 
>>>>>> Regards
>>>>>> --
>>>>>> Don Cox
>>>>>> [log in to unmask]
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> --
>>>> 1006 Langer Way
>>>> Delray Beach, FL 33483
>>>> 212.874.9626
>>> 
>>>