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Bouquets to HDTT for bringing us the Command Classics series of Beethovens form Steinberg, with 1,2,3,4 and 7 in the bag and hopefully the remaining ones to come soon. These cheerful, non-interventionist performances, superbly engineered, are up there with the best. For me, the only Seventh to rival this one is Steinberg's own earlier Pittsburgh version released by Capitol in 1957 and happily also now available on CD. Ten-out-of-ten, thank you
William Steinberg never reached the superstar status of some of his contemporaries. He was, nonetheless, an insightful and pragmatic conductor. Trained under Klemperer, he had a prominent career in Europe. He had a close call with Nazis and was subsequently brought to this country by Toscanini. He was prominently featured with Boston, NY Phil. and others. During his 24-year tenure with Pittsburgh, an orchestra he dearly loved, he recorded this legendary Rachmaninoff 2nd. What most people don't know about him is that he would conduct initial performances under tempo, increasing with each subsequent performance. This recording was made at the end of one of those cycles and is highly energized. It's the famous 3rd movement which makes this recording so memorable. Ten seconds in, you'll think "Wow! I didn't know Pittsburgh could play like this" They could and they did. The sensitivity and musicality is what makes this greater than Ormandy's famous rendering. The last movement is on fire. Technically, the recording is mid-range heavy and lacking in warm bass, which is unfortunate. It betrays engineer Bob Fine's legendary work. But listen through for a justly revered performance. That 3rd movement will really get you!
As a person who spent several years working as an engineer for a classical radio station in Los Angeles, and as an avid fan of Beethoven symphonies, I have heard many performances of Beethoven's Seventh. I have to say Steinberg's interpretation is up there with the best I have heard. Most excellent! I remember Command records from my high school years. What a great idea to record on magnetically-coated 35mmfilm. I remember a few classics, but, as this was the early 1960's, a lot of the Command recordings were bongo drums. The quality is exquisite. I have listened to the DSD 128 and the DXD recordings, and I must say I slightly prefer the DSD 128 recording. This is special, and I look forward to more Steinberg Beethoven!
Title: Beethoven Symphony No. 7 In A, Op. 92
Artist(s): Conductor – William Steinberg
Orchestra – The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
Recording Info: Recorded May 2, 1962, at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Auditorium, Pittsburgh by Command Classics on 35 mm magnetic film.
Recorded By – Robert Fine
Producer – Enoch Light
1 Poco Sostenuto 14:26
2 Allegretto 8:30
3 Presto 7:28
4 Allegro Con Brio 6:59