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Walter's Brahms 2
Just as there's a fine line between perfectly caramelized and burned, there's a fine line between a brightly lit and a harshly lit recording. At times this recording is a bit too much of the latter. This is a shame, and works against the more gentle, lyrical aspects of Walter's interpretation. On the positive side, this is a great performance that has never sounded quite so vivid as it does here.
Recording that's stood the test of time
If I had to choose one Brahms symphony cycle to live with it would be Walter's 1959/60 stereo one for Columbia, from which this performance is drawn. For the 2nd Symphony taken alone, for me there are several other great performances, all with their various merits, not least Sir Adrian Boult's with the London Philharmonic on (now Warner) EMI - one of those performances that once you've started to listen to it seems just couldn't be played in any other way. The present recording remains a great performance to live with, having remained high on reviewers' lists over the years: if you want a truly excellent download derived from open reel tape or if you enjoy listening to great American orchestras (albeit a pick-up one such as the Columbia SO), go for this without hesitation. I believe the transfer from tape here reflects how this recording was balanced at the time. Symphony No. 2 in the Walter stereo cycle, from what I can remember, always had a dryish but warm sound with a bright edge. The sound is certainly bright here, but no more so that the CBS Classics release on Lp of the same recording, following an A/B comparison. The Sony Bruno Walter 'The Edition' CD is mastered more brightly than the early CBS Masterworks Bruno Walter Brahms release, but the open reel version here is just what it says metaphorically 'on the box', in that we hear reflects what would have been heard in the 60's had we had a state-of-the-art Revox or similar player at the time - possibly better, in fact!
Fine performance, poor sound
Not the best Walter transfer HDTT has done. The performance and playing is lovely, albeit in a rather old-fashioned sounding performance. However, the tapes used must have been in poor nick, as the resulting sound is verging on unlistenably bleached, harsh and gritty. A pity.
Title: Brahms: Symphony No. 2 In D
Artist(s): Bruno Walter conducts The Columbia Symphony Orchestra
Recording Info: Transferred from a 15ips tape
Recorded 1960 at American Legion Hall by Columbia Records
I - Allegro Non Troppo 15:09
II - Adgio Non Troppo 10:39
III - Allegretto Grazioso 5:34
IV - Allegro Con Spirito 9:37
Total Time 40:59
Digital re-mastering in DSD256 :
Merging Technology Pyramix software with the
Hapi Analog to Digital converter