What are your TWO favorite Symphonic Recordings?

Only one would cruel and unusual punishment.

My first would be Joseph Krips 1958 recording of Schubert's 9th on London with the London SO.There was a CD of it as well
which is also OP I believe. If you can find either it or the record at anything under a $1OO its a good buy. Personally
I would give 2K for one if I didn't have a copy.
More than once I've read a critic claim this was the greatest record ever made. The LSO was at the top of its game and gave
this uber- powerful symphony a power-house performance.

My second is the 1976 recording of the Brahms 2nd by James Levine and the Chicago SO in the acoustically wonderful Medina Temple in Chicago. Originally it was on RCA but can be had on Amazon as part of Sony Classical 3 disc set of all Brahm'4 symphonies and his great masterpiece the "German Requiem" for less than 15 bucks ! Very nice sound as well.
Levine does a near-miracle in capturing the 2nd Symphonys combo of power , lyricism and harmonic stability all at the same time.
Of all the great Romantic composers Brahms was the most learned, he literally had the music of 4 centuries at his fingertips, knew every note of Bach, Mozart, Schubert and Beethoven. It took me 30 years of listening before I really
got a glimmer of just how great he is.

A few words of Brahms on Schubert;

"Where else is there a genius like his,that soars with such
boldness and certainty ...he is a child of the Gods...who plays in a region and at a height to which others can by no means attain .
Nice thread idea, Schubert. My two, in no particular order:

-- Brahms Symphony No. 1, Toscanini/NBC Symphony, recorded in 1940. My favorite performance of my favorite symphony. Can be listened to or downloaded here. The primitive mono sound doesn't matter, although it is surprisingly listenable.

-- Dvorak Symphony No. 9, "From The New World," Horenstein/Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Chesky CD31. Recorded in 1962, engineering by Kenneth Wilkinson. Great music, great performance, and probably the best sounding symphonic recording I have ever heard. Those who disdain the CD medium should hear this.

Best regards,
-- Al
Schubert, you are killing me, man. I have 7 kids and 2 grandchildren. Don't ask me to pick my favorite two.

I just can't do this based on musical or artistic grounds. I can make 2 choices based on sentimental grounds. My interest in symphonic music began 42 years ago. Two recordings of symphonic works remain in my library from that early period. LvB 9th, Toscanini, NBC Symphony orchestra. LvB, 3rd symphony, HvK and the Berlin Phil, the 1963 DG recording. These two recordings for me are like my first love. They still get a fair amount of playing time.
Al, we posted at almost the same time. I also have and love the Toscanini Brahms!
1-Beethoven Symphony #9 -CSO, Solti -1st cycle. I have the London, Decca, & Super Analog Decca Re-issue LP sets. The best sounding, at least on my system, is the K2HD Japanese CD.

2-Mahler Symphony #2 - CSO, Solti DDD CD on London
Over the years Mahler 6's and Rachmaninoff's Symphonic Dances probably got more play time than the other's. I guess that makes them 'favorites', but I really don't think of them as such. I've sort of grown unattached to big symphonic pieces. I'm finding chamber music and music for the solo piano especially rewarding now.
Almarg, you are not kidding when you say the Chesky Dvorak is a landmark in sound.Whenever I run into anything conducted by Horenstein I just buy it.

Brownsfan, of course you are correct, we all see all through
our own particular prism.I just want to see what others think. No decent person loves one child over another, or can deny he loves them all in different ways .

Newbee , all real Classical fans evolve in their tastes and thats a good thing , a very good thing, shows your mind and soul are open and growing.
40 years ago, I listened 75% of the time to Chamber Music, then had a Choral decade, then an Opera one and now mostly Symphony.
Mine would be Bruckner Symphony 8, Giulini/VPO, 1984. I know the popular choice is Giulini's 9th, but for me the 8th is every bit as good.

Thanks to Al's link, Toscanini's Brahms no.1 may have to replace my choice of Bruno Walter/Columbia Symphony Orch, 1959.

But what gets played the most is Karajan's Beethoven no.3. Sorry, I can't leave this one out.
Lowrider , you wouldn't be the first Brucknerian to prefer the 8th, or Giulini either.
I heard a really nice 8th from Tintner and the National SO of Ireland recently on Naxos.
The sound was outstanding as well.
Schubert, I just checked out the Tintner; the 1887 version is rarely recorded. Even the great Brucknerians; Jochum, Klemperer and Furtwangler performed the 1890.
Great find, thanks.
Wow; talk about difficult questions! So many great and so many favorite
recordings; not necessarily both. Some are "favorites" because
of the greatness of the performance and sense of perfection. By this
standard the two that come immediately to mind area the Kleiber/Vienna
Beethoven 5. I don't think there is a musical motif that, while being very
simple and instantly recognizable, has gotten more scrutiny and been given
more attention to subtleties of phrasing and dynamics than the Fifth's
opening motif. The Kleiber recording (especially the first movement) is
probably the definitive version of this great symphony and, in my mind, one
of the very greatest recorded performances of a symphony. The opening
motif is, of course, perfect. Another is the Reiner/Chicago "Concerto
For Orchestra". This recording is a paradox for me. While this
recording has always had, for me, that sense of "this is exactly how
this music is supposed to be played", it doesn't have the sense of
excitement that, for instance, the Solti/LSO has. The Finale of the Solti has
a "by the seat of the pants" excitement and abandon that is
breath taking; but, it is the Reiner that has the logic, the sense of order and
controlled power from beginning to end that I think the composer intended.
Those were the first two that came to mind. Already, I am thinking I should
substitute others for those two; but, since it really is an impossible task, I
will stick with the first two that came to mind.

Now, the first two favorites (without asterisks) that came to mind. The
Beethoven and Bartok are music that I like and truly admire. The next two
are performances of music that I really love; music that when listened to
(almost regardless of performance) seems to shut down the tendency to
analyze. My favorite recordings of these:

Gergiev/Kirov Prokofiev "Romeo And Juliet", complete ballet.
Probably my favorite living conductor conducting music that he seems to be
able to get inside of in a way that is just thrilling. Putting aside the notion of
the universality of music, if ever there was any truth to the idea that
orchestras of the same nationality as the composer have a certain ethnic
insight into the music, this is a great example of that. Anyone who thinks
that terms like "groove" or "in the pocket" or even
"funky" apply only to other genres should listen to this;
"The Death Of Tybalt", in its own way, grooves as much as any
r&b that I have heard. The other is Klemperer/Philarmonia "Das Lied
con der Erde". While I am somewhat mixed about Mahler's music in
general, I love this music. This version has a wonderful sense of deliberate
purpose that keeps the slower than usual tempos from being cloying and
overly sentimental in contrast to the faster pace of most other versions.
Glorious music, and again, the first two that came to mind.

Maybe I am cheating by mentioning four (with a distinction) instead of two;
and, while they are all symphonic, and "Das Lied" is sometimes
described as a symphony, only one is a symphony.
You must be a genius Frog,since I totally agree with every word you said.

Elee, WOW, you're into LvB's 9th like I'm into Shubert's 9th !
I don't know about the genius part, but thanks. Of course that should have been "von der Erde" (typo). Regards.
Thanks for the contributions. Threads such as this are why I frequent this forum!

Dvorak's 9th. is one of my favorites and while I have several versions, I wasn't aware of the Chesky one. I just purchased it and Valery Gengiev's version of Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet.

Plus, from HDTT (HighDefinitionTapeTransfers.com), I downloaded the 24/96 version of Joseph Krip's Schubert's 9th on London with the London SO. This was my first download from HDTT, but at $1.70 each, for 4 tracks, I didn't think that I could go wrong.
Mrmb, what's your honest opinion of the Krips?
No version suits everybody so feel free to be critical if thats the case.
After just finishing listening to Krip's version, critical it is then "Schubert"!
The quality of this late '50's recording and the performance garner my critical approval! Bold and powerful, but delightfully uplifting.

On the other hand, I just began Dvorak's 9th. on the Chesky label. Sonically, compared to the Krips, it's in another zip code! One of the best, if NOT the best, symphonic recordings I've ever heard! But oh my, the performance is so beautiful and stirring! All I can say is wow, oh WOW!!!

After getting out my notes from a college music appreciation class upon obtaining my 1st. high-end rig, seeking symphonic music to intermix with my preponderance of 60's & early 70's rock, I still recall listening & quickly learning to love this work! However this is the illusive performance & recording of the New World I have been seeking, but hadn't yet found! My hats off to you "Almarg". Thanks for the heads-up! It's truly appreciated!

We have a date to hear Dvorak's 9th. in a few weeks! I upgraded our season ticket seats to the dress circle because of my love for this piece, but I can't see how it could top what I'm now listening to!

Music reproduction of this superb quality, more than justifies all the time money and effort spent putting together a highly resolved system! The big CAT JL3 monos and Soundlabs are really purring & singing tonight. Gotta love it.

This is the way a symphonic recording should sound, but only very rarely does. What a combination: Horenstein & Chesky! All I can say is, if you can find this recording, buy it. It's a real, but rare treat....smile!!
Mahler 3rd Symphony - Bernstein
Saint Saens Organ Symphony - Ormandy
I have an even more favorite recording of Mahler 3rd by the Oslo Philharmonic I recorded off of NPR many years ago (the first I had ever heard) to VHS hifi tape, but not sure if that is commercially available.
Mrmb, thanks for the review.

I agree with your comments on the Krips..
Sings like only Schubert sings and at the same time moves inexorably forward like a 12 wheel steam locomotive.
Schubert, Buddy you nailed it on the Krips great C major!. Wow, this is what I always knew the work could be. Head and shoulders above every other performance I have heard. I owe you one!
That pleases me greatly !
When I first began to listen to Classical this was one of of the first dozen of records I bought at the University of Minnesota book store, a buck on close-out.

As I began to read (and READ) about Classical Music I kept reading these opinions that all Schubert's first 7 were juvenalia, lesser works etc. .Knowing how great the 9th was this seemed strange to me, I found a Beecham 2& 5th(which is in the league with Krips) and listened.
Even as a newbee I knew these critics were nuts.

Of course LvB symphonies, correctly, were always cited as among the very best.I compared over and over again Schubert's 2, 5. 9 with LvB's 2,5, 9 . In every case I could come to no conclusion other than, great a LvB's are, Schubert's were better.
Forty years ago Schubert didn't make every "top-ten" list. now he's usually in the top five.
Guess the creme does rise !

But LvB 7 is better than Schubert 7-LOL.

P.S.I read a article today that on 3 April 1897, the day of Brahms demise, every ship in the Kriegsmarine flew their 10 meter battleflags at half-mast.Surely a first , and last, as far as I know.
If you ever make a pilgrimage to Viennas Central Cemetery you'll find Schubert buried on a corner, right next to him lies Brahms(as he requested) next is Strauss the younger,Brahms buddy, next to him Hugo Wolff.
Mahler is buried around the corner from Schubert, perhaps 50 feet away. I often wonder if ,awaiting judgement day, the fellas ever have any conversations of an evening.
I don't know if you Schubert lovers know about the Bard Music Festival which takes place every summer at Annandale-On-Hudson in beautiful upstate NY. It is a remarkable music festival that, each year, focuses on one important classical composer. From Wiki:

**The Bard Music Festival is an annual classical music festival held during the month of August on the campus of Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York. Founded in 1990, the festival was created with the intention of finding ways to present the history of music in innovative ways to contemporary audiences. To this end, each year the festival selects a single composer to be its main focus and presents performances in tandem with presentations on biographical details on the subject and links to the worlds of literature, painting, theater, philosophy, and politics that would have influenced the life and works of the featured composer. The effort to bridge the worlds of performance and scholarship often results in a variety of concert formats and styles that often depart from the typical recital and concert structure. Concerts are frequently presented with informative preconcert talks, panel discussions by renowned musicians and scholars, and other special events. In addition, each season a book of essays, translations, and correspondence relating to the festival’s central figure is published by Princeton University Press. The festival is currently led by Artistic Directors Leon Botstein, Christopher H. Gibbs, and Robert Martin.

The festival's first featured composer was Johannes Brahms in 1990.[1] The upcoming 2014 festival shall focus on the world and works of Franz Schubert.**

It is a wonderful opportunity for music geeks and lovers of a particular composer to spend two weeks (or any part thereof) immersed in the music and life of that composer. I hope this information doesn't come across as unabashed promotion, but thought it might be of interest. The American Symphony Orchestra (I am a member) is the resident orchestra and is a very fine ensemble; and the new hall is first rate. Alas, Schubert did not write for the bass clarinet or saxophone.

Schubert, I will take a look for the Beechum. I have spent far too much trying to find Schubert that exposes the sublime beauty that is so clearly in his music.
Thanks Frog, health permitting I just might make that.
I'll tell all, having been all over the US and world, if there is a more beautiful place than Upstate NY, I'll kiss your butt on Main St. and give you 2 weeks to draw a crowd !

I did make the pilgrimage to the the Marlboro Festival in VT to see the sweat pour off the great Mitsuko Uchida playing Scubert's towering Sonata 21 in the hot summer sun.

From the little I've seen of Botstein it looks like he falls into the force of nature category?

Brownfan, I think there is a Beecham 3 and 5 on EMIs "Great Recordings of the Century". which is as good if not better, cheap and readily available om Amazon.
Botstein is a remarkable individual; amazing intellect.
Thats what I remember from a talk I heard him give once on NPR.
FWIT, I knew two young ladies in Berlin, one a clarinetist , the other an oboist , both grads of the Berlin Music Hochschule ( a cross between Julliard and Indiana), they played Schubert songs together as stay at home-moms and truly sang.
Some of the german students had Schubert's song in their DNA
to a degree I don't think any non native german speaker could.
Schubert, I found a nice used copy of the Beechum on Amazon. Thanks. I will mention a recent purchase that I have found very satisfying, a Newton classics release of Brahms Alto Rhapsodie and various choral works. ColinDavis/Nathalie Stutzmann. These performances for me, do something akin to what the Krips Schubert did. It gets to Brahms as I think Brahms should be. This makes me wonder if I should not give more of Davis' Brahms a try.

I've found all of the newton classics to be more than satisfactory. They appear to have a good ear for performances that deserve to be back in the catalogue. One disclaimer, I love this CD so much it stays in my car, so I have yet to have it in the house where I can evaluate it based on sonics.
I'll try a Newton, know nothing about it.Though I'm sure I could never hear anything but the overwhelmingly beautiful voice of Kathleen Ferrier in the Rhapsody, so deeply is it embedded .
Yesterday I listened to the Levine/Chicago SO Brahms 4th , 4 times in a row, new one for me.
Frogman, thanks very much for alerting us to the Schubert festival at Bard. I've just purchased tickets to the 8/17 1:30 p.m. performances of the D.959 sonata, various songs, and the D.951 piano duet. Albeit at the presumably lesser hall, Olin, but being able to take in the scenery during daytime drives to and from the area was a factor in that choice. (It's about an 80 mile trip for me from here in CT, btw).

Schubert, I too have and love the immortal 1947 performance of the Alto Rhapsody by Kathleen Ferrier, Clemens Krauss conducting the LPO, on an imported Decca LP I purchased during the 1980s.

Best regards,
-- Al
Excellent! And you are most welcome. The scenery is indeed beautiful and neighboring historic Rheinbeck is worth the ten minute drive for terrific restaurants. Also, be sure to stop by one of the local farmers markets for the best peaches anywhere; they will be in season. Regards.
Sounds nice! I wish I lived closer....
Have to many to name just 2.Thanks
Frogman. I just recalled that Schubert's last song , "Der Hirt auf dem Felsen' (D965) has a lovely written Clarinet obbligato .
Schubert, I brought the Alto Rhapsody in for a listen on the main rig. Disappointing sound.
Schubert, "Der Hirt auf dem Felsen" (The Sheperd On the
Rock) is one of my very favorite chamber works and one of Schubert's
most beautiful lieder. My two favorite recordings of the work are
"Music From Marlboro" with the great Benita Valente, ex-BSO
principal clarinetist Harold Wright and Rudolph Serkin, and the Kathleen
Battle/Karl Leister/James Levine on DG. Two equally beautiful but very different interpretations. Battle sounds absolutely ravishing and Levine
shows a rarely heard side of his formidable musicianship (pianist).
However, it is the Valente/Serkin/Wright version that has the magic with an
exquisite sense of fragility and innocence in contrast to Battle/Levine's
more purposeful reading. Both are highly recommended as great
performances. The Battle/Levine wins, hands down, in terms of sound
quality and offers a more up-front perspective. The Valente/Serkin is a live
recording with a more distant perspective and a bit of grain in the sound;
but, with the magic.
I have and love the Battle/ Levine. last decade or so if Levine is conducting or playing I just buy it .
My fave is the Barbara Bonney with clarinetist Sharon Kam on Warner, who I never heard before,or since, but who to my ears has a lovely liquid tone.
My biggest problem in music is wondering whether Schubert's op.99 or op100 trio is the most beautiful music ever written.
Unless of course his String Quintet in C is, I heard with my own little ears Arthur Rubenstein say it was.
I took the moniker Schubert on here thinking it was just a bunch of rockers who never heard of him, tad red-faced now that I did.
Brownsfan, these days sound is really secondary to the performance for me, will guess you can just get lost in the music as well.
In my exp.most 'philes are addicted to hard-edged "hi-fi" sound like Chesky and dislike natural sound like on the old Krips Decca.YMMV

I keep a pr of old Triangle Titus 202's monitors around, former class B streophile, because the tweeter is crossed in at over 6kz
and about anything sounds OK on them.
FWIW, I recently had the very great pleasure of hearing a young Norwegian lady trumpet player, Tina Thing Helseth play
the Haydn Concerto with the Madison SO.
I could NOT believe how great she was, I truly could not hear a trumpet , it was as if a super-human female voice was singing.
I'm no expert, but the only brass player I ever heard I could
compare her to is Dennis Brain.
Good calls on Kam and Helseth. Both are fantastic young players with beautiful tone and wonderful musicality. There is a wonderful video on Youtube of Kam playing the Mozart clarinet concerto on a basset clarinet with the extended range that Mozart wrote and intended as opposed to how it is usually played (low register passages played one octave higher because of the standard clarinet's more limited range). Helseth in particular has an unusually beautiful trumpet tone with a remarkable ease and lack of tension in her sound. For the geeks: notice the lack of tension in her face and mouth when she plays in contrast to the tightness and contortions that one sees from many brass players; a major contributor to that gorgeous tone. She had a great teacher.

Thanks, Frog . I've been to at least 1K, probally closer to 2k, classical concerts, NEVER heard anyone playing anything
with the ease Helseth plays the Trumpet.Well, perhaps Claudio Arrau,I heard him several times in Berlin, seemed like he just looked at the piano and sound issued forth. As I said , its really like she is singing, truly sounds like a female voice in the heavenly choir, as if God was her teacher.
@Frogman - you just listed my two favorite recordings of Shepherd on the Rock, too!

@Schubert - Helseth will be soloing with my orchestra very soon. I actually have not ever heard her play yet, so I am really looking forward to it.
Learsfool,Overture Hall in Madison has great acoustics, what is your hall like?
The hall I play in is considered world class, especially for opera - it is a multi-purpose venue. Acoustics are good both out in the audience and on the stage for us to hear each other as well - those two things do not always go together.

I can't remember if I have ever played in Overture Hall or not. I have performed in Madison with a traveling opera company, but do not remember the venue. This would have been 1994, I think, possibly 95. I think it may have been on the campus of U of W Madison. Is that Overture Hall?
No, Overture hall is a beautiful newish(5 yr old i think )2500 seat venue in downtown Madison . Madison SO is a good class B band IMO. just yesterday the Green Bay SO, a decent semi-pro band disbanded after 105 years for lack of an audience.Happening everywhere, I really miss the Syracuse SO which I thought was really good.
If you think Tina Helseth is "not all that" as they say, please tell me, your honest opinion is valuable .
Sounds like you play in my fave venue, the Gewandhaus.LOL
2500 seating, huh? Pretty big, that must be a multi-purpose venue as well, I'd guess.

Sad about the Green Bay symphony, but it isn't over yet. Perhaps they can still be saved, ala the San Diego Opera. Also, it is irksome to me that not just the media, but the arts institutions themselves keep repeating this mantra that everything is failing. Actually, there are more orchestras doing well than ever. Musicians have had to do their own advocacy/education on this issue, though, as our managements apparently don't know how. What other business do you know of that continually trashes itself??!! OK, rant over.
In all fields, American workers are competitive.
In all fields, American management is not.

Perhaps a bit of my usual overstatement to make a point, but thats what I've seen.
Learsfool, I checked the stats online of Overture Hall, my eyeballs were not all that far off, it seats 2,250 , home base for Madison SO, WI Chamber Orchestra, Mad.Opera and Ballet. In a 10 year old building also housing art museum , total cost was $210 Million inclusive of a great Klais organ.
Does host plays,acts like Steely Dan, but was built as a classical concert hall, stunning visually and aurally.
Schubert, I noticed that Ferrier's Alto Rhapsody is being reissued on SACD by Praga. It will be available June 2 through Presto. That is on my list of must haves. Thanks for the recommendation.
Aside from Tiny Tim or perhaps Blossom Dearie(who I actually like), she has the most unique voice I've ever heard.
From the Wikipedia writeup on Kathleen Ferrier:
The opera critic Rupert Christiansen, writing as the 50th anniversary of Ferrier's death approached, maintained that "no singer in this country [the UK] has ever been more deeply loved, as much for the person she was as for the voice she uttered." Her death, he continued, "quite literally shattered the euphoria of the Coronation" (which had taken place on 2 June 1953). Ian Jack, editor of Granta, believed that she "may well have been the most celebrated woman in Britain after the Queen." Among the many tributes from her colleagues, that of Bruno Walter has been highlighted by biographers: "The greatest thing in music in my life has been to have known Kathleen Ferrier and Gustav Mahler—in that order." Very few singers, Lord Harewood writes, "have earned so powerful a valedictory from so senior a colleague." At a memorial service at Southwark Cathedral on 14 November 1953 the Bishop of Croydon, in his eulogy, said of Ferrier's voice: "She seemed to bring into this world a radiance from another world."

From time to time commentators have speculated on the directions Ferrier's career might have taken had she lived.... Christiansen further suggests that, given the changes of style over the past 50 years, Ferrier might have been less successful in the 21st century world: "We dislike low-lying voices, for one thing — contraltos now sound freakish and headmistressy, and even the majority of mezzo-sopranos should more accurately be categorised as almost-sopranos." However, she was "a singer of, and for, her time — a time of grief and weariness, national self-respect and a belief in human nobility." In this context "her artistry stands upright, austere, unfussy, fundamental and sincere."
Best regards,
-- Al