Keeping tracks

No, not about trains, but about music

Below I plan to add details about particular bits of music in particular interpretations which I think are just great.

Haydn: Symphony No.48, 1st movement: Antal Dorati and the Philharmonia Hungarica

What a first movement! Energy! Sometimes, an orchestra and conductor and recording get it just right. This is one such time. Dorati was good at Haydn – the first to record all 104 and more symphonies, but this particular bit is quite special. Dorati was also good at Bartok, Stravinsky, Kodaly, Tchaikovsky, and Brahms, not to mention Beethoven, but we’re talking about Haydn here. This first movement is a real ear-worm – try it.

Dvorak: Symphony No.3: 1st movement: Vaclav Smetacek and the Prague Symphony Orchestra

This is one of Dvorak’s early symphonies, but the first movement is one of my very favourite bits. It builds up to a very exciting ending, with a wonderful long, increasing roll on the drums. I’ve probably heard all the published versions of this, and none matches this old recording conducted by Smetacek.

Old performances are often better!

Nowadays, it is becoming rather rare for a new recording of any great masterpiece to eclipse all the competition. This is partly because there are fewer new releases of classical music on the big labels. However, it is mainly because there is such a wealth of reissues of great performances from the past, which from the late 195os are usually in stereo. The sound on some of these reissues is very nearly as good as present-day sound, when heard through decent speakers or good headphones.