Kurt Sanderling

Beethoven: Symphony No. 6; Brahms: Concerto for Violin, Op. 102

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For fans of East German conductor Kurt Sanderling, this 2007 Hänssler two-disc set brings together a rare treat and a familiar gem. The rare treat is a live concert from 1985 of Sanderling leading the WDR Sinfonie Orchester Köln in Beethoven's Sixth Symphony and Brahms' Double Concerto with violinist Thomas Zehetmair and cellist Antonio Meneses. The familiar gem is Sanderling leading the USSR Radio & Television Large Symphony Orchestra and the State Academy Russian Chorus with pianist Sviatoslav Richter in Beethoven's Choral Fantasy recorded in Moscow in 1952. All three performances are superb -- and typical of Sanderling in their combination of strength, energy, and integrity. His Beethoven Sixth is rugged and rustic, but still beautifully played, while his Brahms Double is robust and vigorous, but still passionately played, especially by the two soloists. And his Beethoven Choral Fantasy is, as it has always been in all its many other recorded incarnations, one of the greatest performances of the work ever recorded: an inspired and ecstatic account with a virtuosic handling of the extensive solo part by Richter. The digital sound of the Cologne concert is clear, cool, and deep. The monaural sound of the Moscow concert is gray, cramped, and gloomy.

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