Maurice de Abravanel

Brahms: Orchestral Works [DualDisc]

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Maurice de Abravanel's 1976 recordings with the Utah Symphony Orchestra of Brahms' Symphony No. 1 in C minor and the Variations on a Theme by Haydn are respectable for their performances, but not especially desirable for their sound quality, even though they have been remixed here in 5.1 multichannel. With a little forbearance, one can at least appreciate Abravanel's sincere musicality and the USO's vigor and overall cohesion, despite some minor scrappiness in the strings. Even though these dutiful readings are not the all-time greatest, they have a degree of charm and spontaneity that may grow on the listener with repeated play. However, the remastering of the original four-track Vanguard recordings seems to have improved the sound quality only enough to give the orchestra some extra depth and clearer separation. Some upper partials have disappeared, though, perhaps eliminated in the removal of hiss, and the music has a slightly compressed, boxy quality that is hard to get past, even with the other studio enhancements. To make this album more attractive, Silverline has added DVD features, including a video tribute to the conductor, still photographs, interviews, and a behind-the-scenes documentary. While these are at least worth a look, only die-hard Abravanel fans will find them interesting enough to view more than once.

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