The Bruno Walter most people know is the Bruno Walter of the Columbia Symphony Orchestra recordings of the '50s. Made during his retirement, Walter's late recordings of Beethoven, Brahms, Mozart, and especially Mahler were warm, deep, humane, and a bit on the slow side. Because they were recorded for the new medium of the long playing record, his '50s recordings not only superceded Walter's earlier recordings, they became the standard Walter recordings for years to come.
But the Walter of the '50s had by this time lived through two wars, been exiled from three countries, and suffered several heart attacks. The Walter of the '20s and '30s was almost an entirely different conductor. In these recordings of Mozart's E flat major and G minor Symphonies with the Staatskapelle Berlin from 1934 and 1929, Walter is extremely passionate, intensely expressive, immensely dramatic, and a bit on the fast side. And in this 1926 recording of Strauss' Don Juan with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Walter is even more passionate, exceedingly sensual, enormously subjective, and quite a bit on the fast side. These performances have been in and out of print on various legitimate and pirate labels since they were originally released, but the remastering on this Opus Kura disc is surely the clearest and cleanest of them all -- even if it is suffused with surface noise.