With all of Deutsche Grammophon, Decca, and Philips catalogs to choose from, why did producers pick for re-release Christoph von Dohnányi and the Cleveland Orchestra's recordings of Schumann's Second and Third symphonies? Among many others, they had Karajan and the Berlin, Solti with the Vienna, and Haitink with the Concertgebouw, so why pick Dohnányi and the Cleveland? Because they are digital recordings? Perhaps: the very word "digital" is still a potent talisman for listeners looking for a first and perhaps only recording. But while Decca's digital sound is well remastered in these "ambient surround imaging" reissues, one hopes the real reason for the re-release of Dohnányi's performances is that they are so fine. Compared with Karajan's slick but shallow performances, Solti's powerful but unpersuasive performances, and Haitink's polished but unconvincing performances, Dohnányi's affectionate interpretations and the Cleveland's committed performances sound powerful, polished, and, best of all, completely dedicated. While one might have wished the producers had picked Kubelík and the Berlin's passionately lyrical and intensely dramatic performances for re-release, and while one might prefer Szell and the Cleveland's magnificently commanding performances on Sony or Sawallisch and the Dresden Staatskapelle's wonderfully idiomatic performances on EMI, one could do much worse than Dohnányi and the Cleveland's performances.
AllMusic Review by James Leonard
|Symphony No. 2 in C major, Op. 61|
|Symphony No. 3 in E flat major ("Rhenish"), Op. 97|