Schumann: 4 Symphonies - Tilson Thomas

Schumann: 4 Symphonies - Tilson Thomas

San Francisco Symphony  SFS 0071 (2 discs)

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical - Orchestral

Schumann: Symphonies 1-4

San Francisco Symphony
Michael Tilson Thomas (conductor)

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8 of 9 recommend this, would you recommend it?  yes | no

Comments (14)

Comment by hiredfox - October 14, 2017 (1 of 14)

This listing had me sighing with relief. It's been far too long since the last SACD from the SFS.

Comment by Waveform - October 14, 2017 (2 of 14)

I agree! Can't wait to hear this!

Comment by William Hecht - October 14, 2017 (3 of 14)

I guess this is what they mean by "taking one for the team". With three complete sacd sets already on my shelf I need this like a hole in the head but I've got to support the SFS.

Comment by hiredfox - October 18, 2017 (4 of 14)

All is not lost Bill, these symphonies are notoriously difficult to get right. Most SACD sets have disappointed in one way or another.

Comment by William Hecht - October 18, 2017 (5 of 14)

True John, but I'm pretty fond of the Ticciati set and also enjoy significant parts of Dausgaard's and Foster's (though the Pentatone engineers didn't entirely succeed in taming the Rudolfinum). Believe it or not I still have the Sawallisch set on SQ encoded LP's (I haven't actually listened to an LP in quite a number of years but some have hung around the house for reasons I can't explain decades after the SQ, QS , CD-4 equipment exited). It would have been nice had it gotten the Pentatone RQR treatment instead of being consigned to the stereo only gulag. If the sound cleaned up well from the original quad masters that might have been the best of all.

Comment by Waveform - October 18, 2017 (6 of 14)

I've enjoyed to listen to the Ticciati set - beautifully mixed surround sound, spirited performances. Dausgaard, also, is very good but lacks the last drop of excitement due to the dry acoustics of the recording venue (this is, naturally, a thing you cannot affect much...). Simon Gaudenz on CPO offers fiery interpretations of the scores and he is, I think, the most exciting of all. But as I mentioned above I'm looking forward to hearing of this new release.

Comment by William Hecht - October 21, 2017 (7 of 14)

I've always bought my SFSO discs directly from the orchestra and so was surprised to discover that it has abandoned direct sales and delegated everything to Amazon, Presto, and Arkiv. In my neck of the woods, and despite being an Amazon prime member meaning no shipping cost, Presto has by far the best price.

Comment by hiredfox - October 28, 2017 (8 of 14)

We are no nearer clarity on Brexit now than when the whole process started 18 months ago, with the inevitable impact on the trading value of sterling. UK supplier prices must be incredibly attractive to collectors in the USA & Europe particularly. Evidently a very good time for you chaps to stockpile SACD discs.

Alas, the reverse is true for we Brits. SACD are more expensive now than ever they have been with the unavoidable consequences of these higher prices. Presto really do try their best to help us as well as our friends overseas but for me it has meant fewer orders placed in 2017 than in any year since the SACD habit had taken hold although in monetary terms probably that means a similar expenditure. The riskier repertoire are the likely casualties.

Comment by Norman Reeder - December 1, 2017 (9 of 14)

Ok, I'm not a regular reviewer on this site but have posted earlier reviews, but the new reviews rules require regular reviews and that's not me. I have listened to this set and found it wonderful. The only set I have now is the Dausgard Swedish Chamber Orchestra discs (3 discs). I know it's a little "apples vs. oranges" comparison, but it's all I have.

Dausgaard was noted for it's chamber orchestra clarity and fast temps. But I found the overall acoustic lacking. There's little ambiance to his discs either due to the recording or the recording venue. Dausgaard is uniformly 4 - 6 minutes faster for each symphony than Tilson Thomas. However, I didn't mind this at all because the SF Symphony recordings seem to have more natural breathing room, but are by no means "slow". There's a natural flow to each symphony. But what is the killer here is the recorded sound. This is a big orchestra, but Tilson Thomas says in the booklet (a quite nice production of two discs, booklet, and a cardboard book), that for many passages, he reduces the number of musicians playing so that melodies and harmonies can be heard.

The "environment" is totally different than the Dausgaard. With these, you are "in the hall", with the back channels (this is a 5.1 recording with subwoofer channel), giving you a total sense of being enveloped by the sound. Because of this there is probably more transparency than the Dausgaard. This new set is the one I will keep. Dausgaard does have a number of overtures and that is why his set takes 3 discs, not two.


Comment by hiredfox - December 2, 2017 (10 of 14)

Thanks for your input Norman. Any views on the performances? Arguably it is the simplicity of structure of these symphonies that frustrates expressiveness in many recordings, some are even quite bland. Once described collectively as light and trite!

"Spring" is the pick of the bunch and the most frequently performed in the concert hall.

Comment by Norman Reeder - December 2, 2017 (11 of 14)

To briefly answer the above question, I liked the performances very much. There is a natural ebb and flow, and with all of those chords that strike and have a pause, there's the resound from the hall that fills in. I always felt Dausgaard, as much as I liked the performance was just faster than I was used to, but he made a good case for that. I didn't feel that Tilson Thomas imposed anything on the performances that wasn't in the score. There's no unusual pauses or retards or mannerisms that I can hear. The music just flows along naturally. All in all these are very enjoyable to listen to.


Comment by Adrian Quanjer - December 13, 2017 (12 of 14)

Got the set yesterday. I find these performances deliciously traditional, like I remember them from days gone by. MTT conveys them unadulterated and does so splendidly, without trying to add things for the sake of seeking short lived attention. One thing though, the recording (PCM 24/96) is not at the same level as previous ones (Mahler).

Comment by hiredfox - July 27, 2018 (13 of 14)

Seems we may have come to the end of this particular road as far as MTT and SACD is concerned. Their new disc of Tchaikovsky's 6th is on RBCD or 192kHz download only

Comment by Aastroem - July 31, 2018 (14 of 14)

I have been a great admirer of MTT for many years and was looking forward to this set. But was I disappointed! I have never heard Schumann so dull, so grey and uneventful as here. There is nothing of Schumann's neurotic, even psychotic and intense writing in these performances. It's all like a slow walk in the idyllic wood, and that's not what Schumann is about. MTT has transformed his orchestra into a well oiled machinery with no sharp edges anywhere.