Best "First" symphonies

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Heck148
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Best "First" symphonies

Post by Heck148 » Mon Dec 20, 2010 6:53 pm

This topic has been visited before, IIRC - tho quite some time ago...

there are so many great symphonic composers -

whose "First" symphony is best?? this of course could mean - the greatest, or it could mean - your favorite :)

for me:

Sibelius
Shostakovich
Walton

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Re: Best "First" symphonies

Post by gfweis » Mon Dec 20, 2010 8:15 pm

Those three--Sibelius, Shostakovich, Walton---are surely good ones. I think I would say: Brahms, Mahler, Prokofiev. But your three would not be far behind (and the Sibelius would challenge the Prokofiev).
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Re: Best "First" symphonies

Post by Allen » Mon Dec 20, 2010 8:25 pm

Bizet
:lol: :lol: :lol:

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Re: Best "First" symphonies

Post by Heck148 » Mon Dec 20, 2010 8:27 pm

Allen wrote:Bizet
:lol: :lol: :lol:
that's not technically a "first" symphony, is it?? :D

it's symphony in C. did he write any more??

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Re: Best "First" symphonies

Post by Allen » Mon Dec 20, 2010 8:48 pm

It seems that he did.

http://imslp.org/wiki/Sortable_list_of_ ... rges_Bizet


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Re: Best "First" symphonies

Post by Heck148 » Mon Dec 20, 2010 8:56 pm

Allen wrote:It seems that he did.
I regard his Sym iC rather like Franck's d minor - rather "one of a kind"...
but whatever -

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Re: Best "First" symphonies

Post by jbuck919 » Mon Dec 20, 2010 8:59 pm

Allen wrote:It seems that he did.

http://imslp.org/wiki/Sortable_list_of_ ... rges_Bizet


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All right then--Berlioz or Franck (a theme emerges). :wink:

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Re: Best "First" symphonies

Post by Barry » Mon Dec 20, 2010 9:31 pm

Brahms
Mahler
Sibelius

In that order (unless the Symphonie Fantastique is considered to be a first symphony, in which case I'd put that behind the Mahler and bump Sibelius down).
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Re: Best "First" symphonies

Post by Heck148 » Mon Dec 20, 2010 9:46 pm

suggestion - Let's do numbered symphonies -

or in cases like Stravinsky and Hindemith - the works aren't numbered, but they each wrote several symphonies which may be logged chronologically.

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Re: Best "First" symphonies

Post by CharmNewton » Tue Dec 21, 2010 12:36 am

Mahler
Tchaikovsky
Brahms

The Mahler is a bold and confident work for a composer in his mid 20s. I find the Tchaikovsky very beautiful. He was probably a 20 something too. :D

I still remember hearing the opening of the Brahms for the first time over the radio (Walter/N.Y. Phil). Riveting.

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Re: Best "First" symphonies

Post by springrite » Tue Dec 21, 2010 1:03 am

Mahler
Brahms
Brian
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Re: Best "First" symphonies

Post by Lance » Tue Dec 21, 2010 1:20 am

To select just one, I would have to say:

PROKOFIEV: Symphony #1 in D Major, Op. 25 (“Classical”)
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Re: Best "First" symphonies

Post by Chalkperson » Tue Dec 21, 2010 1:28 am

Mahler, nobody else even comes close...IMHO of course...although some of our other Celtic Members may agree with me... :wink:
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Re: Best "First" symphonies

Post by Jack Kelso » Tue Dec 21, 2010 5:05 am

Amazing---this thread is just BEGGING for it. So here it is:

Schumann's First, a truly original and highly expressive first. Also, those single ones of Bizet, Franck, Dukas, etc. DO qualify for "firsts", since that's what they really are....regardless of the fact that they stand alone in their composers' outputs.

For me, (in no particular order) my favorites are those of Beethoven, Schumann, Brahms and Mahler, as these reach the heights of intensity, inspiration and craftsmanship.

Others I love are by Bruckner, Tschaikowsky, Prokofiev, Hindemith and Schostakowitsch.

Tschüß,
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Re: Best "First" symphonies

Post by absinthe » Tue Dec 21, 2010 6:18 am

Walton's.

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Re: Best "First" symphonies

Post by Jack Kelso » Tue Dec 21, 2010 6:57 am

absinthe wrote:Walton's.
Thank you----you just reminded me that I forgot ELGAR'S FIRST. It's one of the major late-Romantic masterpieces.

Tschüß,
Jack
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Re: Best "First" symphonies

Post by Heck148 » Tue Dec 21, 2010 9:18 am

CharmNewton wrote:Tchaikovsky
Yes, that's a wonderful one, also, very near top of my list.
perfect for today - "Winter Dreams" - we just got about 12" of snow!! wet, heavy stuff that is clinging to every tree, branch, wire post, etc...

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Re: Best "First" symphonies

Post by THEHORN » Tue Dec 21, 2010 10:42 am

Nielsen's 1st is a very fine work,and possibly the first to end in a different key from its beginning. Though technically in G minor(the first movement),the finale ends in C major. The first movement also begins with a C major chord,unusual in works in G minor.
This is the first example of Nielsen's so-called "progressive tonality".
Though Mahler used it in his 4th, 5th,7th and 9th symphonies, Nielsen's use of progressive tonality is even bolder and is a feature in virtually all his major works.
Mahler's Resurrection symphony begins in C minor and ends in E flat major, the relative major or C minor.

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Re: Best "First" symphonies

Post by Seán » Tue Dec 21, 2010 11:18 am

Lance wrote:To select just one, I would have to say:

PROKOFIEV: Symphony #1 in D Major, Op. 25 (“Classical”)
Gosh, Haydn revisited. :wink:
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Re: Best "First" symphonies

Post by Seán » Tue Dec 21, 2010 11:19 am

Mahler (one might almost say, "of course")
Berlioz then
Beethoven
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Re: Best "First" symphonies

Post by Seán » Tue Dec 21, 2010 11:26 am

Chalkperson wrote:Mahler, nobody else even comes close...IMHO of course...although some of our other Celtic Members may agree with me... :wink:
This is where I dispense with any notion of my being humble and scream from the rooftops, "RIGHT ON CHALKIE" :)
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Re: Best "First" symphonies

Post by karlhenning » Tue Dec 21, 2010 11:34 am

Rued Langgaard’s first is a blast, possibly outdoes RVW’s A Sea Symphony.

Shostakovich and Nielsen still remain my own favorites, probably.

My vote for Best First Symphony Which Was Not a First Symphony goes easily to the Prokofiev Second. I agree with Lance that the ‘Classical’ is a fine accomplishment, and full worthy its place in the repertory . . . but if we disallow it as an ‘exercise’ in What Would Haydn Do?, and consider the first symphony in Prokofiev’s own full voice . . . the Second is an absolute stunner.

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Re: Best "First" symphonies

Post by Seán » Tue Dec 21, 2010 11:41 am

karlhenning wrote:Rued Langgaard’s first is a blast, possibly outdoes RVW’s A Sea Symphony.

Shostakovich and Nielsen still remain my own favorites, probably.

My vote for Best First Symphony Which Was Not a First Symphony goes easily to the Prokofiev Second. I agree with Lance that the ‘Classical’ is a fine accomplishment, and full worthy its place in the repertory . . . but if we disallow it as an ‘exercise’ in What Would Haydn Do?, and consider the first symphony in Prokofiev’s own full voice . . . the Second is an absolute stunner.

Cheers,
~Karl
I have no Langgard recordings, I will have to rectify that in 2011. Nielsen eh? Prokofiev's Second though, I've always found it "difficult", it requires more effort than most, I must revisit it too. His First is lovely but the best?
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Re: Best "First" symphonies

Post by karlhenning » Tue Dec 21, 2010 11:50 am

Seán wrote:I have no Langgard recordings, I will have to rectify that in 2011.
The supremely obligatory Rued Langgaard score, Seán, is unquestionably Sfærernes Musik (The Music of the Spheres).

But I'm an unrepentant Langgaard enthusiast, and I enjoy each of the 17 symphonies in the Da Capo box; they cover quite a range of tone and style, so only one aspect of them is, they don't ever make themselves tiresome ; )

Cheers,
~Karl
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Re: Best "First" symphonies

Post by Lance » Tue Dec 21, 2010 3:35 pm

Others have mentioned it, but I also believe Beethoven's First Symphony was a major step forward and created a new pathway to creating symphonic writing. Tchaikovsky, too. In many ways, I prefer his 1st, 2nd, and 3rd symphonies more than the last three.
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Re: Best "First" symphonies

Post by RebLem » Tue Dec 21, 2010 3:45 pm

Brahms, Prokofiev, Mahler, Shostakovich, Sibelius, Brian, Schumann, Schubert, Weill, and, of course, Franck and Chausson.
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Re: Best "First" symphonies

Post by Tore » Tue Dec 21, 2010 3:56 pm

Heck148 wrote:This topic has been visited before, IIRC - tho quite some time ago...

there are so many great symphonic composers -

whose "First" symphony is best?? this of course could mean - the greatest, or it could mean - your favorite :)

for me:

Sibelius
Shostakovich
Walton
I am very fond of Ralph Vaughan William's first symphony "A sea symphony". My favourite RVW symphony. This symphony would be great to have on blu-ray.

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Re: Best "First" symphonies

Post by Fergus » Tue Dec 21, 2010 4:31 pm

Mahler
Shostakovich
Sibelius

But if Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastic was allowed then that would go to no. 2.

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Re: Best "First" symphonies

Post by johnQpublic » Tue Dec 21, 2010 5:31 pm

Brahms
Barber
Kalinnikov
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Re: Best "First" symphonies

Post by THEHORN » Tue Dec 21, 2010 6:39 pm

I've always loved Bruckner's 1st,even if it isn't techincally his first considering the so-called symphony no 0 and the early "study" symphony.
I've never been able to understand its neglect. It's by far the shortest of the 9 numbered Bruckner symphonies,about the same length as the 1st of Brahms,and contains all the seeds of the mature composer.
I prefer the original Linz version to the much later Vienna version, but the latter is certainly interestingly different.
I would recommend the Linz version of the 1st to those who think they don't like Bruckner. Chances are they've never heard it.
There have been notable recordings by such eminent Brucknerians as Jochum, Solti,Karajan,Abbado,Chailly,Haitink, Inbal,Skrowaczewski, Barenboim,
Masur, Wand etc, but you almost never hear it live.Too bad.

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Re: Best "First" symphonies

Post by Chalkperson » Wed Dec 22, 2010 12:19 am

Jack Kelso wrote:
absinthe wrote:Walton's.
Thank you----you just reminded me that I forgot ELGAR'S FIRST. It's one of the major late-Romantic masterpieces.

Tschüß,
Jack
I was actually glad to see you had forgotten Elgar's Monolithic and Laboriously (Monotonous) Epic... :wink:
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Re: Best "First" symphonies

Post by Prometheus » Wed Dec 22, 2010 12:21 am

Mahler, Berlioz, Bruckner, Beethoven, Brahms, Kalinnikov.

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Re: Best "First" symphonies

Post by Chalkperson » Wed Dec 22, 2010 12:22 am

karlhenning wrote:
Seán wrote:I have no Langgard recordings, I will have to rectify that in 2011.
The supremely obligatory Rued Langgaard score, Seán, is unquestionably Sfærernes Musik (The Music of the Spheres).

But I'm an unrepentant Langgaard enthusiast, and I enjoy each of the 17 symphonies in the Da Capo box; they cover quite a range of tone and style, so only one aspect of them is, they don't ever make themselves tiresome ; )

Cheers,
~Karl
That's a pretty good place to start, then pretty any of the DeCapo Symphony discs, the thing is, you'll end up wishing you had bought the Box Set...trust me... :wink:
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Re: Best "First" symphonies

Post by Chalkperson » Wed Dec 22, 2010 12:24 am

Prometheus wrote:Mahler, Berlioz, Bruckner, Beethoven, Brahms, Kalinnikov.
Kalinnikov's 1st is excellent, but, it's his only really good work, the Suites are OK, but only just...
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Re: Best "First" symphonies

Post by Prometheus » Wed Dec 22, 2010 12:32 am

Chalkperson wrote:
Prometheus wrote:Mahler, Berlioz, Bruckner, Beethoven, Brahms, Kalinnikov.
Kalinnikov's 1st is excellent, but, it's his only really good work, the Suites are OK, but only just...
The only other work of his I have is the 2nd symphony. It is good, but not like the 1st.

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Re: Best "First" symphonies

Post by Lance » Wed Dec 22, 2010 2:03 am

I'm pleased to see someone mentioned Vasily Kalinnikov's Symphony No. 1 in G Minor. I consider this a masterpiece and far prefer it to his Symphony No. 2 in A Major. Oddly, neither of these symphonies have been oft-recorded, but a couple that do exist—especially of No. 1—are splendid, such as the ones conducted by Kondrashin, Golovanov, and Toscanini. Kalinnikov's life was fairly tragic; he died too young from tuberculosis.
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Re: Best "First" symphonies

Post by stenka razin » Wed Dec 22, 2010 7:33 am

Chalkperson wrote:
Jack Kelso wrote:
absinthe wrote:Walton's.
Thank you----you just reminded me that I forgot ELGAR'S FIRST. It's one of the major late-Romantic masterpieces.

Tschüß,
Jack
I was actually glad to see you had forgotten Elgar's Monolithic and Laboriously (Monotonous) Epic... :wink:

Chalkie, try to hear Sir John Barbirolli lovingly conduct Elgar's great 1st Symphony, my friend. I think you might feel differently about this colossal masterpiece after hearing his heart felt performance. :wink: 8) :D :D :D :D +


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Re: Best "First" symphonies

Post by Seán » Wed Dec 22, 2010 7:46 am

Chalkperson wrote:
karlhenning wrote:
Seán wrote:I have no Langgard recordings, I will have to rectify that in 2011.
The supremely obligatory Rued Langgaard score, Seán, is unquestionably Sfærernes Musik (The Music of the Spheres).

But I'm an unrepentant Langgaard enthusiast, and I enjoy each of the 17 symphonies in the Da Capo box; they cover quite a range of tone and style, so only one aspect of them is, they don't ever make themselves tiresome ; )

Cheers,
~Karl
That's a pretty good place to start, then pretty any of the DeCapo Symphony discs, the thing is, you'll end up wishing you had bought the Box Set...trust me... :wink:
The Dausgaard/DNSO complete set of Langgaard symphonies has been in my Amazon basket for quite some time now, I might get it early in the New Year.
Seán

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Re: Best "First" symphonies

Post by maestrob » Wed Dec 22, 2010 11:57 am

Mahler
Brahms
Walton
Sibelius
Vaughan-Williams
Elgar

All of these show deep originality of thought and are wonderful music.

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Re: Best "First" symphonies

Post by bombasticDarren » Wed Dec 22, 2010 1:44 pm

Beethoven
Berlioz
Franck
Mahler
Prokofiev
Walton

These are the handful that I feel achieve 'greatness' from the first attempt :)
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Re: Best "First" symphonies

Post by MaestroDJS » Fri Dec 24, 2010 3:10 pm

For some reason I've been listening to Hungarian music lately, so here are 3 candidates which date from both very early and very late in their composers' careers. They might not be the best "first" symphonies ever written, but they are very good.

Ernst von Dohnányi (1877-1960): Symphony No 1 in D Minor (1900)
I. Allegro ma non troppo (beginning)
This was Dohnányi's only symphony until 1945 when he completed his Symphony No. 2 in E Major which he revised in 1954-7. Therefore Dohnányi's pair of symphonies span 57 years.



Zoltán Kodály (1882-1967): Symphony in C Major (1960)
This is Kodály's only symphony and final orchestral work, completed when he was 78, probably the latest first symphony by any composer.

Miklós Rózsa (1907-1995): Symphony in Three Movements (1930 / 1993)
Rózsa was 23 when he composed the first version of his symphony, but conductors were reluctant to perform such a vast work by an unknown composer. By the time Rózsa became an established composer, he felt the symphony greatly in need of revision. He carried out some revisions in the 1950s, with a shorter first movement and the scherzo omitted. Then he set it aside again. Eventually in the early 1990s Koch International began an excellent series of recordings of Rózsa's concert orchestral music with James Sedares and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, and the then-86-year-old composer completed his final revisions. Thus 63 (count 'em - 63!) years elapsed from first note to last, and Rózsa lived to hear his Symphony performed and recorded.
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Re: Best "First" symphonies

Post by springrite » Fri Dec 24, 2010 8:56 pm

MaestroDJS wrote:... Rózsa lived to hear his Symphony performed and recorded.

An interesting side note, Rosza may be the only composer to hear every one of his works performed and recorded in his lifetime. How must other composers envy him in that!

PS: But unfortunately I have never heard his Symphony.
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Re: Best "First" symphonies

Post by CharmNewton » Fri Dec 24, 2010 9:57 pm

MaestroDJS wrote:Zoltán Kodály (1882-1967): Symphony in C Major (1960)
This is Kodály's only symphony and final orchestral work, completed when he was 78, probably the latest first symphony by any composer.
According to Wikipedia, he began it in the 1930s.

John

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Re: Best "First" symphonies

Post by springrite » Sat Dec 25, 2010 6:59 am

CharmNewton wrote:
MaestroDJS wrote:Zoltán Kodály (1882-1967): Symphony in C Major (1960)
This is Kodály's only symphony and final orchestral work, completed when he was 78, probably the latest first symphony by any composer.
According to Wikipedia, he began it in the 1930s.

John
But according to Wikileak, he started working on it 1898 when he was 16. :wink:
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Re: Best "First" symphonies

Post by karlhenning » Sat Dec 25, 2010 12:21 pm

springrite wrote:
MaestroDJS wrote:... Rózsa lived to hear his Symphony performed and recorded.
An interesting side note, Rosza may be the only composer to hear every one of his works performed and recorded in his lifetime. How must other composers envy him in that!
I do marvel at his good fortune! May the vice of envy be kept far from my heart : )

Cheers,
~Karl
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Re: Best "First" symphonies

Post by MaestroDJS » Sat Dec 25, 2010 6:28 pm

MaestroDJS wrote:... Rózsa lived to hear his Symphony performed and recorded.
springrite wrote:An interesting side note, Rosza may be the only composer to hear every one of his works performed and recorded in his lifetime. How must other composers envy him in that!

PS: But unfortunately I have never heard his Symphony.
From the Koch International CD 3-7244-2H1:
Miklós Rózsa wrote:It was a moving experience for me to hear the first sounds of my first-born, my Symphony, 60 years after the event! I now see it was a mistake to suppress it, but when one is young — and I was only 23 — one is often unreasonably vulnerable to criticism.

Now Michael Fine, James Sedares and the New Zealand Symphony have brought it to life in a first performance of exemplary fire and passion. In other words they make it sound authentically Hungarian — which was, and always has been, my intention in all my music.

— Miklós Rózsa, Hollywood, November 11, 1993
David Stybr, Personal Assistant and Der Webmeister to Denise Swanson, New York Times Best-Selling Author
http://www.DeniseSwanson.com
~ Devereaux's Dime Store Mysteries ~ Book 2: Nickeled-and-Dimed to Death, March 2013
~ Scumble River Mysteries ~ Book 15: Murder of the Cat's Meow, October 2012
Penguin ~ Obsidian ~ Signet, New York, New York

starrynight
Posts: 48
Joined: Mon Nov 09, 2009 8:30 am

Re: Best "First" symphonies

Post by starrynight » Sun Dec 26, 2010 6:08 pm

I'd put Elgar first, Beethoven second.

hollowman
Posts: 36
Joined: Sat Mar 15, 2008 11:16 am
Location: So. California

Re: Best "First" symphonies

Post by hollowman » Mon Dec 27, 2010 8:16 am

Barber (my #1 no.1, by a long shot): Zinman/Baltimore SO, 1991 Argo
Walton: Colin Davis, LSO, 2005

Ives (a "tribute" to A Dvorak so not too orig. & def, not in same "league" as Barber/Walton as well as the heavyweights you folks note above, but I really like cor anglais!):

hollowman
Posts: 36
Joined: Sat Mar 15, 2008 11:16 am
Location: So. California

Re: Best "First" symphonies

Post by hollowman » Mon Dec 27, 2010 8:41 am

Which Beethoven 1 is best? Of the ones I've heard, Jonathan Del Mar versions by Zinman/Tonhalle seems to be v. good. ( I may in fact prefer the Del Mar/Zinmans for all LVB they've done)

val
Posts: 1039
Joined: Sat Oct 29, 2005 5:46 am
Location: Lisbon

Re: Best "First" symphonies

Post by val » Mon Dec 27, 2010 8:42 am

Favorite: Schumann's First Symphony (Sawallisch, Staatskapelle Dresden).

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