Schubert's Fantasy in C, D 934 - Recommended Recordings

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ayevey
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Schubert's Fantasy in C, D 934 - Recommended Recordings

Post by ayevey » Fri Jan 10, 2014 12:46 pm

Hi y'all.

I am wondering if anyone has any recommended recordings of Schubert's Fantasy for Violin and Piano in C, D 934.

I own and enjoy the versions by Kremer/Afanassiev, Goldberg/Lupu, Stern/Barenboim, Oistrakh/Yampolsky, and Shiokawa/Schiff. I have also heard Heifetz/Smith, which I truly disliked.

I have heard that there is a Busch/Serkin recording, and in fact found two: one from 1931 on EMI, and another from 1946 on Music & Arts. Serkin is one of my most beloved pianists, and as I have not heard either of these recordings, I would appreciate comments on those familiar with them, as well as recommendations from any others you folks might recommend.

Thanks!

John F
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Re: Schubert's Fantasy in C, D 934 - Recommended Recordings

Post by John F » Fri Jan 10, 2014 2:09 pm

It's not a favorite piece of mine, and the only recording I have is by Johanna Martzy and Jean Antonietti - not very attractive. Of the recordings you mention, the one I'd most like to hear is the 1930s one by Adolf Busch and Rudolf Serkin; by the end of World War II, Busch's tone had lost some of its quality. I see that Busch/Serkin can be downloaded from http://schubert.eavb.co.uk, and I think I'll do that.
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Ted Quanrud
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Re: Schubert's Fantasy in C, D 934 - Recommended Recordings

Post by Ted Quanrud » Fri Jan 10, 2014 4:18 pm

Agree with John F. -- it's not my favorite Schubert. Only recording I have is on Arabesque with violinist Mark Kaplan and pianist David Golub, who do a nice job.

barney
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Re: Schubert's Fantasy in C, D 934 - Recommended Recordings

Post by barney » Fri Jan 10, 2014 5:16 pm

Now there's a fascinating piece of arcana. I went to my catalogue, which I found has 1993 listings for works by Schubert (with a couple of hundred songs yet to be added) but only one of D934. I realised that I barely know it, so I am going to play it today, and thanks for drawing it into the forefront of my mind.
For what it's worth, that version is by Ulf Hoelscher vln, Karl Engel pno

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Re: Schubert's Fantasy in C, D 934 - Recommended Recordings

Post by ContrapunctusIX » Fri Jan 10, 2014 5:35 pm

I have several recordings of this work:

Goldberg-Lupu on Decca
Fischer-Helmschen on Pentatone
Koh-Uchida on Cedille

Of the three, I prefer the Goldberg-Lupu performance (the twofer CD it's on also includes Gendron-Francaix performing the Arpeggione Sonata, which is also lovely.) I don't listen to it much; it's a somewhat lightweight work compared to, say, the G major quartet, but it's still a lovely piece of music, full of charming melodies as one might expect from a tunesmith like Schubert.

I, too, will listen to this later tonight.

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Re: Schubert's Fantasy in C, D 934 - Recommended Recordings

Post by Chalkperson » Fri Jan 10, 2014 5:38 pm

Lupu - Goldberg gets my vote...
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Re: Schubert's Fantasy in C, D 934 - Recommended Recordings

Post by slofstra » Fri Jan 10, 2014 9:08 pm

There is a version with Katia Lebeque and Viktoria Mullova. Unfortunately all my CDs are still in boxes after a recent move, so I can't give it a whirl. I do remember that the lead piece on this recording, Stravinsky's Suite Italienne, is excellent. And Schubert's Fantasy is bound to be a good performance with those two.

Ricordanza
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Re: Schubert's Fantasy in C, D 934 - Recommended Recordings

Post by Ricordanza » Sat Jan 11, 2014 8:26 am

I'll add one more version to the mix: Zino Francescatti and Eugenio Bagnoli, on a Columbia LP. But I can't say much about it; although my impression was positive (and I never heard a recording by Francescatti that I didn't like), it has been many years since I listened to this LP.

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Re: Schubert's Fantasy in C, D 934 - Recommended Recordings

Post by Lance » Sun Jan 12, 2014 4:10 pm

Unquestionably, the Decca [466.748, 2 CDs] Goldberg/Lupu is among the best I've ever heard on discs. Another contrasting version is performed by Joseph Szigeti with Andor Foldes at the piano [Sony 52538]. Stern/Barenboim recorded it [Sony 44504]; and Gidon Kremer recorded Schubert's violin works on DGG [469.837, 4 CDs]. Violinist Pamela Frank recorded the work with her father, Claude, for Arte Nova [721820] which also was a superb performance. BBC Legends has it with Yehudi Menuhin and Benjamin Britten at the piano [4083]. Legendary violinist Ricardo Odnoposoff recorded it on the Berlin label with Eduard Mrazek [0031992]. However, David Oistrakh fairs high with me too, with pianist Vladimir Yampolsky at the piano [Brilliant boxed set 9056, 20 discs, but well worth it!]. My impressions at any rate. There are now over 60 performances of this work on records! I have all those mentioned above and then some, and truly enjoy most of the recordings.
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barney
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Re: Schubert's Fantasy in C, D 934 - Recommended Recordings

Post by barney » Sun Jan 12, 2014 9:05 pm

Welcome back, Lance. What a musical polymath you are!

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Re: Schubert's Fantasy in C, D 934 - Recommended Recordings

Post by Lance » Wed Jan 15, 2014 3:02 am

It's my pleasure to be back! Thank you for the welcome. It's good to get my brain back working on stuff CMG! I'm still trying to find time to listen to my REINER Edition. The only thing I'm sorry about is that Sony did not give us a COMLPLETE Reiner box, which would have included some RCA material never reissued on CD (with other than the Chicago Symphony), and any recordings he made for Columbia. Perhaps a sequel will come forth. Reiner is still hot amongst record collectors, and certainly is with yours truly!

barney wrote:Welcome back, Lance. What a musical polymath you are!
Lance G. Hill
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______________________________________________________

When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

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ayevey
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Re: Schubert's Fantasy in C, D 934 - Recommended Recordings

Post by ayevey » Wed Jan 15, 2014 3:12 pm

Lance wrote:It's my pleasure to be back! Thank you for the welcome. It's good to get my brain back working on stuff CMG! I'm still trying to find time to listen to my REINER Edition. The only thing I'm sorry about is that Sony did not give us a COMLPLETE Reiner box, which would have included some RCA material never reissued on CD (with other than the Chicago Symphony), and any recordings he made for Columbia. Perhaps a sequel will come forth. Reiner is still hot amongst record collectors, and certainly is with yours truly!

barney wrote:Welcome back, Lance. What a musical polymath you are!

Thanks for your comments, Lance, and for having me on the site.

Incidentally, I recently purchased the Reiner set myself and have been quite literally basking in all of its artistic and aural glory. The acquisition coincided with my first serious investment in a good speaker/receiver setup, such that I can truly enjoy the great accomplishments of maestro, musicians, and engineers in high fidelity sound.

I am too young to have lived in an era where Reiner was a household name, so my discovery of his interpretive genius was the product of my self-guided record collecting. In this case, the purchase took overcoming the many negative comments I found regarding Reiner's artistry (not helped by the ubiquitous scowl he wears in every photo of him I encountered), namely that his disciplinarian approach elicited a cold or unfeeling musicality from the CSO. I couldn't disagree more. A lifelong devotee of Szell, and, incidentally a former military man, I believe that Hemingway had it right when he said that discipline is kindness. In the case of this music, it is clear that the stringent demands Reiner placed on his orchestra enabled them to produce the most exquisitely focused and cohesive recreation of every piece they played - at least so far as what I've heard yet (I'm about a third into the set).

As a case in point, their version of Pictures at an Exhibition is so vibrant and incisive that it elevates what I usually feel to be a mere showpiece to the status of a masterly work of art, revealing a too oft glossed-over score's true potential.

I won't say every recording would constitute my first choice interpretively, but the integrity of musicianship is a refreshing source of constant enjoyment across a surprisingly broad and eclectic repertoire.

I look forward to your comments when you do get a chance to delve into this wonderful set.

John F
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Re: Schubert's Fantasy in C, D 934 - Recommended Recordings

Post by John F » Thu Jan 16, 2014 5:15 am

Kindness is a quality that nobody could possibly attribute to Fritz Reiner. :) I'm a former military man too, and know that discipline enforced by fear is not the only nor the most effective kind. James Levine's achievement with the Metropolitan Opera's orchestra, a pretty ragtag band when he became its principal conductor in 1972, is one of many counter-examples. Another is the Vienna Philharmonic, which hasn't had a chief conductor since 1933, nor in its other form as the Vienna State Opera's orchestra from 1991 to 2002. It's through tradition and esprit de corps that the Philharmonic has maintained its status as one of the world's great orchestras, for some of us the greatest of all.

All this said, there's no denying Reiner's and the orchestra's achievement, and in repertoire that suited his essentially humorless temperament, he made some fine recordings. None of them are my choice for the repertoire; I want more than just virtuosity and brilliance. Chacun a son gout.
John Francis

mikealdren
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Re: Schubert's Fantasy in C, D 934 - Recommended Recordings

Post by mikealdren » Thu Jan 16, 2014 8:28 am

Unlike John and Ted, I do like the Fantasy very much and consider it much his finest work for Violin and Piano. I've got a few recordings, Heifetz, Kogan, Kremer(*2) and Martzy but Oistrakh with Yampolski or Bauer are the best I have heard, he played it quite a lot, obviously liked it and it shows. Typically of Oistrakh, he spins out the long lines beautifully.

I didn't know that Mullova has recorded it and I really must hear the Goldberg after Lance's recommendation - thanks

Mike

ayevey
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Re: Schubert's Fantasy in C, D 934 - Recommended Recordings

Post by ayevey » Thu Jan 16, 2014 9:16 am

John F wrote:Kindness is a quality that nobody could possibly attribute to Fritz Reiner. :) I'm a former military man too, and know that discipline enforced by fear is not the only nor the most effective kind. James Levine's achievement with the Metropolitan Opera's orchestra, a pretty ragtag band when he became its principal conductor in 1972, is one of many counter-examples. Another is the Vienna Philharmonic, which hasn't had a chief conductor since 1933, nor in its other form as the Vienna State Opera's orchestra from 1991 to 2002. It's through tradition and esprit de corps that the Philharmonic has maintained its status as one of the world's great orchestras, for some of us the greatest of all.

All this said, there's no denying Reiner's and the orchestra's achievement, and in repertoire that suited his essentially humorless temperament, he made some fine recordings. None of them are my choice for the repertoire; I want more than just virtuosity and brilliance. Chacun a son gout.
Hi John,

I'm sure you realize what Hemingway meant. In some situations, it is kindness to push a collective unit to a level of achievement the individuals it comprises could not have imagined possible. It is kindness not in the sense of making them feel warm and fuzzy inside, but in the sense of empowering them to go past where their brain is telling them their body cannot go on, because the brain tends to sell us quite short of our true capacity.

All I know of Reiner is through the anecdotes I have read, and they all seem to concur that he was less than pleasant to downright nasty. While that may be, the music he brought out of his orchestra speaks for itself. The level of virtuosity is, as you point out, the primary virtue, but what I meant to express in my previous post was my surprise to find a level of interpretive depth I could never call cold or unfeeling.

True, the readings are as far afield as could be from Bruno Walter's mystical sound of musical brotherhood, but that is the beauty of recreative art: it allows for many approaches that yield varied conceptions, any of which, to my mind, may be valid if it can elicit conviction among 100 players, whether the interpretation is one's first choice or not.

Personally, I was refreshed to discover what I find to be a beautiful sound and spirit coming out of such a harsh drillmaster's approach. It certainly was not what I'd expected.

Cheers!

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Re: Schubert's Fantasy in C, D 934 - Recommended Recordings

Post by lennygoran » Thu Jan 16, 2014 10:13 am

barney wrote:I realised that I barely know it, so I am going to play it today, and thanks for drawing it into the forefront of my mind.
Barney I discovered I had this work but I don't think I ever played it--well I got inspired too and now I've played it--very pleasant!

I have
SCHUBERT:
Fantasie C-Dur D 934 /
Denes Zsigmondy, Violine /
Anneliese Nissen, Klavier /

I found this description by Roy Brewer--I go for light and easy going stuff!

"This easygoing, mainly lighthearted work makes it an exception to the despair and rejection that haunts many of the compositions Schubert wrote in 1828, the last year of his short life. Indeed, it can easily be imagined that in all seven movements the composer was consciously seeking the approval of the notoriously fickle Viennese musical public. Schubert's natural fluency, succulent melodies and elaborate figuration are well-displayed; nevertheless, after its first performance the work -- which lasts approximately 25 minutes -- earned only a sour comment from one critic: that it "occupied rather too much of the time the Viennese are prepared to devote to the pleasures of the mind."

The striking opening Adagio makes free use of the sounds and idioms of traditional gypsy music, the piano capturing the tremolando of the Hungarian cimbalom (a sort of hammered dulcimer) while the violin swoops and pirouettes around it in extravagant arabesques. The Fantasia adopts a plan remarkably similar to that of the better-known (and, let it be said, more profound) Wanderer Fantasy for solo piano. In the third section Schubert again makes use his own song "Sei mir gegrüsst," and its inclusion lifts the work onto an altogether higher plane. As with much of Schubert's chamber music, the harmonic scheme is complex, oscillating in strange ways around the keys of C major (in which the work begins and ends) A major, A minor, and the softly glowing A flat major."

http://www.allmusic.com/composition/fan ... 0002359251

Regards, Len

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Re: Schubert's Fantasy in C, D 934 - Recommended Recordings

Post by John F » Thu Jan 16, 2014 10:41 am

Actually, I didn't know the Hemingway quotation and have no idea what he meant, but now you've explained what you mean, which is to the point. We disagree fundamentally on what kindness is; I'll take the dictionary definition, "the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate," with such synonyms as "warmheartedness, affection, warmth, gentleness, concern, care." None of which applies Reiner's relations with any of the musicians he worked with. But all this is more or less irrelevant to the actual musical results, so I think we might as well let it drop.

When I say I want more from a musician than Reiner gives, I'm talking about individuality, interpretive imagination, ideas about the music, whether in the overall expressive character of a performance or in details such as phrasing, balances, rubato (seemingly anathema to Reiner) and other nuances, and such. Not just a reading of the score, however precise and brilliant, but finding one's own way to the heart of the music as one understands it. This is what I think of as "interpretive depth," and what Reiner's recordings mostly lack, to my ears anyway. If it weren't for the distinctive character of some of the Chicago players, such as trumpeter Adolph Herseth (hired years before Reiner came to Chicago), many of Reiner's recordings would be all but anonymous. But I haven't listened to them all, and if there are any in which he goes beyond a come scritto reading of the music to put his personal stamp on it, I'd be interested to hear them.
John Francis

ayevey
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Re: Schubert's Fantasy in C, D 934 - Recommended Recordings

Post by ayevey » Thu Jan 16, 2014 11:09 am

John F wrote:Actually, I didn't know the Hemingway quotation and have no idea what he meant, but now you've explained what you mean, which is to the point. We disagree fundamentally on what kindness is; I'll take the dictionary definition, "the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate," with such synonyms as "warmheartedness, affection, warmth, gentleness, concern, care." None of which applies Reiner's relations with any of the musicians he worked with. But all this is more or less irrelevant to the actual musical results, so I think we might as well let it drop.

When I say I want more from a musician than Reiner gives, I'm talking about individuality, interpretive imagination, ideas about the music, whether in the overall expressive character of a performance or in details such as phrasing, balances, rubato (seemingly anathema to Reiner) and other nuances, and such. Not just a reading of the score, however precise and brilliant, but finding one's own way to the heart of the music as one understands it. This is what I think of as "interpretive depth," and what Reiner's recordings mostly lack, to my ears anyway. If it weren't for the distinctive character of some of the Chicago players, such as trumpeter Adolph Herseth (hired years before Reiner came to Chicago), many of Reiner's recordings would be all but anonymous. But I haven't listened to them all, and if there are any in which he goes beyond a come scritto reading of the music to put his personal stamp on it, I'd be interested to hear them.
John,

I find this discussion enlightening. You make a good point that Hemingway uses kindness with considerable poetic license, i.e. in a non-literal sense. I realize now that his meaning simply spoke to me naturally, but that this is not something I should take for granted when presenting it to others.

Regarding what you deem a lack of personality in Reiner's interpretations, I have to admit that I am a mere dilettante who experiences music through my ears, not so much through following the score. What I hear is a clarity that generally I find refreshing, though I agree it is not always appropriate, even if the results are never less than impressive technically. For instance, I did not warm to Reiner's reading of Brahms's 3rd. On the other hand, though, I found his Tchaikovsky Pathetique a nice change from the heart-on-sleeve romanticism to which it is usually subjected. I don't know which way the composer meant for it to be played, but I myself enjoyed hearing that "you can play it that way too," to quote Brahms.

I'd be interested in getting input from others here on Reiner and his recordings. Seeing that this discussion is off topic for the post at hand, would you be opposed to my starting a new post on this topic, quoting from our discussion thus far?

Best,
David

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Re: Schubert's Fantasy in C, D 934 - Recommended Recordings

Post by John F » Thu Jan 16, 2014 5:05 pm

For sure, Reiner's Victor recordings with the Chicago Symphony give you an exceptionally clear account of the music, more so than you'd usually hear in the concert hall without the benefit of multiple microphones and a sound engineer riding gain. And I'm certainly not saying that Reiner's interpretations are bad!

Just to give you an example of the something extra that I've been talking about, here's a wartime performance of Mozart's Symphony #39 by the Berlin Philharmonic conducted by Furtwängler. Possibly influenced by what was going on in the world around him, but I think also taking seriously the expressive implications of the score, he brings a note of tragic violence to the introduction - this is after all by the man who composed "Don Giovanni" the previous year - then turning the closing bars into a drawn-out lament which is soothed by the allegro that follows. This is not the only way I want to hear this music, but after it, I'm afraid more conventional performances can seem underplayed.



This is not the only way I want to hear this music, but after it, I'm afraid more conventional performances can seem underplayed. Such as this telecast by Reiner and the Chicago Symphony, in which there is nothing to which I would object, but nothing that any number of other conductors haven't done.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vhMcZlzdCbU

For what it's worth.
John Francis

barney
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Re: Schubert's Fantasy in C, D 934 - Recommended Recordings

Post by barney » Thu Jan 16, 2014 5:17 pm

lennygoran wrote: Barney I discovered I had this work but I don't think I ever played it--well I got inspired too and now I've played it--very pleasant!
I got sidetracked as so often. Perhaps today. After I've listened to the Furtwangler link John just posted!

lennygoran
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Re: Schubert's Fantasy in C, D 934 - Recommended Recordings

Post by lennygoran » Thu Jan 16, 2014 8:04 pm

barney wrote: I got sidetracked as so often. Perhaps today. After I've listened to the Furtwangler link John just posted!
Barney I constantly get side-tracked--still the Schubert was quite enjoyable and in another thread there was talk about Liadov--very good imo! Regards, Len

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Re: Schubert's Fantasy in C, D 934 - Recommended Recordings

Post by Ricordanza » Wed Jan 22, 2014 10:06 am

John F wrote:It's not a favorite piece of mine
Evidently, it's also not a favorite of Philadelphia Inquirer critic David Patrick Stearns. Here's an excerpt from his review of a recital by violinist Isabelle Faust and pianist Alexander Melnikov:
And nothing the players could do could minimize the windiness of Schubert's Fantasy in C Major. In the extensive, third-movement variations on the song "Sei mir gegrusst," you sensed the performers would have been happy to stick with the song rather than its loopy reiterations.
Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/entertainm ... zOItV1T.99
Well, today's a snow day, so it's a good opportunity to make up my own mind. I'll dust off my Francescatti LP and report back.

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