Bruno Walter’s Vienna Farewell Concerto of 1960 = MAHLER Fourth Sym. & 3 Lieder, SCHUBERT Unfinished (Music&Arts)

by | Jun 2, 2005 | Classical Reissue Reviews | 0 comments

Bruno Walter: The Vienna Farewell Concert 29 May 1960 = MAHLER:
Symphony No. 4 in G Major; SCHUBERT: Symphony No. 8 in B Minor
“Unfinished;” MAHLER: 3 Lieder

Elizabeth Schwarzkopf, soprano/Vienna Philharmonic
Music & Arts CD-4705  54:12; 48:25  (Distrib. Albany)****:

The farewell concert by conductor Bruno Walter (1876-1962) and the
Vienna Philharmonic on 29 May 1960 has had prior issue on M&A; this
refurbishing has a warm resonance that would likely have won the
conductor’s approbation. The approach to the Schubert Unfinished is
broad, but within the confines of good taste. The Vienna Philharmonic
string section, under its leader Willi Boskovsky, appears eager to give
breadth to the singing line. The VPO often joked that the players had
their own, prioritized devotion to conductors Weingartner and Walter. A
spirit of reconciliation dominates the proceedings: certainly the
choice of soprano Elizabeth Schwarzkopf to sing Mahler for Walter at
his farewell concert tacitly forgives the singer’s political allegiance
to those National Socialists who unceremoniously escorted Walter and
his love for unwelcome music to the border after the annexation of

The coupling of Walter with the VPO to render Mahler’s pantheistic
Fourth Symphony is felicitous, especially in the expansive treatment of
the Ruhevoll movement, Poco adagio, with its metaphysical urgency.
Schwarzkopf, for all of her poise and diction, never caught the stark
innocence of the heavenly slaughter of innocents as did Teresa
Stich-Randall for Willem van Otterloo, but her diction and
characterization for the Rueckert song, Ich bin der Welt abhanden
gekommen is valedictory and heartfelt. The concert marks the end of a
very special era and the career of its self-styled curator of cultural
taste, Bruno Walter.

–Gary Lemco