Conductor David Zinman’s recordings of the Schumann symphonies with the Tonhalle Orchestra have affected me in a very personal way. I was not always captivated by these works, but working with David on them completely changed my view. In these recordings, he truly re-evaluates what Schumann actually wrote, and also shows a willingness to explore areas that others simply take as read, such as the tempos and the thickness of the orchestration. There’s a great freshness and sincerity here.
Mahler seems to have become such a personal statement for conductors and so we have many great symphony cycle recordings. But I always come back to Claudio Abbado’s recording of Symphonies Nos 2 & 4 with the Chicago Symphony and Vienna Philharmonic orchestras. What a privilege to have mezzo-sopranos Marilyn Horne and Frederica von Stade singing in them – it’s like an all-star cast of its time! Abbado’s Mahler conducting always has this very generous overall arc to it, as he doesn’t stop to smell all the flowers along the way.
I grew up with a cassette tape of George Szell conducting the Cleveland Orchestra in Richard Strauss’s Don Juan, Till Eulenspiegel and Tod und Verklärung. Szell clearly had such a personal relationship with this music and, while there’s an almost inhuman precision in there, it’s never at
fresh approach: conductor David Zinman sheds new light on Schumann