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The Chicago Symphony Orchestra has recorded each of Brahms’s four symphonies multiple times and also has recorded the complete cycle on three different occasions. A complete listing is below.

During his tenure as Ravinia Festival music director, James Levine recorded the symphonies with the Orchestra for RCA at Medinah Temple. The recordings were produced by Thomas Z. Shepard and Paul Goodman was the recording engineer. Jay David Saks also co-produced the First Symphony, which was recorded in July 1975. The remaining three were recorded in July 1976.

Eighth music director Sir Georg Solti also led the Orchestra in sessions at Medinah Temple. For London, the four symphonies (along with the Academic Festival and Tragic overtures) were produced by James Mallinson; Kenneth Wilkinson, Colin Moorfoot, and Michael Mailes were the engineers. The Third and Fourth symphonies were recorded in May 1978, and the First and Second were recorded in January 1979. The set won 1979 Grammy awards for Best Classical Album and Best Classical Orchestral Recording from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

Daniel Barenboim, the Orchestra’s ninth music director, recorded the four symphonies (along with the Academic Festival and Tragic overtures and the Variations on a Theme by Haydn) live at Orchestra Hall for Erato. Vic Muenzer was producer, Lawrence Rock was the sound engineer, assisted by Christopher Willis; and Konrad Strauss was the mastering engineer. All four symphonies were recorded live in 1993: the First and Third in May, the Fourth in September, and the Second in October.

Recordings of the individual symphonies by other conductors are listed below.

Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 68

Rafael Kubelík, conductor
Recorded by Mercury in Orchestra Hall in April 1952
David Hall, recording director
C. Robert Fine and George Piros engineers

Günter Wand, conductor
Recorded live for RCA in Orchestra Hall in January 1989
Norman Pellegrini and David Frost, producers
Mitchell Heller, recording engineer
John Purcell, post-production engineer

Symphony No. 3 in F Major, Op. 90

Frederick Stock, conductor
Recorded by Columbia in New York’s Liederkranz Hall in November 1940

Fritz Reiner, conductor
Recorded by RCA in Orchestra Hall in December 1957
Richard Mohr, producer

Symphony No. 4 in E Minor, Op. 98

Carlo Maria Giulini, conductor
Recorded by Angel in Medinah Temple in October 1969
Peter Andry, producer
Carson Taylor, balance engineer

Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra perform Brahms’s four symphonies at Orchestra Hall in May. Details here and here.

This week Riccardo Muti leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Mahler’s First Symphony, almost exactly one hundred years since Frederick Stock first conducted it in Chicago.

Program page for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's first performances of Mahler's First Symphony

Program page for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s first performances of Mahler’s First Symphony

That first performance of the symphony (sandwiched between Handel’s Concerto grosso, op. 6, no. 2 and Schumann’s Piano Concerto with Josef Hofmann) on November 6, 1914, left Ronald Webster of the Chicago Daily Tribune a bit puzzled: “The Mahler symphony is less important but more interesting to talk about because it is strictly earthy. There is a suggestion in the program notes that Mahler was not wholly serious in this symphony. It was obvious yesterday that he was not serious at all. Even the finale is not serious, though it is tiresome, being too long. But it is the quality of the humor which is likely to cause people to turn up their noses. The humor is a little coarse, definitely ironical, of a barnyard kind and healthy. Mahler is himself partly to blame for such ideas about him. Definite conceptions such as his (though he may not have been serious about them either) are death to all mystic attitude toward this work. . . . He suggests that the first movement is nature’s awakening at early morning. One suspects that Mahler included in nature the cows and chickens as well as the cuckoo and the dewy grass.” The complete review is here.

Despite that critic’s early apprehensions, the symphony soon became a staple in the Orchestra’s repertoire and has been led—at Orchestra Hall, the Ravinia Festival, and on tour—by a vast array of conductors, including: Roberto Abbado, Claudio Abbado, Daniel Barenboim, Pierre Boulez, James Conlon, Christoph von Dohnányi, Gustavo Dudamel, Christoph Eschenbach, Adam Fischer, Carlo Maria Giulini, Bernard Haitink, Irwin Hoffman, Paul Kletzki, Kirill Kondrashin, Rafael Kubelík, James Levine, Lorin Maazel, Igor Markevitch, Henry Mazer, Eugene Ormandy, Seiji Ozawa, George Schick, Leonard Slatkin, Sir Georg Solti, William Steinberg, Klaus Tennstedt, Michael Tilson Thomas, Edo de Waart, Bruno Walter, and Jaap van Zweden.

And the Orchestra has recorded the work six times, as follows:

Giulini 1971Carlo Maria Giulini, conductor
Recorded by Angel at Medinah Temple in March 1971
Christopher Bishop, producer
Carson Taylor, engineer
Giulini’s recording won the 1971 Grammy Award for Best Classical Performance—Orchestra from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

Abbado 1981Claudio Abbado, conductor
Recorded by Deutsche Grammophon at Orchestra Hall in February 1981
Rainer Brock, producer
Karl-August Naegler, engineer

Solti 1983Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Recorded by London at Orchestra Hall in October 1983
James Mallinson, producer
James Lock, engineer

Tennstedt 1990Klaus Tennstedt, conductor
Recorded by EMI at Orchestra Hall in May and June 1990
John Fraser, producer
Michael Sheady, engineer

Boulez 1998Pierre Boulez, conductor
Recorded by Deutsche Grammophon at Orchestra Hall in May 1998
Karl-August Naegler, producer
Rainer Maillard and Reinhard Lagemann, engineers

Haitink 2008Bernard Haitink, conductor
Recorded by CSO Resound at Orchestra Hall in May 2008
James Mallinson, producer
Christopher Willis, engineer

For more information on Muti’s performances of Mahler’s First this week, please visit the CSO’s website.

As we count down the days to Giuseppe Verdi‘s 200th birthday and our performance and simulcast of his Requiem led by Riccardo Muti, here are all of the recordings of the work by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus.

Our eighth music director, Sir Georg Solti, was the first to commercially record Verdi’s Requiem. The work was recorded in Medinah Temple on June 1 and 2, 1977.

Solti

1977 – Sir Georg Solti

The soloists were Leontyne Price, soprano; Janet Baker, mezzo-soprano; Veriano Luchetti, tenor; and José van Dam, bass-baritone. The Chicago Symphony Chorus was prepared by Margaret Hillis.

Thomas Z. Shepard produced the recording, and Paul Goodman was the engineer for RCA (this was one of the few records Solti made independent of London/Decca). The recording won the 1977 Grammy Award for Best Choral Performance (other than opera) from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

Barenboim

1993 – Daniel Barenboim

Ninth music director Daniel Barenboim led recording sessions for Verdi’s Requiem on September 20 and 21, 1993, in Orchestra Hall.

Soloists included Alessandra Marc, soprano; Waltraud Meier, mezzo-soprano; Plácido Domingo, tenor; and Ferruccio Furlanetto, bass. The Chicago Symphony Chorus was prepared by Margaret Hillis.

Martin Sauer produced the recording; Jean Chatauret was the sound engineer, assisted by Christopher Willis; and Martine Guers was the editor for Erato.

In his first concerts at the CSO’s music director designate, Riccardo Muti led performances of Verdi’s Requiem at Orchestra Hall on January 15, 16, and 17, 2009. The performances were recorded live for CSO Resound.

Muti

2009 – Riccardo Muti

The soloists were Barbara Frittoli, soprano; Olga Borodina, mezzo-soprano; Mario Zeffiri, tenor; and Ildar Abdrazakov, bass. The Chicago Symphony Chorus was prepared by Duain Wolfe.

Christopher Adler produced the recording, and Christopher Willis was the recording engineer. David Frost and Tom Lazarus did the mixing, and Frost and Silas Brown performed the stereo mastering. The recording won 2010 Grammy Awards for Best Classical Album and Best Choral Performance from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

But wait, there’s more . . .

Fritz Reiner, the CSO’s sixth music director, led performances of the Requiem at Orchestra Hall on April 3 and 4, 1958. Soloists included Leonie Rysanek, soprano; Regina Resnik, mezzo-soprano; David Lloyd, tenor; and Giorgio Tozzi, bass. The Chicago Symphony Chorus—in their second subscription concert appearances—was prepared by Margaret Hillis.

The March 4 performance was recorded for radio broadcast and since then, it has surfaced on a variety of unauthorized releases. An Italian release on Melodram in 1986 even mistakenly labeled the LP jacket as “Orchestra e Coro: Chicago Lyric Opera.” Most recently, we have seen it on a CD release from Archipel. Unfortunately, the sound quality on both is not great, even though it does provide an interesting snapshot of Reiner’s interpretation of the work, not to mention the sound of a very young Chicago Symphony Chorus.

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