Solti Week on Symphony @ 7 Continues With Brahms
The 100th birth anniversary celebration of conductor Georg Solti continues this evening with the Fourth Symphony of Johannes Brahms from a widely admired set of all four symphonies he recorded in the late 1970s with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for Decca Records.
Solti, who was born in Hungary in 1912, knew from the age of 12 that he wanted to be a conductor after hearing Erich Kleiber lead an orchestra in Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. Though he began by studying the piano and chamber music, it was the conductor’s podium that he wanted make his calling.
Interestingly, he began his long association with Decca in 1947, not as a conductor, but as a piano accompanist playing Brahms’ First Violin Sonata with violinist Georg Kulenkampff. Here’s a little bit of that recording:
Later that same year he made his first orchestral recording, which he later said is better forgotten, conducting Beethoven’s Egmont Overture. But it was in 1949 in London with the London Philharmonic Orchestra that he first gained notice for his conducting in a recording of Haydn’s Drum Roll Symphony produced by John Culshaw. The Gramophone review at the time said the performance, “… is remarkable for rhythmic playing, richness of tone, and clarity of execution.”
Those qualities became hallmarks of Solti’s conducting style evident in his many recordings to come, including those he made with the Chicago Symphony after becoming its music director in 1969.
You’ll get to hear a good example of the vintage Decca analog sound and Georg Solti’s interpretation of Brahms Symphony No. 4 in E minor when you tune in this evening for Symphony @ 7 on Classical 101. Meanwhile, here’s Solti and Chicago for a little of Brahms’s First: