The Cleveland Orchestra
Compact Disc Edition
Cleveland Orchestra TC093-75 (ten CDs), $195.00 ($180.00 plus $15.00 handling surcharge). Not available in stores . CODE: CVL-1
The United States hardly took part in giving rise to the symphony, but it has given rise to more great symphony orchestras than any other nation, and none of them is greater than the Cleveland. Its history and triumphs can be traced through this grand collection of performances under all its music directors, none of them available elsewhere. The orchestra was founded in 1918; its first top conductor, Nikolai Sokoloff, was Russian-born but Yale-trained, and he is represented here by a confident 1928 recording of Rachmaninoff’s Second Symphony. He was followed by Artur Rodzinski, Erich Leinsdorf, and then, from 1946 to 1970, the Hungarian-born George Szell, a superstar in the galaxy of great musicians that Hitler and World War II sent permanently to America. The Szell years at Cleveland were among the greatest for any orchestra ever, and they are here on four of the ten discs, which offer up, among other riches, a truly stunning Sibelius Second and a powerful live performance of Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde . Szell was followed by Pierre Boulez; Lorin Maazel, the orchestra’s first American-bred music director; and, for the past ten years, Christoph von Dohnányi. Among Dohnányi’s contributions here is the fierce, blaring fifteen-minute masterpiece Sun-treader by the Vermont composer Carl Ruggles. The handsome set includes a generous book with articles on the orchestra in all its eras, full notes, and complete texts.