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CD Review

Eugen Jochum

DGG 4796314

Complete Recordings, Vol. 1 - Orchestral Works

  • Ludwig van Beethoven:
  • Symphony #1 in C Major, Op. 21 2
  • Symphony #2 in D Major, Op. 36 3
  • Symphony #3 in E Flat Major 'Eroica', Op. 55 3
  • Symphony #4 in B Flat Major, Op. 60 (two versions) 3
  • Symphony #5 in C minor, Op. 67 2
  • Symphony #6 in F Major 'Pastoral', Op. 68 3
  • Symphony #7 in A Major, Op. 92 3
  • Symphony #8 in F Major, Op. 93 3
  • Symphony #9 in D minor 'Choral', Op. 125 2,10,19
  • Fidelio, Op. 72 (Overture) 2
  • Leonore Overture #2, Op. 72a 3
  • The Creatures of Prometheus, Op. 43 (Overture) 2
  • The Ruins of Athens, Op. 113 (Overture) 2
  • Piano Concerto #1 in C Major, Op. 15 9,17
  • Piano Concerto #2 in B Flat Major, Op. 19 9,17
  • Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 61 (two versions) 3,14
  • Johannes Brahms:
  • Symphony #1 in C minor, Op. 68 3
  • Symphony #2 in D Major, Op. 73 3
  • Symphony #3 in F Major, Op. 90 3
  • Symphony #4 in E minor, Op. 98 3
  • Variations on a Theme by Haydn in B Flat Major, Op. 56a 8
  • Piano Concerto #1 in D minor, Op. 15 3,16
  • Piano Concerto #2 in B Flat Major, Op. 83 3,16
  • Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 77 9,13
  • Anton Bruckner:
  • Symphony #1 in C minor 3
  • Symphony #2 in C minor 2
  • Symphony #3 in D minor (plus rehearsal) 2
  • Symphony #4 in E Flat Major 'Romantic' 2,3
  • Symphony #5 in B Flat Major 2
  • Symphony #6 in A Major 2
  • Symphony #7 in E Major (two versions) 3
  • Symphony #8 in C minor 3,6
  • Symphony #9 in D minor 2,3
  • Edward Elgar: Variations on an Original Theme 'Enigma', Op. 36 8
  • George Frideric Handel: Organ Concerto, Op. 4 #4 2, 18
  • Franz Joseph Haydn:
  • Symphony #88 in G Major, Hob I: 88 3
  • Symphony #91 in E Flat Major, Hob I: 91 2
  • Symphony #93 in D Major, Hob I: 93 8
  • Symphony #94 in G Major 'Surprise', Hob I: 94 8
  • Symphony #95 in C minor, Hob I: 95 8
  • Symphony #96 in D Major 'Miracle', Hob I: 96 8
  • Symphony #97 in C Major, Hob I: 97 8
  • Symphony #98 in B Flat Major, Hob I: 98 3,8
  • Symphony #99 in E Flat Major, Hob I: 99 8
  • Symphony #100 in G Major 'Military', Hob I: 100 8
  • Symphony #101 in D Major 'Clock', Hob I: 101 8
  • Symphony #102 in B Flat Major, Hob I: 102 8
  • Symphony #103 in E Flat Major "Drumroll", Hob I: 103 2,8
  • Symphony #104 in D Major 'London', Hob I: 104 8
  • Karl Hőller:
  • Symphonic Fantasy on a Theme by Frescobaldi, Op 20 2
  • Sweelinck Variations, Op. 56 2
  • Gustav Mahler: Das Lied von der Erde 5,11
  • Wolfgang Mozart:
  • Symphony #33 in B Flat Major, K. 319 2
  • Symphony #36 in C Major 'Linz', K. 425 2
  • Symphony #39 in E Flat Major, K. 543 2
  • Symphony #40 in G minor, K. 550 2
  • Symphony #41 in C Major 'Jupiter', K. 551 4
  • Serenade #10 in B Flat Major 'Gran Partita', K. 361 2
  • Serenade #13 in G Major 'Eine kleine Nachtmusik', K. 525 1
  • Violin Concerto #4 in D Major, K. 218 1,12
  • Le nozze di Figaro (March & Fandango) 2
  • Franz Schubert:
  • Symphony #5 in B Flat Major, D. 485 2
  • Symphony #8 in B minor 'Unfinished', D. 759 4
  • Symphony #9 in C Major 'Great', D. 944 2
  • Robert Schumann: Piano Concerto in A Major, Op. 54 3,15
  • Jean Sibelius:
  • The Tempest, Op. 109 #1 (Prelude) 2
  • The Oceanides, Op. 73 2
  • Night Ride and Sunrise, Op. 55 2
  • Richard Strauss:
  • Don Juan, Op. 20 5
  • Til Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche 5
  • Der Rosenkavalier, Op. 59 (Act III Waltz) 3
  • Schlagobers, Op. 70 (Waltz) 3
  • Richard Wagner:
  • Lohengrin (Preludes to Act I & 3) 3
  • Parsifal (Prelude & Good Friday Music) 2
  • Carl Maria von Weber: Oberon (Overture) 3
10 Clara Ebers, soprano
10 Gertrude Pitzinger, contralto
10 Walther Ludwig, tenor
10 Ferdinand Frantz, bass
11 Nan Merriman, mezzo-soprano
11 Ernst Haefliger, tenor
12 Johanna Martzy, violin
13 Nathan Milstein, violin
14 Wolfgang Schneiderhan, violin
15 Monique Haas, piano
16 Emil Gilels, piano
17 Maurizio Pollini, piano
18 Michael Schneider, organ
19 Bavarian Radio Choir
1 Bavarian Radio Chamber Orchestra/Eugen Jochum
2 Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra/Eugen Jochum
3 Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra/Eugen Jochum
4 Boston Symphony Orchestra/Eugen Jochum
5 Concertgebouw Orchestra/Eugen Jochum
6 Hamburg Philharmonic State Orchestra/Eugen Jochum
7 London Philharmonic Orchestra/Eugen Jochum
8 London Symphony Orchestra/Eugen Jochum
9 Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra/Eugen Jochum
Deutsche Grammophon 4796314 42CDs
Find it at AmazonFind it at Amazon UKFind it at Amazon GermanyFind it at Amazon CanadaFind it at Amazon FranceFind it at Amazon Japan

There are a lot of complaints in the first few paragraphs, so I want to say clearly that this is an absolutely wonderful box. For the first time, Deutsche Grammophon gathers all the orchestral recordings with Eugen Jochum originally released on the label. That means that items licensed to the Yellow Label aren't here, so no Bamberg Strauss from Orfeo, even though it appeared in the orchestra's tribute box set. However, Das Lied von der Erde takes its rightful place among symphonic works, and all multiple versions of works are included. Essentially, this box takes the 16-disc Universal Italy set – Beethoven, Bruckner, and Brahms – and adds the rest, in original jackets.

Before I get to the music, here are the promised complaints. The symphonic cycles of Beethoven, Brahms and Bruckner are in original jackets…sort of. These 16 discs are lazily packaged with the LP box set covers. It infuriated some Amazon customers to such a degree that they regretted their purchase, and while I refuse to be quite that dramatic, I would have much preferred the original covers for the lot of them. Secondly, to put the Brahms concertos in a double "LP" set, the Piano Concertos are now spread across two discs. This is irritating and was completely avoidable. This was not done for the 'Originals's Series, and unless you are pining for the days of manual side-flipping, I doubt you will approve. Finally, long-time collectors may not need this set at all, since Jochum has been unusually well served on disc by Deutsche Grammophon (but not Philips or EMI/Warner) and there's very little that's new. A second Beethoven Symphony #4 appears for the first time (which, as in the complete cycle was also made in Berlin), as well as some short pieces. As far as I am aware, the rehearsal of Bruckner's Symphony #3 is also new, but this is very much a niche item.

The three symphonic cycles that dominate those first 16 discs are arguably inferior to the conductor's later efforts on EMI/Warner. This is especially true of the Beethoven, which is a monophonic/stereo hybrid featuring neither the Bavarian or Berlin forces in top shape. The same applies to a lesser degree in Bruckner, where only the Fourth and Eighth audibly surpass Jochum's Dresden cycle (Warner, again). Again, it's a Bavarian/Berlin mix here, and although hardcore Bruckner fans almost always tout the later set, I am happy to own both. They are both special. Finally, I've already called this early 50's cycle of Brahms the best-ever in Berlin. I stand by that, though the London Philharmonic cycle is also one of the greatest ever (easily the abest with that orchestra), and in better sound.

Everything else in the box is a testament to great conducting. All the Haydn – including two each of #98 and #103 – remain top recommendations. You get the complete London Symphonies, the two duplicates mentioned above, and Symphonies #88 and 91. These are all highly prized, especially those outside the London set. Sure, the Sibelius is nothing special by today's standards, but it's rare music even now and it fills a unique gap in the Jochum discography. Karl Hőller is forgotten, and on evidence here, he can stay that way. But the Mozart is wonderful, even when the monophonic sound isn't. Having no real claim as a Mahler conductor, the Das Lied is unique and compelling. And the master of theatre is at his best in the Wagner excerpts. The disc of variations (Brahms and Elgar) is not only wonderful, but the "Haydn Variations" perfectly "completes" the stereo EMI Symphony cycle with a work Jochum did not otherwise record.

Everything Jochum did in Boston is gorgeous. The early, monophonic Bruckner is more interesting than essential, except for a 1952 Berlin Philharmonic Seventh that is deeply moving (and arguably superior to the stereo cycle's installment with the same orchestra). Milstein's Brahms shows the aging violinist in a hair less than prime form (it never was his favorite concerto), but Gilels and Jochum combine for some of the weightiest and sober readings of the composer's Piano Concertos ever committed to disc. For no real reason, Wolfgang Schneiderhan recorded the Beethoven Violin Concerto twice with Jochum, both in stereo, both in Berlin (how Karajan allowed all these Berlin remakes is a mystery) and both with his wonderful cadenzas based on the piano transcription of the work. The 1962 version is better known, but both are very similar, and quite excellent. Speaking of Beethoven, Jochum was called in to finish Pollini's concerto cycle after Karl Bőhm passed away, which is the only reason these wonderful versions exist.

The Schubert is exceptionally fine (including a rich and emotionally draining Boston 'Unfinished') and the Schumann Concerto – with Monique Haas an ideal partner – finds the 1951 Berlin Philharmonic unusually polished. Perhaps the most delightful surprise for me was the lone Handel Organ Concerto. Jochum's Baroque credentials are largely forgotten today, but he was a wonderful Bach conductor (think Klemperer, but much less severe) and this little chestnut, sounding warm and impossibly old-fashioned in modern garb, tells me exactly why I find Jochum so versatile and musical.

Since his death, Jochum's various labels and surviving kin seem equally interesting in painting the conductor as more than a Bruckner specialist. This can only be applauded. EMI/Warner gave us his astonishing London Beethoven cycle and a glorious disc of Mozart to compliment the other three Bs in Jochum's discography. With this set – and we can hopefully look forward to at least two more boxes for opera and Philips, respectively – Universal pays its own tribute to a terrific conductor. You might own most of this, but if you don't, I urge you to get this set.

Copyright © 2017, Brian Wigman