Born in Vienna in April 1902, the cheery-looking Josef Krips seems to have been pre-destined to achieve eminence in the Viennese classics. He recorded with both, the Wiener Philharmoniker and the key London orchestras for Decca in the 1940s, 50s and 60s and the interpretations have genuine expressive power while remaining devoid of exaggeration or affectation.
Here we have Krips giving us the First and Fourth symphonies, respectively of Brahms and Schumann. With the Wiener Philharmoniker, he whips up an almost uncontainable sense of thrill in Brahms’s First. ‘I wrote the Symphony in that first flush of spring which carries a man away even in his old age, and comes over him anew every year’ wrote Schumann of his First Symphony. Krips’s way with the work is unforced and natural, and of his two recordings of Schumann’s Fourth (in 1952 and 1957), the second is included here.
This issue forms part of a series of five reissues devoted to the art of Josef Krips.
Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 68
Symphony No. 4 in E minor, Op. 98
London Symphony Orchestra
Symphony No. 1 in B flat, Op. 38 ‘Spring’
Symphony No. 4 in D minor, Op. 120
London Symphony Orchestra
Recording Producers: John Culshaw (Brahms No. 1); Victor Olof (Brahms No. 4); James Walker (Schumann No. 1); Christopher Whelan (Schumann No. 4)
Balance Engineers: James Brown (Brahms No. 1); unidentified (Brahms No. 4); Ken Cress (Schumann No. 4); Gordon Parry (Schumann No. 4)
Recording Locations: Sofiensaal, Vienna, Austria, October 1956 (Brahms No. 1); Kingsway Hall, London, United Kingdom, April 1950 (Brahms No. 4), October 1956 (Schumann No. 4), May 1957 (Schumann No. 1)
‘The Schumann [Fourth] shows powerful structural conviction … It begins by striking just the right ominous note, and the Allegro grows from this compellingly … Krips’s avoidance of easy sentimentality is welcome, as is his refusal to linger affectionately over passages that please him at the expense of overall vision. Transfers are up to Decca’s customary high quality, giving a clean, immediate sound.’ Gramophone
‘Krips’s smiling, companionable approach is so sympathetic’ (Schumann Symphony No. 1) Gramophone
‘An extremely fine performance in many ways with plenty of weight and sense of purpose. The playing of the Vienna Philharmonic is both sensitive and splendidly alive; the slow movement is thoroughly felt and eloquently phrased. Krips’s reading combines strength and tenderness, power and lyrical feeling’ (Brahms Symphony No. 1) Gramophone
‘Superb … There are no histrionics about Krips’s reading, in which everything is beautifully proportioned and carefully calculated. The music moves forward to its natural climaxes in each of the four movements with a wonderful feeling of inevitability that leads logically and dramatically to the crowning achievement of the great Finale. The orchestral playing is sensitive, vigorous, and poised to a nicety, and the recording does full justice to it.’ (Brahms Symphony No. 4) Gramophone