Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Schumann: "Spring" Symphony (Leinsdorf)

Erich Leinsdorf
Spring is finally here, and after such a winter as we have had in the USA - one of the coldest I can remember - it's doubly welcome. And so here is Schumann's "Spring" Symphony, conducted by a young Erich Leinsdorf (1912-1993) in what appears to be his only commercial recording of the work. This was made during his first appointment conducting a major symphony orchestra, that of Cleveland, a position Leinsdorf would later characterize as "the bridge between the regimes" of Rodzinski and Szell. He was there for only three years, and all of his recordings with the orchestra were made over a period of three days in February, 1946. These include first American recordings of Dvořák's Sixth Symphony, Rimsky-Korsakov's "Antar" Symphony, and a suite from Debussy's "Pelléas et Mélisande" - the latter two sets released belatedly, after five Cleveland sets conducted by Szell had hit the market. The first of Leinsdorf's Cleveland recordings to be issued was the Schumann:

Schumann: Symphony No. 1 in B-Flat Major, Op. 38 ("Spring") and
Brahms: Chorale-Prelude "Es ist ein Ros' entsprungen" (orch. Leinsdorf)
The Cleveland Orchestra conducted by Erich Leinsdorf
Recorded February 24 and 25, 1946
Columbia Masterworks set MM-617, four 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 79.06 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 55.08 MB)

Curiously, neither the cover nor the record labels indicate the symphony's familiar nickname, even though it originated from the composer himself - as discussed in Paul Affelder's liner notes. The Steinweiss cover does, however, graphically portray the transition from winter to spring.

Cover design by Alex Steinweiss
(restored by Peter Joelson)


  1. Thanks, Bryan - I liked this, even though I seldom enjoy Leinsdorf's records. He moves it along and the playing is actually better than Szell's first recordings with this orchestra.

  2. After Leinsdorf had moved on, the Cleveland really went all to Szell...