C0148. MAX FIEDLER Cond. Berlin Phil.: Symphony #4 in e; Symphony #2 in D; Academic Festival Overture ; w.ELLY NEY: Piano Concerto #2 in B-flat (all Brahms). (England) 2-Biddulph WHL 003/04. Transfers by Ward Marston. Very long out-of-print, Final Copy! - 744718300426
“Max Fiedler (1859-1939) is the only conductor on record who knew Brahms over a lengthy period (Weingartner performed in front of Brahms only shortly before the composer's death). So what we have here are genuine historical artifacts of how a major conductor performed Brahms during the composer's lifetime. These transfers are the best I have heard.
These interpretations are highly ‘romantic’ in style, with numerous ‘luftpausen’ and tempo shifts - Fiedler has no reluctance to slow down and ‘smell the roses’ when the mood seizes him. In many respects, this mode of Brahms conducting is an early precursor to the highly ‘personal’ readings of Furtwangler, Abendroth, and to a certain extent, Knappertsbusch. It is certainly miles apart from the strict rectitude of Weingartner and the steady, but highly nuanced pulse of Fritz Busch. The latter was a pupil of Fritz Steinbach, who was said to be Brahms' favorite conductor of the composer's symphonies.
The second symphony recorded here has a warmth and poetry that rank it, for me, among the finest interpretations ever, along with Furtwangler (his 1952 Berlin Phil. reading), Busch, and Schuricht (with the VPO)….
In the 2nd Piano concerto, Fiedler provides some of the most purely beautiful orchestral playing ever heard. To my ears, only Furtwangler (with Fischer) and Knappertsbusch (with Curzon) are in the same league….while not a virtuoso, Ney does play with great feeling and is well-attuned to Fiedler's conducting.…
This is a fine set for collectors. It provides a useful perspective on interpretive styles that prevailed during Brahms' lifetime.”
- Jeffrey Lipscomb
“Like his near contemporary Fritz Steinbach, whose conducting the composer specially approved, Max Fiedler was a famous Brahmsian. Alas, Steinbach died in 1916 at the age of 61, leaving behind him disciples (Toscanini, among others) but no recordings. Fiedler, by contrast, [left] behind revered recordings of the Second and Fourth Symphonies, recordings which have long been of absorbing interest to students of Brahms interpretation as well as to students of late 19th-century performance practice. In this sense, no Brahms library can properly be said to be complete without them….
the interest of these performances lies first and foremost - not to mention finally and most importantly - in the tempos: in the way they are chosen, established, and shrewdly modified by Fiedler in the course of performances which so interestingly live, move and have their being. There are other points of interest. The nature of the use of string portamentos: in the case of Fiedler and the Berlin Philharmonic, the selective and highly discriminating use of it. But it is tempo which is of paramount interest. Ironically, it is this which enables one to give the present set a qualified welcome.”
- Richard Osborne, GRAMOPNONE, Nov., 2000