Schubert Great C Major Symphony
Josef Krips, conductor
London Symphony Orchestra
Condition: VG++ to EX
Date first published: 1958
Price range: $30-227, mean $89 on popsike
Comments: I won't go into great detail about the performance here except to say this is one of the very best Schubert 9ths, and it has held its ground with the passing of time. I have included some more insightful comments from FFSS below for your reference.
Now let's get to the nitty gritty of the vinyl recording. This is an early Decca FFSS from 1958. My first observations upon listening to the recording were: 1) Narrow soundstage. Somewhat disappointing, given that this was recorded in the famed Kingsway Hall. Sitting before my loudspeakers, the orchestra seemed centered in a relatively small area right in the middle of the stage. I would have expected more ambience but instead felt like their was a low hanging ceiling over the orchestra. The soundstage did, however, have the quality of being relatively deep. 2) Nice clarity. As opposed to the last Krips album, the Tchaikovsky 5th, this album has improved orchestral clarity, most notably in loud and dynamic passages, with just the slightest hint of distortion. 3) Dynamic range felt somewhat compressed, particularly at the upper end. Again, I had Krips' Tchaikovsky in my head still -- perhaps unfairly -- and in comparison, this Schubert album sported just as good low level dynamics but couldn't muster up quite enough sound when the music intensified. 4) Boosted treble. Treble was bright throughout the recording.
The digital remaster, one of Decca's limited "The Classic Sound" reissues from the mid-1990s, sounds quite different from the analog. Treble is still a tad bright, but the soundstage is much wider, and dynamic range is not as compressed.
Here's what Moon and Gray have to say about this in FFSS:
"This is one of the most respected and revered performances of Schubert's "Great" Symphony because of its combination of Krips' passion and classicism. His performance is the quintessential mellow Viennese approach to this score. For a more dramatic approach try Munch (RCA LSC2344) or Szell (Epic BC1009). The Penguin Stereo Guide, in giving this recording a Rosette, comments:
'Joseph Krips never made a finer record than this, and in the current reissue the sound is outstanding, too, with a glowing bloom cast over the entire orchestra. The performance itself has a direct, unforced spontaneity which shows Krip's natural feeling for Schubertian lyricism at its most engaging. The playing is polished yet flexible, strong without ever sounding aggressive. In the two final movements Krips finds an airy exhilaration which makes one wonder how every other conductor can keep the music earthbound as they do. The pointing of the trio in the Scherzo is delectable, and the feathery lightness of the triplets in the finale makes on positively welcome every single one of its many repetitions. As a whole this reading represents the Viennese tradition at its very finest, and this record is not surpassed in the present catalogue either on grounds of sound or as a performance.'
Recorded in May, 1958 in Kingsway Hall. Kenneth E. Wilkinson, engineer."
Moon and Gray rated this 9 for performance and 9 for sound. I concur with the performance grading but have to disagree on the sound. Maybe a later pressing would resolve some of the problems inherent on this early FFSS pressing. My brief survey of popsike and collectorsfrenzy shows no ED2 or ED3 pressings.