One of the great Hungarian conductors, Szell quickly transformed a middling Midwestern orchestra into one of the nation's Big Five.
Every major conductor, and most not-so-major ones, comes around to recording Eine kleine Nachtmusik, but not so many do it as well as George Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra strings. And let’s face it, you won’t find a period-instrument ensemble that plays with anything like this level of polish. The fact is, Szell’s conception of Mozart was not terribly far from “period” sensibilities: restrained use of vibrato, incisive rhythms, crisp ensemble, lively tempos, but also a welcome degree of warmth to the sound and of course incredible ensemble discipline and some of the best players on the planet. And he had real period instruments, meaning performers who owned top quality old violins and bows, not inferior modern reproductions of them. The result is as lovely a performance of Mozart’s perennially delicious Serenade as we are ever likely to hear.
"This is a terrifically exciting performance of Orff's popular chestnut. Tempos are swift, from the opening "O fortuna" onward. The soloists are uniformly excellent, especially Judith Blegen, whose "In trutina" remains one of the most beautiful ever recorded. (…) In sum–an unusual and extreme rendition, really well done." ~ClassicsToday