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The Four Symphonies, in the style of the Meiningen performances Box set

15 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Box set, July 9, 2006
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$42.98
$23.04 $4.89
$42.98 & FREE Shipping. Details Only 2 left in stock (more on the way). Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.

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The Four Symphonies, in the style of the Meiningen performances + Brahms: Serenade No. 1 In D, & No. 2 In A
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

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This fascinating set of the complete Brahms symphonies reflects Charles Mackerras' researches into late Romantic performance techniques. Using contemporary letters from the composer and his close associates, Mackerras makes a convincing case that conductors of the late 19th century typically preferred very wide variations in tempo within a movement, and a flexible sense of rhythm. This, of course, is something that many conductors have always done, but Mackerras combines the technique with an orchestra similar in size to the one that premiered many of these symphonies, and which Brahms himself preferred. The result is fresh and exciting, with many passages of Brahms' thick orchestration marvelously clarified. Add to this Telarc's gorgeous sound, and the result is a delight. --David Hurwitz

Disc: 1
1. I. Un Poco Sostenuto/Allegro
2. II. Andante Sostenuto
3. III. Un Poco Allegretto E Graziso
4. IV. Adagio/Allegro Non Troppo, Ma Con Brio
5. Alternate Movement II - Initial Performing Version Of The Second Movement
See all 6 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. I. Allegro Non Troppo
2. II. Adagio Non Troppo
3. III. Allegretto Grazioso (Quasi Andantino)
4. IV. Allegro Con Spirito
5. Chorale St. Antoni - Andante
See all 14 tracks on this disc
Disc: 3
1. I. Allegro Con Brio
2. II. Andante
3. III. Poco Allegretto
4. IV. Allegro
5. I. Allegro Non Troppo
See all 8 tracks on this disc
Disc: 4
1. Alyn Shipton Interviews Sir Charles Mackerras On The Unique Aspects Of This Chamber-Sized Brahms Cycle - Sir Charles Mackerras

Product Details

  • Orchestra: Scottish Chamber Orchestra
  • Conductor: Sir Charles Mackerras
  • Composer: Johannes Brahms
  • Audio CD (July 9, 2006)
  • Number of Discs: 3
  • Format: Box set
  • Note on Boxed Sets: During shipping, discs in boxed sets occasionally become dislodged without damage. Please examine and play these discs. If you are not completely satisfied, we'll refund or replace your purchase.
  • Label: Telarc
  • Run Time: 199.00 minutes
  • ASIN: B000003D2C
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #162,878 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Andrew M. Klein on May 3, 2003
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I've been on the hunt for wonderfully performed versions of these magnificent symphonies for years. My love for them was born decades ago listening to the incomparable Toscanini recrdings on LP (performances still happily available on CD and well worthwile despite the unavoidable loss of sonic quality compared to modern recordings). Mackerras's set is simply superb.
I couldn't agree less with the reviewer who expresses dislike of Mackerras's version of the First. I cannot think of a peer to this performance and am overwhelmed by what McKerras has done with a work that has few peers in all of the symphonic lterature. My view? Bravo!! Not just to the First, but to all four.
My last stop in my hunt before the McKerras versions was the Sandlerling set, which I have reviewed at length at the Sanderling recording site. There I express more completely my admiration for the McKerras recordings, discovered only after I gave up on Sanderling, and my views concering certain other conductors' Brahms efforts. I won't repeat them here, but suggest a visit to the Sanderling cite if you're interested.
What I must say, however, in conclusion, is that Brahms does not sound very interesting when performed indifferently. Most of the performances I've listened to, in recordingas and in concert, have been so slow, so overfed (stuffed with lush strings), so droopy and uninspired that I've been slightly surprised that to find anyone who still listens to this music with attention and interest. (The old Toscanini recordings couldn't have been expected to bear the burden of interesting people in this music alone forever.) After hearing the fabulously conducted Mackerras versions, revealing again and anew the incredible, timeless beauty and energy of these great works, I don't think I need fear this any longer.
Thank you, Maestro Mackerras!
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A scottish bassist on July 6, 2002
Format: Audio CD
This, in my opinion, is the definitive recording with a CHAMBER ORCHESTRA, how it was meant to be. Anyone lucky enough to have heard Mackerras and the orchestra give live performances of these works will share with me the enthusiasm and colour that Mackerras gives the orchestra.
Forget comparisons, the SCO may not have the starts of the Berlin Phil, or be as highly paid as the Met, but they are a European Orchestra and have an affinity with the music (try their recordings of Mendelssohn 3&4 to prove this). Particularly impressive are the Double Basses, led by the dynamic young virtuoso Nicholas Bayley, while the woodwinds are clear.
Not forgetting the brass, always clear, precise and articulate.
Mackerras might not be as big a name as others, and this might be a touch $$$, but cough up, this is a quality set, if only for the orchestral playing - its inspired!
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26 of 31 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 3, 1999
Format: Audio CD
Finally, Brahms without all that icky thickness that we usually blame him for! This Brahms cycle strikes an excellent balance between clarity and richness of sonority. Mackerras's interpretations are full of vitality -- except in the Fourth, alas! I frankly cannot understand how Mackerras gives such an underpowered interpretation of the Fourth after giving such powerful interpretations of the first three symphonies. Perhaps he views this piece as resigned rather than defiant or tragic. Oh well, no matter. I'm glad I own this cycle. I can't really single out anything in the first three symphonies since everything is excellent. I have a feeling Gardiner will have something to say about these works, but for now, I'm happy with Mackerras, as well as my old Bruno Walter CD for the Fourth. Forget about Herby von K., Lenny B., and all those other people who claim they know Brahms.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 6, 2001
Format: Audio CD
(...) This is by no means a first choice, but lovers of these symphonies will want these vital, nicely recorded "period performance" versions as alternates to the more straightforward readings by Klemperer, Karajan and others. Mackerass's interpretations consistently manage to sound fresh and exciting, which is no mean feat on this well-trodden ground. He takes elasticity of tempo to extremes at times, and this will not please everyone: for example, by the time he finishes the first run-through of the Big Tune in Symphony 1, movement 4, he's steaming along at almost double the pace he began with! And those pauses! Sometimes the silence seems to go on for four or five seconds even in the middle of a movement. But more often than not, Mackerass succeeds in finding surprising new possibilities in music we all feel we know well, and the balance produced by the use of period horns (not strings, thank god) and a smaller orchestra reveal new textures at almost every turn.
If you're new to this music, there are several fine bargain bin versions available (try Swallisch's) to bring you up to speed. At mid-price, you can get Karajan or Klemperer (still my favorite). But for those who already own a set or two and would like to experience this music anew, by all means, pick up this set by Mackerass.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful By John Long on June 29, 2005
Format: Audio CD
This is not only my favorite recording of the Brahms 4, but it is in fact my favorite recording of anything whatsoever. There are several reasons for this:

1. It's Brahms.

2. It' his 4 symphonies. If you have never heard them, do so before you die. Which could be tomorrow. So GO!

3. Many have mentioned that this recording is different, that it is supposedly closer to the original way the music was played. Maybe. All I know is that when I listen to other recordings, I can't stand it. The strings overwhelm the winds, and the whole thing is rightly called muddled. This recording is lighter, more nuanced, and you can hear all the parts, including all 4 horns, each woodwind instrument (you don't have to strain to hear the bassoon!) and even the 3 trombones when they are allowed to play. Maybe it's because I learned these pieces playing in the horn section, but to me, it is a crime to mask all these parts that Brahms worked so hard on.

4. OK, some of the tempos are "extreme". But frankly, they work. They give a passion and a fire to these pieces that leaves me dissatisfied without them.

Honestly, I think I have listened to these tracks well over a hundred times each. It NEVER get's old. Order this today, and get it priority mail. If you're not happy, there's no helping you.
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The Four Symphonies, in the style of the Meiningen performances
This item: The Four Symphonies, in the style of the Meiningen performances
Price: $42.98
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