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Symphonies Nos. 1 & 4


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Audio CD, June 26, 2012
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Symphonies Nos. 1 & 4 + Symphonies Nos 2 & 3
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (June 26, 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: BR Klassik
  • ASIN: B007RTMCCG
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #279,211 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Editorial Reviews

One year after the successful release of the 2nd and 3rd symphonies by Johannes Brahms, the present double CD now completes the full cycle of Brahms's symphonies, as performed by the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks under the direction of Mariss Jansons. Only a few weeks ago, Mariss Jansons finished the recording of the 4th symphony in Munich's Herkulessaal. Along with his 1st symphony ("Beethoven's Tenth"), it puts the finishing touch on the complete performance of Johannes Brahms' symphonic works, compositions oriented around the creativity of his great role model, yet in many ways also forward-looking and innovative.

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Format: Audio CD
This second release completes Jansons' first Brahms cycle, taken from live performances. I admire the Bavarian Radio SO's in-house label, which has come through consistently with top-tier recorded sound, as good as any studio recordings on the market. The orchestra is world class, and its rounded tone fits into a space between Vienna and Berlin _ I hope to hear them in concert one day, but they rarely seem to tour the U.s. Every release from BR Klassik is worth trying out.

Unfortunately, Jansons has a slack, draggy view of Brahms in Sym. 1. There is almost no propulsion, and only the orchestra's amber tones holds the listener's interest - and then only for a few minutes. Jansons is a variable conductor, and his worst fault, when a reading doesn't click, is to put one foot ahead of the other without any interpretative interest. that's what happens here in a reading that has spurts of energy but long stretches of dog-paddling. Among recent Brahms Firsts, this is falls behind Rattle's on EMI with the Berliners by a good margin. Much less publicized is a masterful Brahms First, a live concert on Signum, where Christoph von Dohnanyi and the Philharmonia reveal the mastery that he is capable of in the autumn of his career.

On CD 2, which is priced to be a free bonus disc, Jansons takes a light-handed, lyrical approach to the first movement of the Brahms Fourth that seems totally wrong-headed to me. Here, too, there is little forward motion; the reading relies too much on lovely sounds made by the orchestra - Brahms didn't write his music in a caramel factory. the slow movement is suave to the point of being languid. The Scherzo is straightforward and nicely shaped but underpowered.
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I'm a Brahms guy, so have listened to alot of the available symphonies out there. I would put these somwhere in the middle. Nice sound/recording...nothing wrong from my point of view. Could be a little more dramatic in some parts...IF you are a completist, or just like to have several different sets of these in your collection, these could be for you. I really like the new Gardiner 4 vol.set, and for an older set you can't beat Sanderling.
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