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Brahms: The Four Symphonies 1st Edition
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The density of Brahms's symphonies is such that many details can be easily overlooked without guidance. Walter Frisch is one of the foremost English-speaking experts on Brahms's music. One can try to work out all the thematic ideas of the symphonies without a guide. I have conducted three of these works myself, and before reading this work, I had missed several details that now redefine how I interpret them (for example, I was never able to articulate reason for the magical of the second movement of the Third Symphony, until I read Frisch's comments on how the tonic chord can be the dominant of the subdominant.)
This last comment is music-speak. Regrettably, it is only comprehensible by a small percentage of the concert/recording audience. For those fortunate enough to know German, there are several good guides on individual pieces of music in that language. Otherwise, the closest thing one has in English is the Cambridge Music Handbook series. The problem with that series is that many of the entries are not analytic enough (ie. they fail to provide a measure by measure breakdown of the piece) and the books are overpriced for what they provide ...
Luckily, Rheinhold Brinkmann's Late Idyll is still available for the reader. He restricts his discussion to the Brahms 2cd symphony, but it is a wonderful work indeed. Frisch attempts a similar approach with all the symphonies. It could use more detail, but I'm sure he was limited to a certain length by his editors.