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Symphony 3 / Serenade 2

4.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Audio CD, November 9, 2004
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The first and final movements of Brahms's Third Symphony contain some of the most dramatic music he was to compose, yet both end serenely and enclose two beautiful inner movements. The equally exquisite Serenade No 2, unusually scored for wind instruments, violas, cellos and double basses, was one of his own personal favourites and both receive superb performances under Bernard Haitink in the third part of his internationally acclaimed LSO Live Brahms cycle.

Review

'a really beautiful performance of the second serenade ... A delight - this seems to me a new benchmark. It goes without saying that the playing is excellent: the LSO can probably play Brahms symphonies in its collective sleep.'

BENCHMARK RECORDING (Serenade No 2) -- BBC Music Magazine, 21 January 2005

'enchanting ... The sense we have here is of a musician re-discovering a piece he once loved and mistakenly thought he knew.' -- Gramophone, 17 March 2005

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5:47
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (November 9, 2004)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Lso Live UK
  • ASIN: B00069I804
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #574,844 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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By John Kwok HALL OF FAME on November 24, 2004
Format: Audio CD
Bernard Haitink's third recorded Brahms symphony cycle continues in this excellent LSO Live CD, recorded from concerts he conducted in 2002 (serenade) and 2003 (symphony). Brahms' Serenade Number 2 could be regarded as an early precursor to his symphonies, since it is a five-movement work. Haitink leads the London Symphony Orchestra in yet another excellent performance, noted for warm, rhapsodic playing from the string section. However, the best performance on this CD is that of Brahms' Third Symphony. This piece itself is a bit unusual for a 19th Century symphony, in the form of Allegro Andante Poco Allegretto Allegro. In its overall tone, the work itself is a bit "darker" than the Second Symphony, which many have regarded as Brahms' "Pastoral" symphony. Haitink excels in emphasizing the more melancholy aspects of the work, leading the London Symphony Orchestra in the best-conducted and recorded version of this symphony that I've heard so far, with the possible exception of Harnoncourt's Teldec recording with him conducting the Berlin Philharmonic. Haitink's latest recording seems a bit darker than Masur's New York Philharmonic Orchestra recording from Teldec, and perhaps, Harnoncourt's as well. Having enjoyed Haitink's recordings of Brahms' first three symphonies, I am eagerly awaiting his recording of the Fourth Symphony.
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Format: Audio CD
Bernard Haitink's three Brahms cycles have declined steadily in energy and commitment. It's fortunate that his first one, with the Concertgebouw from 1970-73, exists to prove that Haitink can conduct Brahms with passion, because this outing with the LSO couldn't be duller. Timings are less than half a minute slower in each movement compared to the earlier version, but the conductor is too concerned with beautiful sounds and not enough with momentum and drama.

What makes the Third difficult is its lack of tempo contrast and mood, so it's up to the conductor to find as much dramatic contrast as he can. Karajan, Bernstein, Toscanini, and a number of others manage to do this, but Haitink smooths out the contrasts and never delivers even a true Allegro in the outer movements. There's no brio in the first movement and no fervent buildup in the finale. The middle movements are a study in mellifluous playing without much meaning or point.

The Serenade #2 wakes Haitink up, however, and he gives us one of the most rollicking, cheerful readings on disc, with the engineers contributing detailed sound that highlights the woodwinds delightfuly. If anything, Haitink is too bumptious at times, rushing the Minuet and finale, ut rather that than the monotonous placidity of the Third Sym. In sum, if you love the LSO and excellent recorded sound, this CD has more to offer than if you are looking for a first-rate Brhams Third to challenge the great ones.
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