Klaus Tennstedt recorded the Brahms Symphony No.1 commercially in the studio in 1983, but it was an early release and has not been available for many years. This BBC Legends release is a new addition to his live discography, and will be a “must” for all his fans. It is very dramatic and powerful. The Royal Festival Hall concert was described by one critic as “a forceful yet often radiant performance, the essential outlines well prepared in rehearsal, but leaving something to add in spontaneous response…”. The fact that Tennstedt here is caught live is very important for all collectors who, on occasions, lamented the emotional difference between his studio performances and the white hot risk-taking of the live event. This is one of Tennstedt’s great performances recorded on the wing.
BBC Legends has also released one of Tennstedt’s infrequent performances of Brahms’ Symphony No.3 (BBCL41672), coupled with Beethoven’s Symphony No.7.
The coupling features the very distinguished Cuban pianist Jorge Bolet playing the Schumann Concerto “live” (he did not enjoy studio recording!). It perfectly complements the Brahms coupling with a broadly conceived and poetical performance, which was always the wish of the composer’s widow Clara. Bolet’s performance here was described as “thoughtful…the antithesis of what might have been expected from a virtuoso hitherto perhaps best known for his commanding brilliance in Liszt”. To the collector, Bolet is very close to Adelina de Lara’s recording in style.
Johannes Brahms: Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 68
I. Un poco sostenuto - Allegro
II. Andante sostenuto
III. Un poco allegretto e grazioso
IV. Adagio - Piu andante - Allegro non troppo ma con brio
Robert Schumann: Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 54
I. Allegro affettuoso
II. Intermezzo: Andantino grazioso
III. Allegro vivace
22nd February 2009
“The opening has tragic intensity — the falling sevenths as desolate as I have ever heard them, the dynamic range exceptionally wide (a Tennstedt trademark). The Andante is unusually slow (though what had “andante” come to mean by 1876?), but with the flexible pulse that Brahms would surely have wanted. The Schumann concerto (1984) is another fine performance, with Jorge Bolet the admirably sensitive soloist.”
“Despite the Royal Festival Hall's dry acoustics, Tennstedt draws a beautifully warm sound from the orchestra and the outer movements are delivered with grandeur and real sense of urgency.”
“Virtually every conductor worth his salt has recorded Brahms's First Symphony. But Klaus Tennstedt's and the London Philharmonic performance… leaves an indelible impression because it is so glowing and warm-hearted. Everything has time to breath and speak in this least febrile of performances. The Andante sostenuto's lyricism and the Elysian Fields conjured in the following Un poco allegretto e grazioso could hardly be more hauntingly contrasted; the unleashing of Brahms's awe-inspiring grandeur in the finale's final pages achieves all the exultance Hugo Wolf so obstinately denied in Brahms.”
Click on any of the works listed above for alternative recordings.