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Brahms: Symphony No. 4
Recorded live at Royal Festival Hall, London, 5-8 October 2008
Soli Deo Gloria is proud to release the last instalment of its successful Brahms Symphony series which sees John Eliot Gardiner and his Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique explore the music of Johannes Brahms.
This album is a celebration of the Fourth Symphony and the various pieces that contributed to its making.
From baroque to romantic, and from great orchestral pieces to intimate choral works, the listener gains a wonderful insight into Brahms’s mind and music making, through pieces that he loved and inspired him.
The Fourth Symphony was described by Richard Strauss as “a giant work, great in concept an invention, masterful in its form, and yet from A to Z genuine Brahms, in a word, an enrichment to our art”. Drawing from many sources of the musical past, it is nevertheless absolutely unique.
It is impregnated with baroque influence – the Finale was directly inspired by Bach’s cantata Nach dir, Herr, verlanget mich. Brahms enjoyed conducting less known old repertoire such as Gabrieli’s Sanctus Benedictus and Schütz’s Saul, Saul. They influenced his choral writing as we can hear in the Geistliches Lied. Brahms was also famously inspired by Beethoven, and the Finale to the Fourth clearly owes to his Coriolan overture.
The booklet includes a conversation between John Eliot Gardiner and composer Hugh Wood, explaining how the pieces relate to each other and giving a moving account of Brahms as a composer and as a man.
This recording was made during the 2008 Brahms: Roots and Memories tour.
“Gardiner brings a delightful crispness and spontaneity to the work: he creates great sweeps of emotion without sacrificing inner details, and the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique respond to him by playing with warmth and passion.” METRO, 3rd September 2010
“[The motets] provide a surprising context for the symphony, given in a transparent, analytical performance by the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique. Harmony and counterpoint gleam, with no aural smudges and not a jot of bookish didacticism.” The Observer, 12th September 2010
“...the variety of tone, dynamic and texture from Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique is consistently well defined...A no-prisoners account of Beethoven's Coriolan Overture opens a programme that explores Brahms' choral influences, with pristine excerpts of Gabrieli, Schütz and Bach.” The Independent on Sunday, 12th September 2010
“Gardiner's highly energised, raw-boned account, superbly played by the ORR and never dwelling unduly on inessential expressive details, has a real sense of culmination, of the end of a creative journey that the whole series of recordings has illuminated in a genuinely original way.” The Guardian, 16th September 2010 ****
“The symphony is upstaged by choral works (Schütz, Gabrieli, Beethoven and Brahms) which illuminate its creative background. The jewel is Brahms’s wondrous Geistliches Lied, giving the Monteverdi Choir its finest hour.” Financial Times, 17th September 2010 ***
“this disc is a triumph of imaginative programming, an education for anyone wishing to hear the music that inspired the composer...Gardiner’s approach is the antithesis of the muddy sound of most “classic” recordings. His tempi are brisk yet flexible, as Brahms wanted, but he refuses to sentimentalise the music.” Sunday Times, 26th September 2010 ****
“everything seems in focus: not just the tempo, but also the rhythmic drive and urgency seem absolutely right in the third and fourth movements...This performance gives a lively sense of what that authentic Brahms sound might have been like, and the music gains enormously - not an ounce of flab on these textures” BBC Music Magazine, December 2010 *****
“It's fascinating to hear the Bach cantata movement that inspired that Finale, with the orchestra in its comfort zone. The little-known choral pieces are done well.” Classic FM Magazine, December 2010 ****
“Textures are as transparent as chamber music. Phrases and ideas are nuanced, but disciplined...In short, Gardiner and his orchestra have placed the work firmly within the classical tradition, as a natural continuation from Brahms' symphonic idol Beethoven, rather than the seamless precursor to Wagner.” Charlotte Gardner, bbc.co.uk, 2nd November 2010
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Brahms: Symphony No. 4 & Piano Concerto No. 2
live Konzerthaus Berlin, 14/12/2002
Dietrich Fischer Dieskau at 85
With an artist such as Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, who has engaged successfully with the work of so many composers, it makes little sense to assign Johannes Brahms a special place in his repertoire (alongside Schubert, Wolf and innumerable others). And yet his 85th birthday is perhaps an appropriate occasion to point out that in the case of Brahms, the conductor Fischer-Dieskau cannot be separated from the singer (no less than either can be separated from Fischer-Dieskau the painter or writer). It is perhaps with no other composer that Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau’s universality comes to such fullness of expression. There is here an awareness of tradition, form and historical contrasts, both in competition and in equilibrium with each other (and all the greater for it), a never-ceasing delight in discovery and above all an honest desire to communicate in the languages of music and poetry (but of course – who else could have made Die schöne Magelone as popular in the dual role of singer and speaker?). He was able to realise this brilliantly on the conductor’s rostrum, as is proven by this live CD recording with the Konzerthausorchester Berlin in its home on the Gendarmenmarkt in December 2002. Konstantin Lifschitz is the piano soloist in the Second Piano Concerto, as thunderingly virtuosic as he is subtly aware of form. The Fourth Symphony by Brahms offers a marvellous example of how breathing and phrasing is the basis of all common music-making, not least in the symphonic repertoire (and just as much in the concerto here that was in Brahms’ day scolded as being a “symphony with obbligato piano”). Dense agogic and dynamic elaboration and a sense of withdrawn contemplation do not just alternate in this piano concerto, but rather emerge one out of the other. The same is true of the symphony’s formal coherence, from the directness of its opening to its abrupt, almost brusque close. Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Konstantin Lifschitz and the Konzerthausorchester Berlin reveal in every moment that musical beauty in Brahms, whether calm or passionate, is always grounded in a consistent musical rhetoric, and that this beauty must be striven for – a process that is as exciting as it is, in the end, mellow and enriching.
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Sir Simon Rattle conducts Brahms and Wagner
Recorded live at Kabelwerk Oberspree, Berlin, 1 May 2007
Sir Simon Rattle conducts the 2007 Europa-Konzert on the occasion of the 125th anniversary of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.
Lisa Batiashvili and Truls Mørk are the wonderful soloists for Brahms`s last orchestral work, the Double Concerto.
Sir Simon Rattle and the Berliner Philharmoniker demonstrate their outstanding musicianship with a fresh and dynamic interpretation of Brahms`s 4th Symphony.
Wagner’s Prelude to Parsifal - was the orchestra’s first recording in September 1913 under Alfred Hertz.
The Kabelwerk Oberspree (power and cable factory) is one of the most impressive historical industrial buildings from late 19th-century Berlin and is an extraordinary venue for an extraordinary programme.
16:9, PCM Stereo, DD 5.1, DTS 5.1
Region code: 0
Booklet notes: English, German, French
Running time: 103 mins
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Brahms: Ein Deutsches Requiem & Symphony No. 4
Academic Orchestra, Morten Topp
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Brahms - Symphony No. 4
Christoph Eschenbach conducts the extremely talented young musicians of the Schleswig-Holstien Orchestra in this truly exhilarating performance – a stunning recording.
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Brahms - Symphony No. 4 & Hungarian Dances
This release marks the completion of the Brahms symphony cycle with The Pittsburg Symphony Orchestra conducted by Marek Janowski. This series has been warmly applauded. “Classics Today” awarded previous releases in this cycle ‘10 out of 10’ and Classic FM Magazinze awarded the recordings of symphonies 2 & 3 “Disc of the Month”.
“…the Pittsburgh Symphony - increasingly one of the nation's finest - could easily be mistaken for a top German orchestra, like Leipzig or Dresden, in this music. The refulgence of the playing is a constant source of pleasure and any conductor who is as mindful of Brahm's ingenuity, invention and sheer vision as Janowski demands to be heard. The Hungarian Dances... are earthy and sinewy with plenty of surge factor in the lower strings and the requisite cheekiness in the phrasing exemplified by those traditionally tantalising hesitations and stompling downbeats.” Gramophone Magazine, March 2009
“It's been true for many years now that American orchestras have been sounding more middle- European, but the Pittsburgh Symphony could easily be mistaken for a top German orchestra, like Leipzig or Dresden, in this music. Listen to the slow movement of the Fourth Symphony where Marek Janowski really has his players leaning into the harmonic radiance of the writing. All those wondrous transfigurations evolve so naturally and so dreamily that the brawny exuberance of the Scherzo – tough and resilient in Janowski's hands – really does come as an unexpected blast.
Approaches differ greatly with regard to the highly innovative first movement, the whole of which constitutes a development of sorts. So, how soon do the darkening clouds descend? For some they cannot descend soon enough. But here it's as if Janowski is delaying the inevitable right through to the high anxiety of the final pages. He tightens the screw relatively late in the movement. The slow movement then restores some sense of prior well-being and inner calm, as does the still centre of the finale with its tranquil flute and trombone-led chorale variation. The refulgence of the playing is a constant source of pleasure.
The Hungarian Dances come in Brahms and Dvorák's orchestrations, their kinship self-evident.
They are earthy and sinewy with plenty of surge factor in the lower strings and the requisite cheekiness in the phrasing exemplified by those traditionally tantalising hesitations and stomping downbeats.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010
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Brahms - Symphonies Nos. 2 & 4
“Brahms Symphony No 2...has clarity and detail but lacks grandeur. Christoph von Dohnányi elicits plaintive tone from the opening horns and balances the parts with care. The romantic surges of the Adagio are well measured and the Scherzo has a dainty charm, but in neither movement is there any sense of awe. The strings lack sheen, the oboe warmth. A second CD includes Symphony No 4 but the story is the same – accuracy, expertise but no real fire.” Sunday Times, 24th August 2008 ***
“[These recordings] are typical Dohnanyi accounts, tough-edged, no-nonsense, massive and unsentimental, but just falling short of the real intensity that makes his best work compelling...And though the orchestral playing is consistently outstanding, there is no sense of occasion or elan.” Andrew Clements, The Guardian, 29th August 2008 ***
“An unusual Brahms double but it's the Fourth which counts as the winner.” Gramophone Magazine, November 2008
“These live performances are engrossing beyond the call of duty: Dohnányi puts joy at the centre of the Fourth Symphony and his second penetrates to its core.” Classic FM Magazine *****
“Dohnanyi and his fine team achieve an apt sense of the momentous in these great works.” The Times
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