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Brahms: Symphony No. 4

Audio Samples

>Beethoven, Ludwig van : Coriolan Overture in C minor, Op. 62
>Gabrieli, Giovanni : Symphoniae sacrae, Book 2
>Schütz, Heinrich : Saul, Saul, was verfolgst du mich, motet for 2 sopranos, alto, tenor, 2 basses, 2 violins & continuo
>Bach, Johann Sebastian : Cantata no 150 "Nach dir, Herr, verlanget mich" BWV 150
>     Meine Augen sehen stets zu dem Herrn
>     Meine Tage in den Leiden
>Brahms, Johannes : Geistliches Lied, Op. 30
>Brahms, Johannes : Fest- und Gedenksprüche (3) for double chorus, Op. 109
>Brahms, Johannes : Symphony no 4 in E minor, Op. 98

Album Summary

>Beethoven, Ludwig van : Coriolan Overture in C minor, Op. 62
>Gabrieli, Giovanni : Symphoniae sacrae, Book 2
>Schütz, Heinrich : Saul, Saul, was verfolgst du mich, motet for 2 sopranos, alto, tenor, 2 basses, 2 violins & continuo
>Bach, Johann Sebastian : Cantata no 150 "Nach dir, Herr, verlanget mich" BWV 150
>Brahms, Johannes : Geistliches Lied, Op. 30
>Brahms, Johannes : Fest- und Gedenksprüche (3) for double chorus, Op. 109
>Brahms, Johannes : Symphony no 4 in E minor, Op. 98
Performers Conductor Ensemble
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Composers

Notes & Reviews:

"During a 2008 BBC interview to mark the centenary of his birth, the composer Elliott Carter uttered the startling statement that live performances of his works rarely sounded the way they did in his head. Such an admission from this two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning centenarian sounded rather tragic, but in fact Brahms had a similar problem with his symphonies. Indeed, even the greatest conductors of his day could reduce him to despair. He accused Walter Frisch of "fussy over-determined expressivity", whilst a performance by Hans Richter was "truly awful". Thankfully for Brahms, people did occasionally get it right for him, garnering praise from him such as "exceptionally sensitive and scholarly", and "spirited and elegant". It's likely he would have approved of this particular disc too, the latest addition to John Eliot Gardiner's historically-informed Brahms series.

Gardiner's reading of Brahms' final symphony has been informed by the composer's more positive comments above, and also the annotated manuscripts left by Steinbach, a conductor whose performances Brahms was reputed to have enjoyed. Perhaps most importantly though, Gardiner has taken guidance from, and programmed the symphony alongside, the music that made Brahms tick - orchestral and choral works by his beloved Beethoven, Bach and Schütz, plus his own substantially-sized choral works. The resultant interpretation, performed on a small, period-instrumented orchestra, is a revelation.

Textures are as transparent as chamber music. Phrases and ideas are nuanced, but disciplined rather than heart-on-sleeve. Attack is crisp. 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. Fans of the highly expressive, big-orchestra sound will find climaxes smaller, swells less deeply plumbed, and timbres less fruitily rich. However, instead there's pace, energy, intelligently balanced lines, and notes that previously you'd have needed a score to detect amidst the general wash of colour.

This invigorating performance is more than an interpretation. It's an entire reassessment of how Brahms' fourth and final symphony should be understood and performed. Marvellous."-BBC Music

METRO
Gardiner brings a delightful crispness and spontaneity to the work: he creates great sweeps of emotion without sacrificing inner details, and the Orchestre RTvolutionnaire et Romantique respond to him by playing with warmth and passion.

The Observer
[The motets] provide a surprising context for the symphony, given in a transparent, analytical performance by the Orchestre RTvolutionnaire et Romantique. Harmony and counterpoint gleam, with no aural smudges and not a jot of bookish didacticism.

The Independent on Sunday
The variety of tone, dynamic and texture from Orchestre RTvolutionnaire 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, Schntz and Bach.

The Guardian
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.

Financial Times
The symphony is upstaged by choral works (Schntz, Gabrieli, Beethoven and Brahms) which illuminate its creative background. The jewel is Brahms's wondrous Geistliches Lied, giving the Monteverdi Choir its finest hour.

Sunday Times
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.

BBC Music Magazine
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.

Classic FM Magazine
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.

Charlotte Gardner, bbc.co.uk
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.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Royal Festival Hall, London (10/2008).



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Works Details

>Beethoven, Ludwig van : Coriolan Overture in C minor, Op. 62
  • Conductor: John Gardiner
  • Running Time: 6 min. 51 sec.
  • Period Time: Classical
  • Written: 1807

>Gabrieli, Giovanni : Symphoniae sacrae, Book 2
  • Conductor: John Gardiner
  • Running Time: 3 min. 37 sec.
  • Period Time: Renaissance
  • Form: Choral

>Heinrich Schütz (Composer) (1585 - 1672) : Saul, Saul, was verfolgst du mich, motet for 2 sopranos, alto, tenor, 2 basses, 2 violins & continuo
  • Performers: Stuart Young (Baritone); Margaret Bragle; Alison Hall (Baritone); Nicholas Mulroy (Tenor); Matthew Vocal] (Baritone); Jeremy Budd (Voice)
  • Conductor: John Gardiner
  • Running Time: 3 min. 49 sec.
  • Period Time: Baroque
  • Form: Choral

>Bach, Johann Sebastian : Cantata no 150 "Nach dir, Herr, verlanget mich" BWV 150 :: Meine Augen sehen stets zu dem Herrn
  • Performers: Tom Appleton (Boy Soprano); Nicholas Robertson (Tenor); Charlotte Mobbs (Soprano)
  • Conductor: John Gardiner
  • Running Time: 2 min. sec.
  • Period Time: Baroque
  • Form: Cantata/Oratorio
  • Written: 1706

>Bach, Johann Sebastian : Cantata no 150 "Nach dir, Herr, verlanget mich" BWV 150 :: Meine Tage in den Leiden
  • Performers: Tom Appleton (Boy Soprano); Nicholas Robertson (Tenor); Charlotte Mobbs (Soprano)
  • Conductor: John Gardiner
  • Running Time: 2 min. 53 sec.
  • Period Time: Baroque
  • Form: Cantata/Oratorio
  • Written: 1706

>Brahms, Johannes : Geistliches Lied, Op. 30
  • Conductor: John Gardiner
  • Running Time: 5 min. 18 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Form: Choral
  • Written: 1856

>Brahms, Johannes : Fest- und Gedenksprüche (3) for double chorus, Op. 109
  • Conductor: John Gardiner
  • Running Time: 8 min. 31 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Form: Choral
  • Written: 1886-1888

>Brahms, Johannes : Symphony no 4 in E minor, Op. 98
  • Conductor: John Gardiner
  • Running Time: 36 min. 23 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: 1884-1885