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Brahms: Symphonies 1-4 / Barenboim, Chicago So


Release Date: 08/22/2006 
Label:  Warner Classics   Catalog #: 61892   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  Daniel Barenboim
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 4 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 3 Hours 32 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Barenboim has long delayed recording a Brahms cycle, no doubt wisely: there are too many superficial competitors around. The Chicago SO plays the symphonies sufficiently often under his baton, and is clearly shaped to his will; the result is a strong, impressive set. Barenboim’s Brahms is dark, dynamic, strongly driven, sometimes at the expense of the more lyrical moments – though Symphony No. 2, usually treated as the lyrical, relaxed one, benefits from this approach, which stresses the tragic undertones of its first two movements.

The big sonata movements are always well-shaped, their architecture vast but never obtrusive: Barenboim can begin in almost matter-of-fact fashion and work from severe logic to boiling climaxes,
Read more as in the first movements of Symphonies Nos 1 and 4 and the finales of Nos 2 and 3. Occasionally his taste for the dramatic stumbles into solecism: the theatrical crescendo in the striding chordal passage towards the end of No. 4’s Scherzo, for example, in clear defiance of Brahms’s ff sempre marking!

Inner movements, though always elegantly done, are sometimes short on reflection and intimacy; the Andante of No. 4 is reposeful but surprisingly cool (in fact Barenboim’s tempi are on the brisk side throughout.

By contrast the analogous movement of No. 1 derives an almost sinister air from the dark gloss of the Chicago strings. The clear but cavernous acoustic of Chicago’s Orchestra Hall favours Barenboim’s approach, producing a sound both granitic and transparent.

-- Calum MacDonald, BBC Music Magazine
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Works on This Recording

1.
Symphony no 1 in C minor, Op. 68 by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  Daniel Barenboim
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1855-1876; Austria 
Date of Recording: 05/1993 
Venue:  Orchestra Hall, Chicago 
Length: 47 Minutes 26 Secs. 
2.
Symphony no 2 in D major, Op. 73 by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  Daniel Barenboim
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1877; Austria 
Date of Recording: 10/1993 
Venue:  Orchestra Hall, Chicago 
Length: 40 Minutes 1 Secs. 
3.
Symphony no 3 in F major, Op. 90 by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  Daniel Barenboim
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1883; Austria 
Date of Recording: 05/1993 
Venue:  Orchestra Hall, Chicago 
Length: 39 Minutes 3 Secs. 
4.
Symphony no 4 in E minor, Op. 98 by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  Daniel Barenboim
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1884-1885; Austria 
Date of Recording: 09/1993 
Venue:  Orchestra Hall, Chicago 
Length: 40 Minutes 6 Secs. 
5.
Tragic Overture, Op. 81 by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  Daniel Barenboim
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1880; Austria 
Date of Recording: 09/1993 
Venue:  Orchestra Hall, Chicago 
Length: 14 Minutes 12 Secs. 
6.
Variations in B flat major on a theme by Haydn, Op. 56a "St. Anthony" by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  Daniel Barenboim
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1873; Austria 
Date of Recording: 09/1993 
Venue:  Orchestra Hall, Chicago 
Length: 19 Minutes 34 Secs. 
7.
Academic Festival Overture in C minor, Op. 80 by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  Daniel Barenboim
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1880; Austria 
Date of Recording: 09/1993 
Venue:  Orchestra Hall, Chicago 
Length: 10 Minutes 22 Secs. 

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