Dynamic and dramatic readings, faithful to Brahms's intentions. Powerfully conceived, they are rhythmically alert, without an ounce of undue sentiment and never for an instant losing sight of the scores' rock-solid architecture. The Gewandhaus players reward him with magnificent playing, alert and sumptuously rich in sound.
– BBC Music Magazine
For most listeners' purposes, Riccardo Chailly's set of Johannes Brahms' four symphonies will seem standard-issue, with respectable and uncontroversial interpretations from an esteemed conductor, and rich and resonant performances by the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. Even in the choice of filler pieces, the set includes the three orchestral works that are usuallyRead more packaged with the symphonies: the Tragic Overture, the Haydn Variations, and the Academic Festival Overture. However, this set offers welcome suprises and extra value for the purchase. Two orchestral arrangements of the Interludes, Opp. 116 and 117 for piano, are included, along with instrumental versions of a handful of Liebeslieder Waltzes and three of the orchestrated Hungarian Dances, which may be incentives to listeners who are looking for a little more. Also included are Brahms' original version of the Andante of the First Symphony and the alternate opening of the Fourth. But no one should invest in a set solely on the basis of these extras, however unusual they may be. Since first recording the cycle with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, where he offered a rather heavy-handed modern take on the symphonies, Chailly has gone back to an older, more historically informed style of playing Brahms that was familiar to conductors of the early 20th century. The music is lighter and more transparent, so in some ways, his recordings are sometimes reminiscent of classic performances by Bruno Walter, George Szell, and other revered conductors. For traditionalists, this is a fine set to own, especially if a fresh digital recording is needed.
Warm BrahmsOctober 7, 2015By owen r. (lakewood, CA)See All My Reviews"These are sensitive, solid performances but not particularly revelatory. They are represented as being faithful to Brahms' intentions. Since this was also Sawallich's mantra I did some comparative listening. Result: a greater appreciation of Sawallich. These performances are less robust than Szell or Karajan and therefore not as compelling. Nevertheless, taken on their own they are noteworthy if not excellent. The playing of the Leipzig musicians is incisively breath taking. The audio on these discs is not Decca's finest: some digital glare and a constricted sound field. Compared to the Brahms I have recently reviewed (Szell, Karajan, et al.) I still believe the best value, performance and audio goes to the Karajan set. However, if you are looking for a different take on Brahms then this set is for you."Report Abuse
Excellent Brahms symphonies and moreOctober 9, 2014By Gail M. (Goleta, CA)See All My Reviews"This is an easy set to recommend: fine conducting, orchestral playing, and recording! In addition to the two symphony disks I appreciate the third disk of this set, loaded with Brahms' overtures and several other works. I particularly enjoy the unusual orchestral arrangements of Intermezzos Op.116 No.4 and Op. 117 No.1. These Intermezzos are as beautiful for the orchestra as the originals are for the piano."Report Abuse