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Brahms: Symphonies, Overtures & Violin Concerto / Dohnanyi, Lindemann, Cleveland Orchestra


Release Date: 04/24/2007 
Label:  Warner Classics   Catalog #: 64159   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Thomas Zehetmair
Conductor:  Christoph von Dohnányi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra
Number of Discs: 4 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 4 Hours 6 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews


Christoph von Dohnányi used to joke ruefully that every time he and the Cleveland Orchestra gave a great concert, George Szell got the credit. Well, these are truly great Brahms performances, in fact better than Szell’s, and he was certainly no slouch in this department. They never have received the acclaim that they deserve, perhaps because they were released on Teldec originally and suffered from spotty availability, but also because no one paid them much attention in a very crowded field. Still, if you compare these readings to the other great Brahms cycles on disc (Levine’s two, Jochum’s two, Klemperer’s, and Wand’s first one), you’ll find that Dohnányi and company have nothing to
Read more fear from the competition.

You can hear right from the start of the First Symphony that this is going to be a superior set of performances (sound clip). The tempo is perfectly judged, and the textures clear even in the densest tuttis, Timpani are rock-solid but never rough, and the strings phrase the long arch of initial melody expressively, passionately, but always sensitive to Brahms’ dynamic nuances. The music has tremendous power without a hint of being forced. Some might say that this approach is too cool and “classical,” not romantic enough in the heavy duty Germanic style of, say, Klemperer or Furtwängler. I prefer to call it sensitive and intelligent, wholly idiomatic, and fabulously played. If you are sympathetic to the approach, then there’s no need to elaborate further because all of the performances maintain the same standard, without a single momentary lapse anywhere. It’s really that simple.

It’s also worth pointing out that this version of the Violin Concerto has in Thomas Zehetmair a soloist completely in tune (literally and figuratively) with the overall approach. The first movement is a model of cogency and ear-catching collaboration between violin and orchestra. After a gorgeously lyrical Adagio, the finale is unusually vivacious and exciting (sound clip). Listen to how Dohnányi does not try to imitate that traditional ritard in the first phrase of the opening melody, letting the soloist personalize the tune, and also to how perfectly balanced the woodwind countermelody sounds against the violin after the first orchestral outburst. The intelligence and subtle virtuosity everywhere in evidence in these performances is just astounding, truly the “art that conceals art.” Excellent engineering projects the music making in the best possible light. Get this inexpensive set while you can.

– David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Symphony no 1 in C minor, Op. 68 by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  Christoph von Dohnányi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1855-1876; Austria 
2.
Symphony no 2 in D major, Op. 73 by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  Christoph von Dohnányi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1877; Austria 
3.
Symphony no 3 in F major, Op. 90 by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  Christoph von Dohnányi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1883; Austria 
4.
Symphony no 4 in E minor, Op. 98 by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  Christoph von Dohnányi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1884-1885; Austria 
5.
Concerto for Violin in D major, Op. 77 by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Thomas Zehetmair (Violin)
Conductor:  Christoph von Dohnányi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1878; Austria 
6.
Academic Festival Overture in C minor, Op. 80 by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  Christoph von Dohnányi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1880; Austria 
7.
Tragic Overture, Op. 81 by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  Christoph von Dohnányi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1880; Austria 
8.
Variations in B flat major on a theme by Haydn, Op. 56a "St. Anthony" by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  Christoph von Dohnányi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1873; Austria 

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