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Brahms: Symponies No 1 & 4 / Bosch, Aachen So

Release Date: 05/29/2007 
Label:  Coviello Classics   Catalog #: 30704   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  Marcus Bosch
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Aachen Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Multi 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.


BRAHMS Symphonies: No. 1 in c; No. 4 in e Marcus Bosch, cond; Aachen SO COVIELLO 30704 (Hybrid multichannel SACD: 78:23) Live: Aachen 12/13–14/2006

My sole previous encounter with Marcus Bosch and the Aachen Symphony Orchestra was an Oehms CD with the Walachowski sisters playing Mozart’s Read more duo-piano concertos (see 30:5). I wasn’t very receptive to that release, but my criticism was not directed at the conductor or the orchestra. Based on the current release, I would be most anxious to hear Bosch and company in what appears to be an ongoing cycle of Bruckner’s symphonies for the Coviello label, because this new Brahms offering is truly outstanding. In fact, but with one exception, it is the exact opposite of everything unfavorable I had to say about Thielemann’s recent Brahms First (see elsewhere).

The exception is that Bosch, like Thielemann, does not observe the first-movement exposition repeat in the First Symphony, something I find difficult to understand in modern performances, even live ones, considering that the exposition is not that long—we’re not talking Schubert Ninth long-windedness here. Other than that, Bosch’s direction is alert, forward-pressing, taut, crisp, energized, and boldly dramatic compared to Thielemann’s slow, sluggish, and deadly dull reading. In the passage beginning around bar 450, marked agitato , Bosch’s timpani cut through the fearsome confrontation of feuding rhythms like javelins being hurled at the combatants. The palm-sweating quotient of this performance is high. The orchestra’s concertmaster delivers a ravishing violin solo in the Andante, and in the Symphony’s concluding peroration, the Aachen’s commanding brass belt out a “Tuba mirum” worthy of raising the dead. The audience certainly rises from their seats and comes alive at the end with well-deserved cheering and bravos.

Bosch’s Fourth is even better. There is no exposition repeat to argue over here; Brahms omitted it. Devoid of either sentimentality or compassion, Bosch’s reading of the score emphasizes the chilling, grim, relentless horror of what may be Brahms’s cruelest work. Tempos, again, are on the brisk side, as the music plunges headlong towards its inevitable catastrophe. Listen to the way the Aachen’s brass and timpani curl their lips and snarl out the last movement’s chaconne progression. The audience is stunned into silence for several seconds after the piece ends before bursting into applause. This is a gripping performance, one that leads me to believe that Marcus Bosch and the Aachen Symphony Orchestra may be one of Germany’s best-kept secrets.

One of the best Brahms symphony releases to come down the pike in a long time. Enthusiastically recommended.

FANFARE: Jerry Dubins
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Works on This Recording

Symphony no 1 in C minor, Op. 68 by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  Marcus Bosch
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Aachen Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1855-1876; Austria 
Date of Recording: 12/2006 
Venue:  Live  Aachen, Germany 
Symphony no 4 in E minor, Op. 98 by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  Marcus Bosch
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Aachen Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1884-1885; Austria 
Date of Recording: 12/2006 
Venue:  Live  Aachen, Germany 

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