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Brahms: Complete Symphonies / Levine, Vienna


Release Date: 02/01/2008 
Label:  Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog #: 449829   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Anne Sofie von Otter
Conductor:  James Levine
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic OrchestraArnold Schoenberg Choir
Number of Discs: 3 
Length:  3 Hours 11 Mins. 

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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews


James Levine is unquestionably a great Brahms conductor (or at least he was, prior to his current "go slow" period). His RCA complete symphony cycle with the Chicago Symphony is one of the best ones, but is only available at present in Japan. This DG set never was released in its entirety in the USA, making its appearance "on demand" from Arkivmusic.com one of the most important and valuable of all of its major-label licensed productions. The performances are stunning, a bit weightier than the Chicago recordings, but still taut, rhythmically sharp, and exciting. Indeed, this is unquestionably the finest complete Brahms cycle from Vienna, a surprising fact when you consider how
Read more many times the orchestra has recorded these works, and with whom (Bernstein, Giulini, Kertesz, Barbirolli, etc).

There are no disappointments anywhere in this set, and there are countless outstanding moments. The very opening of the First Symphony sets the tone: powerful, like Klemperer, but also propulsive. The finale of the Second Symphony shows exactly how to increase excitement toward the end without wild extremes of tempo (not that this can't be fun now and then). The Third and Fourth Symphonies may be the best interpretations of all, particularly the Third, a work that Levine always did particularly well. The opening is wonderfully passionate, the wind playing in the slow movement gorgeous, and the finale epic. This last quality also pervades the Fourth's concluding passacaglia, but never at the expense of necessary forward momentum.

The sonics are big and rich, and very flattering to the orchestra, while the equally sympathetic accounts of the Alto Rhapsody and Tragic Overture make welcome bonuses. Levine, let us not forget, was a student of Szell, and this set reveals him as a particularly apt pupil. Thank God it's back.

--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

1. Symphony no 1 in C minor, Op. 68 by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  James Levine
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1855-1876; Austria 
Venue:  Grosser Saal, Musikv 
2. Symphony no 2 in D major, Op. 73 by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  James Levine
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1877; Austria 
Venue:  Grosser Saal, Musikv 
3. Symphony no 3 in F major, Op. 90 by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  James Levine
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1883; Austria 
Venue:  Grosser Saal, Musikv 
4. Symphony no 4 in E minor, Op. 98 by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  James Levine
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1884-1885; Austria 
Venue:  Grosser Saal, Musikv 
5. Tragic Overture, Op. 81 by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  James Levine
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1880; Austria 
Venue:  Grosser Saal, Musikv 
6. Alto Rhapsody, Op. 53 by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Anne Sofie von Otter (Mezzo soprano)
Conductor:  James Levine
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Arnold Schoenberg Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1869; Austria 
Venue:  Grosser Saal, Musikv 

Featured Sound Samples

Symphony no 1: IV. Adagio...
Symphony no 2: IV. Allegro con spirito
Symphony no 4: I. Allegro non troppo

Sound Samples

Symphony No.1 In C Minor, Op.68: 1. Un poco sostenuto - Allegro - Meno allegro
Symphony No.1 In C Minor, Op.68: 2. Andante sostenuto
Symphony No.1 In C Minor, Op.68: 3. Un poco allegretto e grazioso
Symphony No.1 In C Minor, Op.68: 4. Adagio - Piu andante - Allegro non troppo, ma con brio - Piu allegro
Rhapsody for Alto, Chorus, and Orchestra, Op.53: "Aber abseits wer ist's?" Adagio-Poco Andante-Adagio
Symphony No.2 in D, Op.73: 1. Allegro non troppo
Symphony No.2 in D, Op.73: 2. Adagio non troppo - L'istesso tempo, ma grazioso
Symphony No.2 in D, Op.73: 3. Allegretto grazioso ( Quasi andantino) - Presto ma non assai
Symphony No.2 in D, Op.73: 4. Allegro con spirito
Tragic Overture, Op.81

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