This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.
Notes and Editorial Reviews
Taut, intimate, transparent and rich in incident -- Celibidache obviously loved every note and was not afraid to express that love in interpretative terms.
Most performances conducted by Sergiu Celibidache (or Celi as he was popularly known) harbour at least one incomparable 'Celi moment', and this set includes plenty. In fact, were I to reproduce the reams of notes that I scribbled while listening to these remarkable recordings, I would probably monopolize at least four pages of this month's issue. The man was undoubtedly a phenomenon: he could galvanize, mesmerize, 0 enrapture and insinuate even the most bizarre interpretative ideas into your consciousness. As a musical magician, he was peerless; but as an exponent
of the Classics, he constantly courted controversy. He abandoned the recording studio soon after the war, and it is only thanks to his son and family that the flood of pirate Celi CDs can at last be challenged by superior authorized alternatives.
Celibidache's Brahms has been an occasional presence on the 'unofficial' LP/CD scene for years, but this particular set is better played and better produced (bar one or two audible edits) than anything that preceded it. Firstly, the recorded balance is excellent. Textures are transparent (the woodwinds especially), instrumental perspectives are unusually true and the incredible force of fully scored passages...
For the Fourth Symphony...the slow, sweet centre of the movement is addressed in almost mystical terms... At the beginning of the second movement, Celi's ear for balance benefits oboes and clarinets and there is another of those slow-burning string crescendos, from 304". The glorious second subject (4'26") could hardly have been more beautifully played, and yet when it returns later on (at 908"), supposedly 'expressive and a little louder', the dynamic level is far too low. Both the third and fourth movements accommodate the conductor's penchant for trance-like slow episodes, the third at 306" (thus making the return of the giocoso element doubly effective), and the finale, for the slow sequence that starts with the flute variation (at 302"). Celi also inserts a quaint diminuendo prior to the finale's first variation. Cumulatively, the Fourth Symphony is taut, intimate, transparent and rich in incident, and only sometimes deprived of the 'long' view.
Remarkable, inspiring, exasperating — Celibidache was all of these, and more. And if the overall approach was sometimes excessively interventionist, you learn so much from listening that eccentricities soon cease to register... [He] obviously loved every note of Brahms's symphonies (although he omits all three first-movement repeats) and was not afraid to express that love in interpretative terms.
-- Gramophone [5/1999]
Works on This Recording
Symphony no 4 in E minor, Op. 98 by Johannes Brahms
Southwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra
Written: 1884-1885; Austria
Date of Recording: 03/23/1974
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