Notes and Editorial Reviews
How pleasant it is to be able to welcome a new recording of a Brahms symphony with almost total enthusiasm. The sessions took place before the BPO elected Abbado as their Chief Conductor, but the orchestra responds with unmistakable enthusiasm to the Italian conductor, and one hopes for a long and fruitful partnership.
The BPO's sound under Abbado is different from the Karajan sound. It still has a wonderful depth and sonority, but whereas Karajan encouraged a homogeneous, ultra-refined quality Abbado persuades the orchestra to play with more separated, slightly lighter textures, and a greater translucency. In the symphony's first movement Abbado opts for a good, spacious middle-of-the-road tempo, and lets the music unfold
easily and lyrically, but with affectionate care. The music-making is quite unidiosyncratic and direct, but develops genuine fire and passion at climaxes. In the second movement the basic tempo is even a little on the slow side, but there is still an appealing lightness and a quiet, glowing quality in the orchestral sound. Abbado gently but firmly persuades the music on, maintaining an adroit balance between warmth of expression and clarity. The third movement has good balance and clarity, too, and if the middle section lacks its customary eager, crisp quality there is still plenty of vitality in the movement overall.
It is only in the last movement that I feel any real reservation about Abbado's performance. The tempo is again a little on the slow side, and although the music is neatly projected and shaped with great skill I somehow feel that Abbado is deliberately holding the movement's impetus back, perhaps in the interests of structure and the balance of the work as a whole. In any event there is just a slightly tame feel to the finale, and the climax doesn't quite have its usual impact. But in general it's a most satisfying performance of the symphony, very well recorded.
-- Gramophone [2/1990]
Works on This Recording
Alto Rhapsody, Op. 53 by Johannes Brahms
Marjana Lipovsek (Alto)
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,
Ernst Senff Choir
Written: 1869; Austria
Symphony no 2 in D major, Op. 73 by Johannes Brahms
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Written: 1877; Austria
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