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Brahms: The Symphonies / Solti, Chicago Symphony Orchestra


Release Date: 02/11/1992 
Label:  Decca   Catalog #: 430799   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 4 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 3 Hours 19 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Georg Solti’s career on disc was a spotty one despite the acclaim he received during his lifetime, never mind the support from Decca. In my opinion, this Brahms cycle remains the finest single thing that he ever did: more consistently successful than his Mahler, Bruckner, or Beethoven. There isn’t a weak performance anywhere in the set. I offer as a brief sample the opening of the Third Symphony because, although no rule lacks exceptions, conductors who succeed with this symphony generally do well with all of the others too, and this is an extremely fine Third Symphony.

But to start at the beginning: the First Symphony has a Klemperer-like solidity in its outer movements, and a more relaxed, even sentimental tone to the two
Read more inner movements that’s not at all inappropriate. The Second Symphony is beautifully paced, and in the Adagio Solti’s success as an Elgar conductor really makes itself felt in his “nobilmente” handling of the main theme. The finale is excitingly swift, as is that of the Third Symphony (here’s another rule: much longer than nine minutes and we’re usually in trouble). As for the Fourth Symphony, this is the one performance that has occasioned some controversy on account of the unusually slow tempo for the second movement—it actually lasts a few seconds longer than the opening Allegro non troppo—but you can’t deny how beautifully played it is, nor how convincingly Solti sustains it.

The two overtures make a welcome bonus (perhaps the “Tragic” is a touch too heavy), though there was still plenty of disc time for the Haydn Variations as well, had they been available. There are many fine Brahms cycles, and if this one isn’t the best, it’s certainly up there. Similarly, if none of these versions of the symphonies represents a “reference recording”, they are all consistently excellent. The sonics are also some of the warmest and most natural that Decca offered Solti in Chicago. This, then, remains a worthy testament to his art, and to Brahms.

-- 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:  Sir Georg Solti
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1855-1876; Austria 
2.
Symphony no 2 in D major, Op. 73 by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1877; Austria 
3.
Symphony no 3 in F major, Op. 90 by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1883; Austria 
4.
Symphony no 4 in E minor, Op. 98 by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1884-1885; Austria 
5.
Tragic Overture, Op. 81 by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1880; Austria 
6.
Academic Festival Overture in C minor, Op. 80 by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1880; Austria 

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
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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