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Brahms: The Four Symphonies / Abbado, Berlin Philharmonic


Release Date: 08/19/2008 
Label:  Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog #: 435683   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Marjana Lipovsek
Conductor:  Claudio Abbado
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic OrchestraBerlin Radio ChorusErnst Senff Chamber Choir
Number of Discs: 4 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Abbado’s cycle, completed in the spring of 1992 with the release of Symphony No. 4, was an impressive contribution to the catalog. These are big, passionate, sure-footed readings that are notable both for their magnificence of tone and their unimpeded sense of flow. Abbado shows plenty of grip in his approach, and is able to make some surprising points along the way – as in the first movement coda of the Third Symphony, where he ratchets up the tension just as one might expect him to relax.

In addition to his clear grasp of each symphony’s line of action, Abbado has a generous feel for the expressive content, and he exhibits loving, though not excessive, attention to detail. He wisely eschews the exposition repeat in the
Read more first movement of Symphony No. 1, but observes those in the Second and Third. The only major drawback to the set is the stodgy tempo he adopts in the final movement of Symphony No.2, which narrowly but conclusively misses the essence of Allegro con spirito.

There is something very beautiful about the playing of the Berlin juggernaut in these performances; the power of the old days under Karajan is still evident, but there is more of an inner glow. The string texture is not plush as before, but has a grain to it that sounds positively Viennese.

DG’s engineers are to be commended for the recordings, which are still among the best to come from the Philharmonie since it became the orchestra’s principal taping venue. But best of all, perhaps, is the sound they capture in Symphony No. 4, which was recorded in the Schauspielhaus in what used to be East Berlin – and as a hall seems to echo the sound of the old Philharmonie that was destroyed during World War II.

– Ted Libbey, author of The NPR Guide to Building a Classical CD Collection Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Academic Festival Overture in C minor, Op. 80 by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  Claudio Abbado
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1880; Austria 
2.
Gesang der Parzen, Op. 89 by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  Claudio Abbado
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Berlin Radio Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1882; Austria 
Date of Recording: 11/1990 
Venue:  Berlin Philharmonie 
Length: 12 Minutes 33 Secs. 
Language: German 
3.
Symphony no 1 in C minor, Op. 68 by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  Claudio Abbado
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1855-1876; Austria 
4.
Alto Rhapsody, Op. 53 by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Marjana Lipovsek (Alto)
Conductor:  Claudio Abbado
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Ernst Senff Chamber Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1869; Austria 
Date of Recording: 09/1988 
Venue:  Berlin Philharmonie 
Length: 13 Minutes 4 Secs. 
Language: German 
5.
Symphony no 2 in D major, Op. 73 by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  Claudio Abbado
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1877; Austria 
6.
Tragic Overture, Op. 81 by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  Claudio Abbado
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1880; Austria 
7.
Song of Destiny, Op. 54 by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  Claudio Abbado
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Ernst Senff Chamber Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1868-1871; Austria 
Date of Recording: 09/1989 
Venue:  Berlin Philharmonie 
Length: 16 Minutes 53 Secs. 
Language: German 
8.
Symphony no 3 in F major, Op. 90 by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  Claudio Abbado
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1883; Austria 
9.
Variations in B flat major on a theme by Haydn, Op. 56a "St. Anthony" by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  Claudio Abbado
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1873; Austria 
10.
Nänie, Op. 82 by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  Claudio Abbado
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Berlin Radio Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1880-1881; Austria 
Date of Recording: 09/1991 
Venue:  Schauspielhaus, Berlin 
Length: 13 Minutes 52 Secs. 
Language: German 
11.
Symphony no 4 in E minor, Op. 98 by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  Claudio Abbado
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1884-1885; Austria 

Sound Samples

Academic Festival Overture, Op.80: Allegro - L'istesso tempo, un poco maestoso - Animato - Maestoso
Gesang der Parzen, Op.89
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

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