BRAHMS Symphonies Nos 3 & 4

Record and Artist Details

Composer or Director: Johannes Brahms

Genre:

Orchestral

Label: LSO Live

Media Format: Super Audio CD

Media Runtime: 77

Mastering:

DDD

Catalogue Number: LSO0737

LSO0737. BRAHMS Symphonies Nos 3 & 4

Tracks:

Composition Artist Credit
Symphony No. 3 Johannes Brahms, Composer
Johannes Brahms, Composer
London Symphony Orchestra
Valery Gergiev, Conductor
Symphony No. 4 Johannes Brahms, Composer
Johannes Brahms, Composer
London Symphony Orchestra
Valery Gergiev, Conductor
Brahms and Gergiev could hardly be described as natural bedfellows but there were moments in the Third Symphony where the illicitness of unnatural bedfellows generated a certain frisson. Not so the Fourth, which is lamentable and quite one of the worst performances I’ve ever heard of the piece.

At least the Third demonstrates resilience and muscularity, and in the vaulting and all-important theme of the first movement an undeniable sweep, relaxing most invitingly into the mellifluous clarinet of the second subject. But when one considers the recent revelations of Riccardo Chailly’s cycle, one wakes up to the critical difference that where Gergiev is merely pointing up the age-old romantic view of Brahms, Chailly is exploring its rigour and radicalism. So Gergiev’s over-emphatic rubatos and over-egged dramatics sound hackneyed, with the allegros of the outer movements feeling sweaty and exhausting where Chailly is exhilarating. I think of British Rail’s attribution to the wrong kind of snow: this is the wrong kind of romanticism. The third movement’s poco allegretto (poco?) sounds languid and soupy, and maybe even a little wishful of finding a place in a Tchaikovsky ballet.

The Fourth is not even inappropriate but rather enervating and lifeless, with a first movement that displays a total lack of uplift and engagement; the tentative exposition is disappointing from a world-class orchestra. The glorious second movement sounds plodding and uningratiating, with even Gergiev’s grunting failing to encourage uplift in its loftiest pages. At least there’s a touch of giocoso about the scherzo; but, following one of Gergiev’s signature attaccas into the finale (why in this case?), the most inspirational movement of the piece is episodic rather than evolving. But Gergiev had lost me in the first movement.

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