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Brahms: Complete Symphonies [Blu-ray Video]

Brahms: Complete Symphonies [Blu-ray Video]

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The Brahms interpretations of Paavo Järvi, the Grammy Award-winning Estonian-American conductor, and his Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen have been receiving the highest public and critical acclaim. “A Brahms revelation“ was the headline in the New Yorker, for the Zeit it’s “a reference recording“ and the Hamburger Abendblatt wrote “the greatest experts of Brahms come from Bremen (die besten Brahms Versteher kommen aus Bremen)“. The Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen perform Brahms nowadays exactly to the size that the composer himself was accustomed to at the time. This interpretation puts Brahms´ symphonies in a new light, which is explored in the additional documentary through the eyes of the musicians and their artistic director Paavo Järvi.



These performance are all first class. In fact I am not sure when I enjoyed a new cycle as much as this one. The filming is discreet, with relatively few angles for editors to choose from; there is nothing that detracts from the music itself, once one settles in to the film’s style.

The First Symphony has a compelling line from start to finish, partly due to the modern swift tempo, and partly because Järvi rarely lingers to admire the passing beauties on the symphonic journey.

The Second Symphony manages to be both warmly pastoral and symphonically compelling, again thanks to Järvi’s judgement of tempo, and many fine contributions from within all sections of the band.

The Third is the least played but possibly most loved of all four works Järvi suggests, and everyone plays it con amore. There is a bittersweet yearning tenderness to the third movement here especially, but there is plenty of fire when needed. He drives the finale on with a classical sense that each episode must be accommodated within the basic tempo, right up until the symphony’s coda, when the work’s opening theme returns in ghostly guise, then fades poetically away.

The performance of Symphony No. 4 is well up to the level of its three predecessors. It is also the one where I expect a certain massiveness at some moments that the smaller forces cannot deliver. You will not hear dense saturated string tone for the second movement’s lovely theme on the cellos, or at the return of the opening theme on divided violas (when we have but five to begin with). But these passages work perfectly well, and the leaner Brahms is arguably most suited to the Fourth with its roots partly in the Baroque era. The scherzo is very lively but still the feeling is giocoso as marked. But if you want one movement to judge the quality of the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie players as individuals and as a group, this work’s passacaglia finale would be as good a place as any.

If the original-scale approach appeals, then this Järvi set is well worth investigating.

– MusicWeb International (Roy Westbrook)
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  • Release Specifications

    • Number of Discs: 1
    • Release Date:
    • Label: C Major Entertainment
    • UPC/Barcode: 814337013509
    • Item Number: 735004