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Brahms: Orchestral Works

Brahms: Orchestral Works

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This boxed set brings together Thomas Dausgaard and the Swedish Chamber Orchestra’s cycle of Brahms’ symphonies, originally released as four separate discs. Each symphony is coupled with carefully selected works to provide a well-rounded idea of the composer’s orchestral output.

Favorites such as the two concert overtures are included – the laughing and the weeping one, to paraphrase Brahms himself – as well as the beloved Haydn Variations (on a theme likely not by Haydn at all…). Another perennial favorite is the Alto Rhapsody, here with Anna Larsson singing the solo part, but there are also less-heard works – Brahms’s orchestrations of his own Liebeslieder-Walzer for instance, and of six songs by Schubert.

Throughout the set, the composer’s Hungarian Dances run like a thread. Brahms's orchestrations of Nos. 1, 3 and 10 have pride of place on disc 1, with the remaining 18, in much praised orchestral versions by Dausgaard, spread over the remaining three discs. In reviews of the individual discs, critics used words such as ‘freshness’, ‘transparency’, and ‘urgency’ to describe the performances, with Fanfare expressing pleasure at hearing ‘Brahms from the edge of one's seat’.


Exciting in quite a different way is Thomas Dausgaard’s invigorating cycle of Brahms symphonies (with interesting additions) with the Swedish Chamber Orchestra. ‘The real purpose of using a small orchestra’, Dausgaard told Andrew Mellor regarding his recording of Brahms’s Second, ‘is to allow us to appreciate all the music that’s there, so that it comes to life in every corner, rather than becoming a mesh of sound'...Dausguaard [conducts] with a sense of style.

-- Gramophone

If you are sympathetic to the ideas that Brahms’s orchestral works can be played successfully by a smaller ensemble, and that the music does not lose its effectiveness when somewhat faster tempos are used, then there is no reason not to explore what Dausgaard and the Swedish Chamber Orchestra have done here. He is an intelligent conductor who infuses his ideas with personality, and Brahms is in good, un-arthritic hands. The recordings, made between 2011 and 2018 in the Örebro Concert Hall, sound wonderful.

-- Fanfare

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  • Release Specifications

    • Number of Discs: 4
    • Release Date:
    • Label: BIS
    • UPC/Barcode: 7318599925561
    • Item Number: BIS-2556