Author Topic: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?  (Read 28827 times)

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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
« Reply #81 on: May 27, 2011, 06:00:50 AM »
I made my comment about Rattle being slow because I thought (mistakenly) he was the slowest I own -- here's a random selection I looed at:

Mravinski --10,10
Abbado 10.02
Mengelberg 9,36
Weingartner 9, 42
Kempe (Testament) 10,12
Furtwangler 9,21
Gardiner 9,35

In fact there are  three which I own which is longer than Rattle's: Bruno Walters New York (10,50);  Max Fiedler's at 10,51, Celibidache's EMI, and Victor "The Tortoise" De Sabata who chalks an astonishing 11,56.

I've not checked everyone I have -- Toscanini and Harnoncourt and Klemperer's EMI  are in Marseilles  and I'm in London.



« Last Edit: May 27, 2011, 06:29:26 AM by Mandryka »
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Drasko

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Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
« Reply #82 on: May 27, 2011, 12:12:59 PM »
Victor "The Tortoise" De Sabata who chalks an astonishing 11,56.

The '39 Berlin recording?? It's 9:25 on my Andante disc and 9:12 on DG website.

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
« Reply #83 on: May 27, 2011, 12:15:55 PM »
The '39 Berlin recording?? It's 9:25 on my Andante disc and 9:12 on DG website.

Yes my mistake -- confused with movement 1. My computer says 9.07
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
« Reply #84 on: May 27, 2011, 12:33:48 PM »
I could not possibly disagree more.  Looking back to the middle of the 20th century, there were self-indulgent conductors like Stokowski and more self-disciplined conductors like Reiner and Szell.  I don't see any difference today.   There are "standard-practice" conductors like Rattle, Gilbert, Haitink, Slatkin, etc.   And there are firebrands like Thomas Fey, Dausgaard, Harnoncourt who create performances that are unmistakable, and which evoke either love or hatred in listeners.  Your stereotypical "it was better in the old days" attitude requires you to fail to recognize the astonishing music-making that is happening today.

Try listening to Norrington's Mahler with no vibrato and then say that again! :D  What you see as latitude I see as simply a different style of performance.  Stokowski has made some brilliant performances, but for most part he was simply the conductor to first have his chance to perform the classical repertoire for a large audience through radio and recordings.  The rest is hero building on your part.

The second half of the past century gave us conductors like Bernstein and Karajan and you think that the days of charismatic conductors were done and over in the first half of the 20th century?  Today we have Gergiev giving us heart on sleeve performances with a smile and a wink, Michael Tilson Thomas taking up Bernstein's legacy of making documentaries to explain the music, and the nation collectively sighs and hopes for Levine to get better.

I agree with nearly everything that mozartfan and Il Barone Scarpia say, but . . .who, other than Harnoncourt,  has been creative recently with Brahms? HAs anyone heard the Brahms  4 from Norrington? Has anyone heard any Brahms from Tilson Thomas, Fey, or  Dausgaard? 


As I'm typing that this still quiet voice at the back of my mind is saying . . . Rattle needs to be given more credit. The recording is haunting me -- it's standing out in my mind amongst all the Brahms 4s I've played in connection with this thread -- Abaddo's for instance, and Gardiner's, just don't seem to be as interesting.
« Last Edit: May 27, 2011, 12:35:33 PM by Mandryka »
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Scarpia

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Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
« Reply #85 on: May 27, 2011, 01:46:20 PM »
I agree with nearly everything that mozartfan and Il Barone Scarpia say, but . . .who, other than Harnoncourt,  has been creative recently with Brahms? HAs anyone heard the Brahms  4 from Norrington? Has anyone heard any Brahms from Tilson Thomas, Fey, or  Dausgaard? 

Mackerras did a Brahms cycle which was supposed to recreate the original performances directed by Brahms.  A good idea, but I thought they were horrible (rare Mack recordings I didn't enjoy). 

Fey has done Haydn and now Mendelssohn, maybe Brahms would be next.  That will be bracing, I expect.   Judging from Dausgaard's Schumann, his Brahms would be a revelation.  Maybe he will do it.

Personally, I'd like to see Brahms done more lyrically, with more of a chamber music texture than is traditional.  Barbirolli's old Wiener Philharmoniker recordings are the closest to this that I've heard.


jlaurson

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Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
« Reply #86 on: May 27, 2011, 01:49:02 PM »
Mackerras did a Brahms cycle which was supposed to recreate the original performances directed by Brahms.  A good idea, but I thought they were horrible (rare Mack recordings I didn't enjoy). 
Fey has done Haydn and now Mendelssohn, maybe Brahms would be next.  That will be bracing, I expect.   Judging from Dausgaard's Schumann, his Brahms would be a revelation.  Maybe he will do it.
Personally, I'd like to see Brahms done more lyrically, with more of a chamber music texture than is traditional.  Barbirolli's old Wiener Philharmoniker recordings are the closest to this that I've heard.

The next "new" Brahms Cycle will be with Andrew Manze... modern instruments, but HIP without -- what he says -- the slavish adherence to the very dubious, doubtful, or even ridiculous 'instructions' of the main sources that have guided HIP Brahms performances so far.

Scarpia

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Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
« Reply #87 on: May 27, 2011, 01:53:57 PM »
The next "new" Brahms Cycle will be with Andrew Manze... modern instruments, but HIP without -- what he says -- the slavish adherence to the very dubious, doubtful, or even ridiculous 'instructions' of the main sources that have guided HIP Brahms performances so far.

What label?

There is Norrington and Gardiner for HIP, Mackerras for semi-HIP and Harnoncourt for quasi-HIP.  Is there any more HIPish Brahms?


DavidW

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Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
« Reply #88 on: May 27, 2011, 02:15:20 PM »
The next "new" Brahms Cycle will be with Andrew Manze... modern instruments, but HIP without -- what he says -- the slavish adherence to the very dubious, doubtful, or even ridiculous 'instructions' of the main sources that have guided HIP Brahms performances so far.

Now THAT I look forward to! :)

Offline Herman

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Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
« Reply #89 on: May 27, 2011, 06:37:11 PM »
I agree with nearly everything that mozartfan and Il Barone Scarpia say, but . . .who, other than Harnoncourt,  has been creative recently with Brahms? HAs anyone heard the Brahms  4 from Norrington? Has anyone heard any Brahms from Tilson Thomas, Fey, or  Dausgaard? 


sorry, I think this is bizarre. So a conductor who does not satisfy your need for something different in a piece you have heard too often perhaps is not "creative"?

maybe it would be a good idea to just shelve all those recordings and go to a good performance of this symphony, regardless of how "creative" the conductor is supposed to be, and you'll probably find it is wonderful anyway.

Offline Dancing Divertimentian

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Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
« Reply #90 on: May 27, 2011, 08:03:39 PM »
Mackerras did a Brahms cycle which was supposed to recreate the original performances directed by Brahms.  A good idea, but I thought they were horrible (rare Mack recordings I didn't enjoy). 

As I've long understood it the so-called "original" performances of the Brahms symphonies by the small bands were nothing more than test runs before the main events took place. Ever critical it would make sense for Brahms to try things out before presenting his symphonies to the wider public (Vienna and beyond).   

So I can see the pitfalls if Mackerras was really trying to do something of a "smallish" ("HIPish"?) nature with his interpretations. Those big-boned, meaty symphonies surely wouldn't go down too well stripped of their trappings...

« Last Edit: May 27, 2011, 08:23:13 PM by Dancing Divertimentian »
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
« Reply #91 on: May 27, 2011, 08:37:21 PM »
sorry, I think this is bizarre. So a conductor who does not satisfy your need for something different in a piece you have heard too often perhaps is not "creative"?

maybe it would be a good idea to just shelve all those recordings and go to a good performance of this symphony, regardless of how "creative" the conductor is supposed to be, and you'll probably find it is wonderful anyway.

Yes you're probably right about that, but there is a certain pleasure from hearing the creativity of these musicians, at least there is for me. You know, when I'm listening to Rattle's Brahms say, I'm listening to Rattle as much as to Brahms, maybe more so. I like to think "oh -- he's done it like that . . . that's weird. . . never heard that effect before. . . and it's quite nice . . . "

I think the truth is I'm at least as interested in the performance than the composition. How performance styles have changed over the past century, how particular musician's conceptions changed over their lifetime: all that is interesting to me.
« Last Edit: May 27, 2011, 09:39:18 PM by Mandryka »
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Scarpia

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Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
« Reply #92 on: May 27, 2011, 09:54:23 PM »
As I've long understood it the so-called "original" performances of the Brahms symphonies by the small bands were nothing more than test runs before the main events took place. Ever critical it would make sense for Brahms to try things out before presenting his symphonies to the wider public (Vienna and beyond).   

So I can see the pitfalls if Mackerras was really trying to do something of a "smallish" ("HIPish"?) nature with his interpretations. Those big-boned, meaty symphonies surely wouldn't go down too well stripped of their trappings...

I think they were trying to emulate the sound of the Mannheim court orchestra, which Brahms genuinely enjoyed.  I think the approach had potential because it would allow the wind parts to emerge as a more dominant part of the sonority.  Ironically, this was one of the rare Telarc recordings which did not have satisfying audio engineering, which may have been what spoiled things for me.

In any case, I think a more "chamber music" Brahms symphony style has potential which was not achieved in those Mackerras recordings.

Offline Herman

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Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
« Reply #93 on: May 27, 2011, 11:16:50 PM »
Yes you're probably right about that, but there is a certain pleasure from hearing the creativity of these musicians, at least there is for me. You know, when I'm listening to Rattle's Brahms say, I'm listening to Rattle as much as to Brahms, maybe more so. I like to think "oh -- he's done it like that . . . that's weird. . . never heard that effect before. . . and it's quite nice . . . "


Yes, I understand. And especially for the recording business it is a quite valid approach.

This 'you've never heard it this way, eh?' approach that annoys me about Rattle.

wilhelm

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Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
« Reply #94 on: May 28, 2011, 01:25:48 AM »
I love Guilini in this Chicago perfomance



but I dont think it can be called "modern".

Really modern is this superb Nagano recording




jlaurson

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Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
« Reply #95 on: May 28, 2011, 02:55:50 AM »
What label?

There is Norrington and Gardiner for HIP, Mackerras for semi-HIP and Harnoncourt for quasi-HIP.  Is there any more HIPish Brahms?

The label will be CPO.

I wasn't even aware of Norrington HIP Brahms. Where? What label? I know there's a Stuttgart Brahms planned with Norrington on Haenssler... but that's not technically HIP.
And I hadn't thought of Harnoncourt as HIP, I suppose.

Btw: Barone Scarpia: Meiningen, not Mannheim Orchestra; This is Brahms, not Mozart. :-) No Mannheim Rocket in Brahms to be found.

Here's the completely unedited 'raw footage' from the interview with deletions and misspellings and such. But FYI:

Quote
And in fact, what’s coming up: we’ve recorded the Brahms Symphonies for CPO, so that’s exciting. We’re just editing those now.

For CPO? What’s the spin on that? Because usually they don’t do just straight forward standard repertoire, do they?

You know, that’s the weird thing. CPO have done so much repertoire of sort as it were around the great composers… and we had this project brewing and we had another company that was interested who in the end said ‘no, we’re sorry, we can’t, we won’t take this’… so CPO said: ‘Why Not’, we’ve done all this work on the unknown composers, perhaps we deserve the chance to do the known ones. And because of my background from the historical performance practice side the idea, our approach was: we’re using modern instruments, it’s a normal, conventional SO, though it’s about the size Brahms was using… he used various sizes in his career and we’re just about sort of in the middle of what he was using... and I was brining in certain aspects of HPP, but it’s not what you’d call an ‘early music performance’. And I think it’s sort of post-early music, post-HIP. Because I think the historical thing has brought us a lot of good information, but it’s time to sort of… absorb, get it back, and make a synthesis again. The world was divided a little bit into the people who were interested in that and those who weren’t. So this is much more in the middle. So I have thought and taken into account the traditions that exist of doing Brahms, the sort of 20th century traditions, and questions which of those are for valid reasons and which are just habits that have grown. And so I was examining about tempo and the way of playing and then bringing in some of the historical thing. So I hope this is going to be, sort of for the first time, trying to get the best of both, trying to re-connect… what has been slightly broken apart.

Perhaps a bit like what has already been done with Beethoven, where that process been under way…

Indeed.

Paavo Jaervi in Bremen [RCA]…

Absolutely… or Osmo Vanska  in Minnesota [BIS]…

Interestingly: Very different, yet clearly a result of knowledge absorbed…

Yes, exactly that. Because I feel it’s the romantic era is where it really gets interesting about these decisions. I think some of the really good work on Beethoven was originally done by people like Norrington… was fantastic. It woke us up to possibilities. And now, as you’re saying, some very fine conductors are doing some very interesting things. But Brahms still hasn’t [been] reconnected.

Well, there are at least 17 “HIP” Beethoven cycles, and there are, to my knowledge, only two HIP Brahms cycles. Gardiner just finished, and Mackerras who did it many years ago…
I suppose he’s never had that focus on him, because people just assumed that Brahms is romantic, anyway.


And the danger is, both the two you mentioned, although I shouldn’t personalize this, there is information that survives… and some of those performances were done with that information in their hand and the baton in the other. And, sorry… that’s not how you do it. And the information is, some of it is very good and some of it is highly flawed. You think of the things of [Fritz] Steinbach, who was a conductor that Brahms, as an old man… well, actually he never got to be an old man… he was what, 63, 64 years old when he died?

But he had that beard that made him look older…
But he only had the beard after the first symphony; that comes with the second symphony…
And before that this absolutely beautiful man… very strong effeminate side to him…

Steinbach was a young conductor and Brahms says: Yes, this is great what you are doing. But of course Steinbach is actually inheriting the von Bülow tradition and the Meiningen Orchestra and putting on concerts at a time where there are not many Brahms symphonies done. The Vienna Philharmonic only played each Brahms Symphony two times in Brahms’ lifetime. Exactly. It’s shocking. So there’s no tradition to work off. Exactly. The tradition is after his death. And then you go to Mainingen, which has a strong contact with Brahms… he conducted it in 30-some concerts, they really knew the music, they studied it with von Bülow, who is an excellent orchestra trainer as well as a great musician…. And then Steinbach comes along and inherits this and supposedly writes things in his scores. Which then his student, called [Walter] Blume… writes a handbook on how to play Brahms. Published twenty five or thirty years after Steinbach is dead, looking at the scores, looking at the marking, remembering what Steinbach taught him, and publishes this thing, ‘this is how you do Brahms’ [Brahms in der Meininger Tradition – seine Sinfonien und Haydn-Variationen in der Bezeichnung von Fritz Steinbach, Stuttgart 1933.]. And this is what they [HIP-Brahmsians] have been using. Publishes it, by the way, in the mid-1930s, when Germany is going through it’s own… let’s face it: it’s examining its heritage and its culture in a rather unusual way… and then these conductors, these HIP people, read this: [in his faux-exalted voice] ‘hah, look at this, this is… this is Brahms’. No. It’s Brahms-through-young-Steinbach-through-old-Steinbach-through-Blume.

Brahms is very grateful to Steinbach because he is actually doing this stuff…

Years later, Steinbach’s student takes these markings—and by the way: the scores have mysteriously disappeared… they don’t exist anymore, so we can’t see these markings—and then publishes a book: ‘this is how it’s done’. You see some very good stuff in it. For example there is a wonderful moment where he says the strings should use down-bows. It’s a place… I can’t actually think of where it is, right now… but we normally bow it [with a sort of up-down-up-down homogeneity, and Steinbach goes down-down-down-down, which is very powerful]… reminds me of the way of Bruckner’s bowings. He will often write this… and people don’t often play it now.

Well, that’s another thing that the HIPs have sort of brought up: that there is a difference between up-bow and down-bow which had been largely eliminated.

But the trouble is, the good information that’s there in Steinbach/Blume, is right next to really terrible information. So Steinbach, if he said this at all, says: You have to re-write these horn parts because we’re missing notes here… put this melody in here, do this, cut that, and, oh, by the way: you don’t do the repeats.

There’s basically, fundamentally flawed information. So if that page is full of rubbish, should you believe the page opposite [that seems to make sense]? So that’s what I’ve done; really question the sources. And that’s what the HIP people are not very good at. They find a source and are immediately enthralled: ‘look at this, it’s says this, let’s do this…’ And what they don’t do is question the worth of the source. They just read it. “Ahhh, it says we should paint our noses red when we play this… so I’m going to paint my nose red.”

Offline Sergeant Rock

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Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
« Reply #96 on: May 28, 2011, 03:06:45 AM »
As I've long understood it the so-called "original" performances of the Brahms symphonies by the small bands were nothing more than test runs before the main events took place.

According to the liner notes in the Mackerras set Brahms actually preferred the smaller string sections in the provincial bands (the better to hear the winds). When the Meiningen Court Orchestra offered to hire more strings for their performance of the Fourth, Brahms declined the offer.

I think the approach had potential because it would allow the wind parts to emerge as a more dominant part of the sonority.  Ironically, this was one of the rare Telarc recordings which did not have satisfying audio engineering, which may have been what spoiled things for me

Apparently I like the Mack set more than you; it's one of my favorites, in fact: the continual but subtle rubato, the portamento, the very prominent and thrilling Vienna F horns.  Unfortunately the winds tend to get submerged in the texture when the full orchestra is playing--the exact opposite of what I would have expected from a recording featuring reduced strings. Timpani is softer, mushier than I prefer too. Other than that I'm quite satisfied with the sound.


In any case, I think a more "chamber music" Brahms symphony style has potential which was not achieved in those Mackerras recordings.

In Mackerras' performance there is an interesting change to the score at the recapitulation of the slow movement's first theme: instead of the entire viola section playing, Mack has just two play. Really magical....and quite chamber-like.

Sarge
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Mahler, you ought to go see it.
he was as f*cked-up as you are."
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Scarpia

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Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
« Reply #97 on: May 28, 2011, 06:14:30 AM »
I wasn't even aware of Norrington HIP Brahms. Where? What label? I know there's a Stuttgart Brahms planned with Norrington on Haenssler... but that's not technically HIP.

Long out of print, for good reason, I assume.



And I hadn't thought of Harnoncourt as HIP, I suppose.
[/quote]

quasi-HIP.  Harnoncourt's historically informed, even if he chooses to ignore history.   :)

Offline Brian

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Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
« Reply #98 on: May 29, 2011, 12:21:07 AM »
According to the liner notes in the Mackerras set Brahms actually preferred the smaller string sections in the provincial bands (the better to hear the winds). When the Meiningen Court Orchestra offered to hire more strings for their performance of the Fourth, Brahms declined the offer.

Heh - at last night's concert, the London Philharmonic played the Fourth with four of each wind instrument and a truly massive string section - ten double basses! I thought, "something about this would make Brahms raise his eyebrow..."

It was funny because the Haydn earlier on the program had been played with period-ish timpani and valveless period trumpets.

Offline Sergeant Rock

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Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
« Reply #99 on: May 29, 2011, 02:38:56 AM »
I know there's a Stuttgart Brahms planned with Norrington on Haenssler...

It's available now....at a nice price...€24 from Amazon DE




Sarge
the phone rings and somebody says,
"hey, they made a movie about
Mahler, you ought to go see it.
he was as f*cked-up as you are."
                               --Charles Bukowski, "Mahler"