Author Topic: Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)  (Read 146220 times)

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Offline vers la flamme

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Re: Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)
« Reply #1020 on: August 25, 2019, 02:37:24 PM »
I've heard a few of the Hyperion recordings (the Raphael Ensemble sextets, the Thea King clarinet sonatas, etc) and they were all good. That may be the one to get, though it is a bit on the pricey side. That Rubinstein box looks excellent! I could use a good recording of the piano concertos, and I am a fan of Rubinstein generally speaking. May have to go for this. Man, I'm really getting a lot of these Sony/RCA budget boxes lately, with the white box artwork. Only thing that annoys me is that there is no booklet.

The more I think about it, though, it may be better to work through these works one disc at a time. Brahms' chamber music can be dense, and I don't want to completely flood myself with it. I suppose the string quartets would be as good a place as any to start, so I'll look for a good recording with all of them.

Offline jwinter

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Re: Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)
« Reply #1021 on: August 25, 2019, 05:37:16 PM »
This is worth a look if you want an old-school version of the string music..... if the Rubinstein appeals, this might complement it nicely



There's also this, which I don't have, but seems to have some nice performances....

The man that hath no music in himself,
Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds,
Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils.
The motions of his spirit are dull as night,
And his affections dark as Erebus.
Let no such man be trusted.

-- William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

Offline Herman

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Re: Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)
« Reply #1022 on: August 25, 2019, 10:38:24 PM »
Re: the chamber music, you could also start with the Piano Trios and get the cheap reissue on DG by the Beaux Arts Trio, or the Suk Trio on Decca. Both are vintage recordings, but they're just classics.

Today's performance practice for Brahms tends to show more of the wildness in his music and less of the "autumnal" thing, which is particularly a hazard in the clarinet-led pieces, where the market has been dominated for decades by Karl Leister who was very much a champion of the autumnal mellowness, pretty much ironing out all the rage that's in Brahms' later music. So, by the time you get to the clarinet music I would recommend getting a 21st C recording. Sharon Kam and the Jerusalem Qt is a good one, for instance.

Offline vers la flamme

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Re: Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)
« Reply #1023 on: August 26, 2019, 01:10:38 AM »
Re: the chamber music, you could also start with the Piano Trios and get the cheap reissue on DG by the Beaux Arts Trio, or the Suk Trio on Decca. Both are vintage recordings, but they're just classics.

Today's performance practice for Brahms tends to show more of the wildness in his music and less of the "autumnal" thing, which is particularly a hazard in the clarinet-led pieces, where the market has been dominated for decades by Karl Leister who was very much a champion of the autumnal mellowness, pretty much ironing out all the rage that's in Brahms' later music. So, by the time you get to the clarinet music I would recommend getting a 21st C recording. Sharon Kam and the Jerusalem Qt is a good one, for instance.

Ah, interesting comments. Here I was thinking that old fashioned recordings would be the way to go, considering (among other things) my love for Klemperer's performances of the symphonies. Perhaps this emphasis on "autumnal", smoothed over sounds in his chamber music has been holding me back from enjoying some of the chamber music. I think I definitely know what you mean when you say that. I haven't been impressed much by the clarinet music to date, and I definitely have not heard any rage in much of it.

Well, in any case, seems Brahms, like Beethoven, is a pretty versatile composer who rewards a variety of interpretations. Just going to have to use my ears then and figure out what I like and what I don't.

Online Mandryka

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Re: Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)
« Reply #1024 on: August 26, 2019, 01:38:34 AM »
Ah, interesting comments. Here I was thinking that old fashioned recordings would be the way to go, considering (among other things) my love for Klemperer's performances of the symphonies. Perhaps this emphasis on "autumnal", smoothed over sounds in his chamber music has been holding me back from enjoying some of the chamber music. I think I definitely know what you mean when you say that. I haven't been impressed much by the clarinet music to date, and I definitely have not heard any rage in much of it.

Well, in any case, seems Brahms, like Beethoven, is a pretty versatile composer who rewards a variety of interpretations. Just going to have to use my ears then and figure out what I like and what I don't.

Well if you want seriously old fashioned then you need to hear this, because it’s an attempt to reproduce the sort of performance that Brahms had in mind when he wrote the music.

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Offline vers la flamme

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Re: Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)
« Reply #1025 on: August 26, 2019, 01:42:35 AM »
Well if you want seriously old fashioned then you need to hear this, because it’s an attempt to reproduce the sort of performance that Brahms had in mind when he wrote the music.


I'm not sure if historically-informed and old-fashioned mean the same thing in most cases, but there is more chance for those spheres to overlap in the case of Brahms... considering some of the "old-fashioned" conductors of the early recording age actually knew the composer (I believe Klemperer, for instance, may have met him a few times as a youth).

Anyway, it looks great. The only Brahms symphony recordings I have are very old (with dated audio, mono or early stereo in the case of Klemperer). I'll have to check this out in contrast.

Online Jo498

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Re: Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)
« Reply #1026 on: August 26, 2019, 01:50:57 AM »
the "autumnal" thing might have been exaggerated occasionally but for the clarinet works I actually think it is mostly appropriate or at least not a distortion.
I certainly disagree that older recordings throughout stress this aspect of Brahms. There is nothing autumnal about the piano quintet or the g minor and c minor piano quartets with Rubinstein/Guarneri (although I find them a little to relaxed in the sunny A major). These recordings and the violin sonatas with Szeryng are marvellous and the trios and cello sonatas at least very good. Same goes for the solo pieces and the piano concerti with Reiner and Krips respectively are also the best Rubinstein versions according to many commentators (and at least the 2nd with Krips is very high on almost any list of best recordings of this piece).

As for the string quartets, I believe that their "thorniness" has also been exaggerated (by commentators or listeners more than by musicians) but I don't find them the best place to start either.
Struck by the sounds before the sun,
I knew the night had gone.
The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
(Bob Dylan)

Online Jo498

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Re: Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)
« Reply #1027 on: August 26, 2019, 02:06:00 AM »
Not sure about Klemperer, but probably Weingartner. Rubinstein played either for Brahms as a very young kid or at least played with people from Brahms' circle in the early 1900s.
Fritz Busch studied with Steinbach who had been one of the main Brahms conductors while the composer was still alive. And there are also pupils of Joseph Joachim etc. Generally we have plenty of recordings of musicians born between the 1860s and 1890s who learned their trade when Brahms was either still alive or very recently passed away and who grew up in the musical world of Austria and Germany before WW 1. (To get a general impression of this culture (and especially of ca. 1900 Vienna) read (the beginning of) Stefan Zweig's memoirs "The world of yesterday")
Struck by the sounds before the sun,
I knew the night had gone.
The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
(Bob Dylan)

Offline amw

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Re: Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)
« Reply #1028 on: August 26, 2019, 02:30:04 AM »
For the string quartets/quintets/sextets there is also a very good 4CD set by the Verdi Quartet and some friends, and for the piano trios and quartets there's another very good 6CD set by the Gould Trio and some friends. (I suppose the apocryphal A major trio, first version of the B major trio and arrangements of the string sextets are not strictly necessary, but they are nice to have.)

Apart from that you can pick your favourite single discs of the violin, clarinet and cello sonatas. My recs are respectively Pamela Frank/Peter Serkin, Alan Hacker/Richard Burnett (NB period instruments), and Miklós Perényi/Zoltán Kocsis but you probably gotta find your own.

Offline Herman

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Re: Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)
« Reply #1029 on: August 26, 2019, 02:49:49 AM »
Ah, interesting comments. Here I was thinking that old fashioned recordings would be the way to go, considering (among other things) my love for Klemperer's performances of the symphonies.

well, "old-fashioned" comes in many shapes and forms. Every generation of musicians tries to perform the music the way Brahms intended it (with exceptions like Glenn Gould, whose Brahms intermezzi disc is yum BTW), and yet they are different eacht time.

Beaux Arts and Suk are both typical postwar classicism, reacting against the prewar expressive excesses (like Rubinstein already did). I think we are currently enjoying a reaction against this type of playing, with more room for what I call Brahms' rage first perhaps against the Clara thing and later "against the dying of the light".

In the symphonies I kind of like the way Kubelik / BRSO and Haitink / Boston handle the hardships of navigating Brahms' symphonic sound world. Both conductors would be lateish representatives of postwar classicism.

Online Biffo

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Re: Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)
« Reply #1030 on: August 26, 2019, 03:20:53 AM »
Pierre Monteux played the viola in a French quartet that performed one on the quartets for Brahms. Monteux recalled Brahms saying 'It takes the French to play my music properly. The Germans all play it much too heavily'.

Monteux was apparently influenced as a conductor by Nikisch, as was Adrian Boult though the latter thought that Nikisch made Brahms 'too exciting'.

I am sure it is significant in some way that a particular conductor performed for Brahms or heard Brahms perform or was a pupil of someone who knew Brahms etc, if only because they were part of the same musical culture. However, how does it relate to recordings they made in the 1950s and 60s? Did their interpretations remain unchanged over 60 years or so? Some conductors slowed down with age.

Offline vers la flamme

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Re: Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)
« Reply #1031 on: August 26, 2019, 02:18:54 PM »
Opinions on Furtwängler's Brahms symphonies? I think I am going to listen through to the Brahms cycle I have of his sometime in the near future. I'm still obsessed with the Klemperer cycle but don't want to wear it out.

Offline amw

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Re: Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)
« Reply #1032 on: August 26, 2019, 02:40:38 PM »
His Berlin Phil 1951 recording of the First Symphony is my reference recording for that piece, however he's pretty variable and I'm not a massive fan of the rest of the recordings I've heard for various reasons.

Offline Que

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Re: Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)
« Reply #1033 on: August 31, 2019, 01:02:39 PM »
His Berlin Phil 1951 recording of the First Symphony is my reference recording for that piece, however he's pretty variable and I'm not a massive fan of the rest of the recordings I've heard for various reasons.

Agreed. The 1st from '51 is amazing, his other Brahms recordings are rather uneven.
And this is coming from a Furtwängler fan... 8)

Opinions on Furtwängler's Brahms symphonies? I think I am going to listen through to the Brahms cycle I have of his sometime in the near future. I'm still obsessed with the Klemperer cycle but don't want to wear it out.

I'm a big fan of the Klemperer cycle.  :) 
Other favourites: Walter mono NYPO (Sony), Haitink/RCO (Philips/Universal), Kubelik/BRSO (Orfeo).

Q

Online Mandryka

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Re: Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)
« Reply #1034 on: September 02, 2019, 11:57:19 AM »
Opinions on Furtwängler's Brahms symphonies? I think I am going to listen through to the Brahms cycle I have of his sometime in the near future. I'm still obsessed with the Klemperer cycle but don't want to wear it out.

The 1945 Brahms 2 is outstandingly original in its vision, because it takes this normally sunny music and finds something much more complicated in it. The BPO 1943 Brahms 4 is tremendously inspired music making. I don’t know anything about 3.

 Whether you like them or not no one can say, these are all documents of imaginative music making and I think are worth hearing.
« Last Edit: September 02, 2019, 12:00:54 PM by Mandryka »
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Online Jo498

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Re: Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)
« Reply #1035 on: September 02, 2019, 10:39:43 PM »
1943 4th, 1945 2nd and a 1951 1st with the North German Radio Orchestra are all collected in the Music and Arts box. Not sure I have heard a Berlin from 1951 but I have another live one, supposedly 1952, Titania-Palast, Berlin but I am not sure about current availability.
Struck by the sounds before the sun,
I knew the night had gone.
The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
(Bob Dylan)

Offline amw

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Re: Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)
« Reply #1036 on: September 05, 2019, 01:50:29 AM »
The 1945 Brahms 2 is outstandingly original in its vision, because it takes this normally sunny music and finds something much more complicated in it. The BPO 1943 Brahms 4 is tremendously inspired music making. I don’t know anything about 3.
I've heard a 3 from... 1947? 1948? sometime around then and recall having mixed feelings about it—found the interpretation too leaden in some parts as I recall.

The 1945 Brahms 2 was a top contender in the blind comparison a few years back (and I liked it, although at the time less than Walter or Dohnányi).

The 1951 Brahms 1 from Berlin is in the BPO 100 year box and several other DG releases.

Online Jo498

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Re: Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)
« Reply #1037 on: September 05, 2019, 02:20:35 AM »
According to this discography, from 1951 there is only the North German Radio for Brahms 1st. The next one is Berlin, Titania-Palast 1952 (this was on DG).

http://lee.classite.com/music/Furtwangler/furtwangler-discography-2.htm
Struck by the sounds before the sun,
I knew the night had gone.
The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
(Bob Dylan)

Offline vers la flamme

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Re: Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)
« Reply #1038 on: September 16, 2019, 01:04:57 AM »
Are there any fans of the German Requiem...? I know this is one of Brahms' big, early-ish works. I find it beautiful, but somewhat difficult. I have three different recordings of it, but have only made it from start to finish through one of them, one time. The ones I have are Klemperer (probably the best of the trio), Gardiner (which I like, but find too quiet and a bit too rigid), and Karajan/Berlin from the 1960s, with Gundula Janowitz. I'm listening to the latter now. I think this one is beautiful, but the chorus and orchestra is a bit lacking in definition, sometimes sounding like a huge blur of sound. I'll also add that I remain unconvinced by HvK's recordings of the symphonies, for the most part.

So how do we feel about this work? Is it your favorite Brahms piece? What are your favorite performances?
« Last Edit: September 16, 2019, 01:07:36 AM by vers la flamme »

Online Biffo

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Re: Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)
« Reply #1039 on: September 16, 2019, 02:10:25 AM »
I am not sure which is my favourite Brahms piece (possibly the Clarinet Quintet) but the German Requiem is up there near the top. I have recordings from Gardiner (1st attempt), Rattle, Kubelik, Kempe, Kletzki, Previn, Klemperer, Sawallisch and Herreweghe; I also have the chamber version from Christophers and The Sixteen. Out of that lot Kempe, Klemperer and Sawallisch are the favourites and if you twisted my arm would probably I would probably go for Sawallisch (Orfeo recording).

I have heard it live conducted by Sawallisch and Solti and an amateur performance decades ago that first got me into the work.