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The Music Room => Great Recordings and Reviews => Topic started by: Bruckner is God on May 19, 2011, 02:52:21 AM

Title: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Bruckner is God on May 19, 2011, 02:52:21 AM
What is your recommandation for a modern Brahms 4?
The only recording I have is the Sanderling/SD, which I like very much, but I feel I need a few more recordings of this marvellous work.
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Florestan on May 19, 2011, 03:01:46 AM
Karajan / BPO (early '60 recordings)

Solti / CSO

I've heard praises being sung of Haitink / Concertgebow, but haven't listened myself.

Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: mc ukrneal on May 19, 2011, 03:14:16 AM
Kleiber/VPO is considered by many to be the benchmark. It is was recorded in the early 80's if I remember correctly.
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Florestan on May 19, 2011, 03:15:19 AM
Kleiber/VPO is considered by many to be the benchmark. It is was recorded in the early 80's if I remember correctly.

How is it?
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: mc ukrneal on May 19, 2011, 03:28:01 AM
How is it?
Excellent. I didn't want to go on and on about it as I seem to recall a long discussion of it in the Archives.

EDIT: This is probably the thread I was thinking about: http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,7802.0.html (http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,7802.0.html)
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Daverz on May 19, 2011, 03:33:55 AM
Reiner/RPO.  Recorded by Ken Wilkinson in Walthamstow Town Hall.
(http://images.amazon.com/images/P/B000003GCQ.01.L.jpg)
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Lethevich on May 19, 2011, 03:52:36 AM
Good lord, some of those recordings are ancient ;)

Janowski with Pittsburgh on PentaTone I was tempted to call shockingly good, but Janowski has been producing many phenomonal recordings recently and so it should perhaps come as no surprise. He takes a rock solid approach to the piece, with (to me) an ideal combination of heart and lucid underlining of the work's tight structure, leading a performance of great robustness and dynamism (but without trying to push too much of a 'concept' on the piece). PentaTone have given the recording some very fine audio engineering - the orchestra sounds stunning.
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Scarpia on May 19, 2011, 04:52:54 AM
Karajan / BPO (early '60 recordings)

This is actually my favorite.  He takes the first movement at an unusually slow tempo (uncharacteristic for Karajan) and allows events to unfold in a strikingly vivid fashion.   The Janowski Pentatone series is also superb (the second symphony my favorite from that cycle).  I also like Kertesz/VPO on Decca.
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Bruckner is God on May 19, 2011, 05:13:57 AM
Thanks for the recommandations so far.
What about Jochum's recordings? Maybe not excactly new, but I've heard good things about his versions. I see he recorded the whole cycle twice, with the Vienna Philharmonic and with the London Philharmonic.
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Scarpia on May 19, 2011, 05:18:59 AM
Thanks for the recommandations so far.
What about Jochum's recordings? Maybe not excactly new, but I've heard good things about his versions. I see he recorded the whole cycle twice, with the Vienna Philharmonic and with the London Philharmonic.

The London Philharmonic recordings are very fast, energetic, and a bit sloppy, to my ears.
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: DavidW on May 19, 2011, 05:19:48 AM
Jochum!?  I thought you asked for modern! ;D  If that's the case try Carlos Kleiber

Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Bruckner is God on May 19, 2011, 05:23:13 AM
Jochum!?  I thought you asked for modern! ;D  If that's the case try Carlos Kleiber



I've heard the Kleiber,   but it wasn't my cup of tea. I don't quite know why. Maybe a bit too polished?
 
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: DavidW on May 19, 2011, 05:24:18 AM
Oh you prefer live recordings?  That's a fun, interesting twist on the recs. :)
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Brian on May 19, 2011, 05:36:33 AM
Maybe a bit too polished?

Try James Levine's Chicago cycle on RCA. The complete symphony cycle is available on 4 CDs for about 15 euros or $20 depending on where you are (you also get Piano Concerto No 1 and a German Requiem), and in symphonies 1 and 4 Levine really lets his hair down. Which, given how much hair James Levine has, is saying a lot. Pretty good '70s RCA sound.
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Todd on May 19, 2011, 05:47:52 AM
What is meant by "modern"?  I'll just assume it's a desire for good sound, so I'd suggest:

(http://ec5.images-amazon.com/images/I/51O7Kb7X-oL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)   (http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41yF7iqaYXL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51N%2BnFBrBKL._SL500_AA300_.jpg) (http://ec5.images-amazon.com/images/I/41JyOKH-Z1L._SL500_AA300_.jpg)


Also, I've not yet heard Giulini's VPO recording, though I have every reason to believe it is excellent.  Fortunately, it's being reissued on a budget label.
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on May 19, 2011, 05:57:12 AM
What about Jochum's recordings? Maybe not excactly new, but I've heard good things about his versions. I see he recorded the whole cycle twice, with the Vienna Philharmonic and with the London Philharmonic.

Jochum's first cycle is with Berlin, not Vienna. It's excellent, very lively performances. Recorded in the 1950s, which means mono; but generally very good mono. (No repeats, so it fits conveniently on 2 discs.)
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Xenophanes on May 19, 2011, 10:08:59 AM
Reiner/RPO.  Recorded by Ken Wilkinson in Walthamstow Town Hall.
(http://images.amazon.com/images/P/B000003GCQ.01.L.jpg)

I'll second that! Very taut, very warm performances, and first class recording. Wonderful.

http://www.amazon.com/Brahms-Symphony-Beethoven-Egmont-Overture/dp/B000003GCQ/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1305831834&sr=1-1
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Mn Dave on May 19, 2011, 10:10:28 AM
I'll second that! Very taught, very warm performances, and first class recording. Wonderful.

http://www.amazon.com/Brahms-Symphony-Beethoven-Egmont-Overture/dp/B000003GCQ/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1305831834&sr=1-1

Yes, very fine. And haven't worried about purchasing another version since I obtained it.
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Mandryka on May 19, 2011, 08:59:33 PM
The best recent performance I have heard is Harnoncourt's BPO.

You need to hear Mengelberg and Furtwangler -- at the very least on youtube, so you can decide whether these extraordinary interpretations suit you. I think they are  two of the greatest records of anything ever.

I also like  Max Fiedler, Kempe, Weingartner, Klemperer, Toscanini.

Kempe with BBC preferably.

Has anyone heard Mackerras and Gardiner or Abbado?

Surely  someone has found a good HIP one here
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: zauberharfe on May 20, 2011, 10:07:51 PM
I agree with Mandryka, the Furtwängler (and Mengelberg, De Sabata) version are the best chioces, if you don't insist particularly on 'modern'. Carlos Kleiber is also excellent he has at least 7 Brahms#4 recordings with various orchestras, of which the famous one on DG is far from being the best.

I haven't heard Harnoncourt yet, but I'll give it a try someday soon.
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Mandryka on May 21, 2011, 05:44:15 AM
Another really special one, in very good sound, which I forgot about, is Stokowski with the All American Youth Orchestra. Much much much more free than his Philadelphia recording.
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Herman on May 21, 2011, 11:39:00 AM
it's interesting to see that virtually no one mentions a 'modern' recording, in defiance of the OP.

Does this mean Brahms performance is in such bad shape today?
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Opus106 on May 21, 2011, 11:59:14 AM
Does this mean Brahms performance is in such bad shape today?

It means all is fine and dandy at GMG: most members are simply stating what they like. ;D
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on May 21, 2011, 08:48:09 PM
We CAN have the best of both worlds: greatness in performance mated to greatness in recorded sound (modern).

To me that's Jansons/Oslo (live). 



(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51qKTDlnE7L._SS500_.jpg)



I love how rich and burly the sound is here, with wide dynamics and top-to-bottom symmetry. I'm guessing the acoustics of the Oslo Concert Hall contribute to the overall results as even what Jansons/Oslo there is on EMI (that I've heard) is fantastically recorded.


Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Mandryka on May 21, 2011, 10:07:25 PM
it's interesting to see that virtually no one mentions a 'modern' recording, in defiance of the OP.

Does this mean Brahms performance is in such bad shape today?

Didn't find much interesting in Ratthe's; will try to listen to one of Levine's later today and comment -- I can't remember anything about it! I'm curious about Gielen's because his German Requiem is my favourite recording ever of that difficult music.
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Scarpia on May 21, 2011, 10:13:52 PM
it's interesting to see that virtually no one mentions a 'modern' recording, in defiance of the OP.

Does this mean Brahms performance is in such bad shape today?

Participation in this thread is very sparse, so what I think it means is that this thread has only attracted the attention of that segment of the members who are only interested in museum pieces.
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: zauberharfe on May 22, 2011, 02:47:57 AM
I'm sure you could come up with some modern interpretations which stand comparison with these 'museum pieces', couldn't you ::)
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: DavidW on May 22, 2011, 06:10:24 AM
it's interesting to see that virtually no one mentions a 'modern' recording, in defiance of the OP.

Does this mean Brahms performance is in such bad shape today?

No the OP mentioned Sanderling once and then asked about Jochum, which I thought made it clear that his modern is simply post-WWII.  If he said something like recorded over the last twenty years instead the thread would have looked different.
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Scarpia on May 22, 2011, 06:26:04 AM
I'm sure you could come up with some modern interpretations which stand comparison with these 'museum pieces', couldn't you ::)

Kleiber, Harnoncourt, Kertesz, Dohnanyi, Janowski, Sawalisch, in no particular order.  All can stand comparison with any version I know of (although I would not want to give up my old mono Jochum recording).
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Mandryka on May 22, 2011, 08:41:58 AM
Kleiber, Harnoncourt, Kertesz, Dohnanyi, Janowski, Sawalisch, in no particular order.  All can stand comparison with any version I know of (although I would not want to give up my old mono Jochum recording).

Cool list.

Do you know of Furtwangler, Mengelberg and Stokowski with the All American Youth Orchestra?
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Scarpia on May 22, 2011, 09:35:10 AM
Cool list.

Do you know of Furtwangler, Mengelberg and Stokowski with the All American Youth Orchestra?

I have some curiosity about the Mengelberg, but experience with other recordings doesn't leave me with much enthusiasm to search out those Furtwangler or Stokowski recordings.
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Mandryka on May 22, 2011, 09:48:18 AM
I have some curiosity about the Mengelberg, but experience with other recordings doesn't leave me with much enthusiasm to search out those Furtwangler or Stokowski recordings.

If you are open minded enough to enjoy  Harnoncourt then you will I think very much like the Stokowski -- it is not like his other recordings of Brahms 4. It's as if he allowed himself greater freedom to experiment because he was with a yourth orchestra. If you can upload I will happily share it with you hear.

The Mengelberg is . . . Mengelberg. The Furtwangler is  . . . Furtwangler. You either like their rubato or you don't I suppose.

But the Stokowski is -- sui generis. I don't think I'm exaggerating -- or if so, only a bit  ;)
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: ccar on May 22, 2011, 12:49:50 PM
But the Stokowski is -- sui generis. I don't think I'm exaggerating -- or if so, only a bit  ;)

                                                                         (http://blog.educacional.com.br/audelizefontes/files/2010/04/fantasia-stokowski-300x230.jpg)


Stokowski is sometimes regarded as a second-rate, overindulged “popular” conductor. But, for those who dare, his recordings of the Brahms symphonies may help to change this simplistic view. Mandryka rightly points his "special" All American Youth recording of the 4th. There is also the one from his “historic” Philadelphia cycle, from the 1920-30’s, and a few other from live concerts. But the "modern" Stokowsky Brahms 4ths I would also like to suggest are his last London performances, with the New Philarmonia Orchestra.

Prepare yourself for the ride, fasten your seatbelts and enjoy – for those who never listened it may be an unexpected experience. The orchestral colors are magnificent and no one will believe the drive pulled from that orchestra by a 92 year-old conductor. You may compare the recording of the live concert (BBC - 4 May 1974) with the studio recording (RCA - June 1974). They are both recommendable in my view. The live performance is more electrifying but the studio reveals almost the same energy and a fuller palette of textures and orchestral balance. 
   
These 1974 recordings are not contemporary but the sound quality is very good. And more importantly they are fresh, spontaneous and with real musical fire within – and this is what may defy any preconceived historical, intellectual and interpretative dogmas. So, in that sense, we may also call them “modern”.


                                         (http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51GTQ6Z362L._SL500_AA300_.jpg) (http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/512P1ZJfjgL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: snyprrr on May 22, 2011, 04:35:57 PM
it's interesting to see that virtually no one mentions a 'modern' recording, in defiance of the OP.

Does this mean Brahms performance is in such bad shape today?

I've never really listened to Brahms Symphonies. I just got the Eschenbach from the library. What should I do?
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: DavidW on May 22, 2011, 05:27:48 PM
I've never really listened to Brahms Symphonies. I just got the Eschenbach from the library. What should I do?

Put one of the cds in your cd player and hit play. :)
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Lethevich on May 22, 2011, 05:56:58 PM
I've never really listened to Brahms Symphonies. I just got the Eschenbach from the library. What should I do?

You face a problem ;) As if you dislike what you hear, it could equally be the fault of Eschenbach's unusual approach to the works. It really, really didn't work for me, but some others love it.
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Xenophanes on May 22, 2011, 05:59:52 PM
it's interesting to see that virtually no one mentions a 'modern' recording, in defiance of the OP.

Does this mean Brahms performance is in such bad shape today?

I suppose it depends on your interpretation of the word "modern." For me, it means anything from the stereo era onwards, beginning in the late 1950s, as opposed to older mono recordings issued originally on 78 RPM. That's a rough transition, but mostly adequate.

Of course, some may only want DDD recordings, but that's no guarantee of a superior recording, which seems to me to one of the main reasons people might want a 'modern recording.  Others might only want multichannel recordings which would be quite recent, but that's no guarantee, either. The 'old' Reiner/RPO recording some of us suggested was originally made on excellent open reel equipment and it's really a very fine recording, and the performance is quite wonderful, though it's not the only way to perform the 4th symphony.

One might try Alsop on Naxos for ultramodern sound.
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: kishnevi on May 22, 2011, 07:48:24 PM
I suppose it depends on your interpretation of the word "modern." For me, it means anything from the stereo era onwards, beginning in the late 1950s, as opposed to older mono recordings issued originally on 78 RPM. That's a rough transition, but mostly adequate.

Of course, some may only want DDD recordings, but that's no guarantee of a superior recording, which seems to me to one of the main reasons people might want a 'modern recording.  Others might only want multichannel recordings which would be quite recent, but that's no guarantee, either. The 'old' Reiner/RPO recording some of us suggested was originally made on excellent open reel equipment and it's really a very fine recording, and the performance is quite wonderful, though it's not the only way to perform the 4th symphony.

One might try Alsop on Naxos for ultramodern sound.

I think that's too extended a time period.    You're going back almost sixty years now;  literally more than a lifetime for most of the people now alive on this planet (including myself, although not by much). 

I'd define modern a little more flexibly (ie, without referring to a fixed date),   but with a shorter time period: a modern recording is one produced by artists still active, or recently active. or if you want to stretch it a little further, artists still alive or very recently deceased.    But the time period still reaches back pretty far: for instance, Haitink's 60s recordings would qualify there.  And depending on how you define "recently deceased' or "recently active", Solti as well.

That said, I don't remember any recording of the Brahms 4 that stands out for me .  I have Solti, Rattle, Muti, Eschenbach. and Haitink, and will be shortly ordering Gardiner's (I have the first three in his series already). 
None of them seem worse than any of the others, either.   

In  a pinch, if forced, I might pick Eschenbach, but that's partly for the simple reason that he's the one I've listened to most recently.
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Mandryka on May 22, 2011, 08:03:22 PM
                                                                         (http://blog.educacional.com.br/audelizefontes/files/2010/04/fantasia-stokowski-300x230.jpg)


Stokowski is sometimes regarded as a second-rate, overindulged “popular” conductor. But, for those who dare, his recordings of the Brahms symphonies may help to change this simplistic view. Mandryka rightly points his "special" All American Youth recording of the 4th. There is also the one from his “historic” Philadelphia cycle, from the 1920-30’s, and a few other from live concerts. But the "modern" Stokowsky Brahms 4ths I would also like to suggest are his last London performances, with the New Philarmonia Orchestra.

Prepare yourself for the ride, fasten your seatbelts and enjoy – for those who never listened it may be an unexpected experience. The orchestral colors are magnificent and no one will believe the drive pulled from that orchestra by a 92 year-old conductor. You may compare the recording of the live concert (BBC - 4 May 1974) with the studio recording (RCA - June 1974). They are both recommendable in my view. The live performance is more electrifying but the studio reveals almost the same energy and a fuller palette of textures and orchestral balance. 
   
These 1974 recordings are not contemporary but the sound quality is very good. And more importantly they are fresh, spontaneous and with real musical fire within – and this is what may defy any preconceived historical, intellectual and interpretative dogmas. So, in that sense, we may also call them “modern”.


                                         (http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51GTQ6Z362L._SL500_AA300_.jpg) (http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/512P1ZJfjgL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)

I don't know those recordings ccar. The other Brahms by him I like is the first symphony with the Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra.

Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: jlaurson on May 23, 2011, 05:34:03 AM
What is your recommandation for a modern Brahms 4?
The only recording I have is the Sanderling/SD, which I like very much, but I feel I need a few more recordings of this marvellous work.

If you really mean MODERN, then there's really only Simon Rattle's (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B002AGIEYG/nectarandambr-20) that immediately comes to mind.

http://ionarts.blogspot.com/2010/03/dip-your-ears-no-100.html (http://ionarts.blogspot.com/2010/03/dip-your-ears-no-100.html)

As players of Concertgebouw (!!) said: "That's how we want sound in Brahms; that's Brahms for the 21st Century."

Merciless, gorgeous, hardened stuff.
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Mn Dave on May 23, 2011, 05:49:41 AM
If you really mean MODERN, then there's really only Simon Rattle's (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B002AGIEYG/nectarandambr-20) that immediately comes to mind.

http://ionarts.blogspot.com/2010/03/dip-your-ears-no-100.html (http://ionarts.blogspot.com/2010/03/dip-your-ears-no-100.html)

As players of Concertgebouw (!!) said: "That's how we want sound in Brahms; that's Brahms for the 21st Century."

Merciless, gorgeous, hardened stuff.

I'll wishlist this at Amazon.
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: DavidW on May 23, 2011, 06:29:37 AM
I think Rattle's Brahms 4 sounds perfect, but emotionless, simply bland. :-\
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Florestan on May 23, 2011, 06:35:33 AM
emotionless, simply bland. :-\

it's "for the 21st century", remember?  ;D
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: DavidW on May 23, 2011, 06:37:26 AM
it's "for the 21st century", remember?  ;D

Haha good point! ;D
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Sergeant Rock on May 23, 2011, 07:04:20 AM
I've never really listened to Brahms Symphonies. I just got the Eschenbach from the library.

Houston or Schleswig-Holstein?

Sarge
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: karlhenning on May 23, 2011, 07:05:13 AM
Schleswig-Houston . . . .
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Mn Dave on May 23, 2011, 07:06:29 AM
There's a version conducted by Andrew Davis that I like. It came with some music magazine or other.
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Sergeant Rock on May 23, 2011, 07:20:22 AM
Schleswig-Houston . . . .

Houston, we have a problem...
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Mandryka on May 23, 2011, 08:42:02 AM
Rattle's Brahms 4 is really not so bad. I'm glad to have it.

It's on the  slow side. The orchestra sounds very richly upholstered. It doesn't flow quite so well as with the best Brahmsians. There are, I think some lovely bits in the first movement where time stands still. Rattle has something to say with this symphony - I don't think it's just a cynical run through.

Although it's not a real  favourite, I will be keeping it. I prefer a leaner more taught reading. I hate that plush orchestral sound. But of you like Karajan's BPO Sibelius, for example, you may well be more open to the sound.


I just retrieved Gardiner's and I'll listen tonight.


Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: eyeresist on May 23, 2011, 04:40:54 PM
How often is the first movement really done as an allegro?
 
EDIT: Actually, all his first movements are allegros, but you wouldn't know it by listening.
 
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Herman on May 23, 2011, 04:55:05 PM
I've never really listened to Brahms Symphonies. I just got the Eschenbach from the library. What should I do?

return it in due time
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Herman on May 23, 2011, 04:59:37 PM
If you really mean MODERN, then there's really only Simon Rattle's (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B002AGIEYG/nectarandambr-20) that immediately comes to mind.

http://ionarts.blogspot.com/2010/03/dip-your-ears-no-100.html (http://ionarts.blogspot.com/2010/03/dip-your-ears-no-100.html)

As players of Concertgebouw (!!) said: "That's how we want sound in Brahms; that's Brahms for the 21st Century."

Merciless, gorgeous, hardened stuff.

The Concertgebouw? Where do you get that quote?

The Concertgebouw doesn't even work with Rattle, after one try back in the Eighties.

And merciless and hardened is everything the Concertgebouw does not stand for.

Truth, beauty and justice is the ethos in Amsterdam. Also, Rattle's relentless fussiness doesn't fit the Concertgebouw spirit.
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: snyprrr on May 23, 2011, 05:29:00 PM
return it in due time

LOL! :-*
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: kishnevi on May 23, 2011, 06:42:56 PM
I don't know those recordings ccar. The other Brahms by him I like is the first symphony with the Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra.

I have that one, somewhere or other.   I bought it secondhand, and the CD turned out to have a scratch that made the second movement unplayable, which is why the CD got put away.    It was coupled with El Amor Brujo that seemed at the time utterly forgettable, which is the other reason the CD got put away.   I ought to hunt it out and burn a playable copy, I suppose. 

[goes off to add one more task to the to-do list]
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: jlaurson on May 23, 2011, 09:57:22 PM
1.The Concertgebouw? Where do you get that quote?
2.The Concertgebouw doesn't even work with Rattle, after one try back in the Eighties.
3.And merciless and hardened is everything the Concertgebouw does not stand for.
4.Truth, beauty and justice is the ethos in Amsterdam. Also, Rattle's relentless fussiness doesn't fit the Concertgebouw spirit.

...That's what happens if you don't read the associated link.

1.) From said players
2.) That's not at all the point
3.) I know
4.) What B.S.
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Herman on May 23, 2011, 11:09:59 PM
...That's what happens if you don't read the associated link.

1.) From said players
2.) That's not at all the point
3.) I know
4.) What B.S.


In journalism, which is what you do, this is called an unattributed quote. You're supposed to avoid those. There are at least 125 musicians who can say they are 'in' the Concertgebouw orchestra, if 'several' of these talk to you, and you want to use that for publication you're supposed to ask 'Can I quote you on that?' meaning, with their names. Usually these people will say you can use it as 'background', anonymously, at which point it's best to forget about it.

The other thing you do (as a reporter and or critic) is ask yourself the question: 'How is this relevant? Or is it, perhaps, that I like this recording and / or Rattle, and just want to bolster this by an unattributed quote from an anonymous authority figure?' In that case: Don't. Or do it this way:

"I don't listen much to Brahms symphonies, but I really like Simon Rattle's new recording with Berlin Philharmonic. And I was pleasantly surprised, when I was in Amsterdam recently, to meet several Concertgebouw musicians who did so too."

This way, it's all yours, and you've still divulged, without giving it undue prominence. An unattributed quote coming from a large organisation has a habit of speaking for that entire organisation. It's not about player X with this or that history as a musician; it's 'the Concertgebouw', and in that case it becomes really weird that you seem to want the Concertgebouw to say 'we would like to play Brahms the way the BPO and Rattle do' while the Concertgebouw has rejected Rattle as a guest conductor, way back in the Eighties (after one gig with Mahler 10, Cooke), and they haven't changed their mind about it. Rattle has since worked with the Rotterdam Philharmonic, when in the Netherlands. If you had spoken to more Concertgebouw musicians you would have met a lot who don't have a copy of that recording (not all musicians listen to music at home extensively), and some who reject Rattle's way with Beethoven and Brahms. Would you have 'quoted' those, too?

And if you add qualifications as 'hardened' and 'merciless' it becomes even weirder, because that is not at all what the Concertgebouw does.

And lastly 'truth, beauty and justice' (with a big emphasis on the latter) has for generations been the motto of Concertgebouw musicians and artistic leadership. It's the route via which decisions have been made about whom they work with. You call that bullshit; they don't.

I know several performing arts internet groups where posts are thrown out immediately if they are about unattributed backstage gossip. This is mainly to avoid stagedoor groupies venting badly distorted stuff. As a journalist one should be aware of this anyway. The above sample is the way to use the information you got, without giving it undue relevance.
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Herman on May 23, 2011, 11:53:59 PM
And as for 'modern' recordings of the Brahms 1 - 4:

After the valedictory eighties recordings by Giuilini (Vienna) and Bernstein (Vienna):
Charles Mackerras / Scottisch National
Haitink / Boston
Haitink / London Symphony
Harnoncourt / Berlin
Eschenbach / Houston
Van Zweeden / Netherlands Phil
Marek Janowski / Liverpool and the aforementioned Rattle / Berlin
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Bruckner is God on May 24, 2011, 12:03:34 AM
We CAN have the best of both worlds: greatness in performance mated to greatness in recorded sound (modern).

To me that's Jansons/Oslo (live). 



(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51qKTDlnE7L._SS500_.jpg)



I love how rich and burly the sound is here, with wide dynamics and top-to-bottom symmetry. I'm guessing the acoustics of the Oslo Concert Hall contribute to the overall results as even what Jansons/Oslo there is on EMI (that I've heard) is fantastically recorded.

I heard that one on spotify. I really liked it, especially the last movement.
I am also going to check out the Rattle/Berlin and the Janowski recording.
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: eyeresist on May 24, 2011, 01:47:55 AM
Using quotes attributed to unnamed orchestra members is standard in classical music reporting, as you should have noticed if you read any of the music press. The musicians often prefer to be anonymous, to avoid possible damage to their standing. The main qualification to remember is that it is usually a very small minority of the orchestra expressing their opinion (most symphony orchestras are quite large, after all).
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Xenophanes on May 24, 2011, 01:55:15 AM
I think that's too extended a time period.    You're going back almost sixty years now;  literally more than a lifetime for most of the people now alive on this planet (including myself, although not by much). 

I'd define modern a little more flexibly (ie, without referring to a fixed date),   but with a shorter time period: a modern recording is one produced by artists still active, or recently active. or if you want to stretch it a little further, artists still alive or very recently deceased.    But the time period still reaches back pretty far: for instance, Haitink's 60s recordings would qualify there.  And depending on how you define "recently deceased' or "recently active", Solti as well.

That said, I don't remember any recording of the Brahms 4 that stands out for me .  I have Solti, Rattle, Muti, Eschenbach. and Haitink, and will be shortly ordering Gardiner's (I have the first three in his series already). 
None of them seem worse than any of the others, either.   

In  a pinch, if forced, I might pick Eschenbach, but that's partly for the simple reason that he's the one I've listened to most recently.

Of course, you are using a different criterion, artists currently or recently active.  You may have your reasons for choosing that.

I go back to the beginning of the stereo era because I think the main reason for looking for modern recordings is likely to be sound quality, and even some of the older stereo recordings are of very high quality.  As well, the longer period provides a wide variety of recordings.

Some terrific performances were recorded earlier, but on the whole, for symphonic material, I usually find it hard to enjoy the older recordings because the sound is often pretty awful. I like a number of old recordings of solo singers, and single instruments such as violin, cello, or piano, and even some small ensembles.
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Herman on May 24, 2011, 02:12:44 AM
Using quotes attributed to unnamed orchestra members is standard in classical music reporting, as you should have noticed if you read any of the music press. The musicians often prefer to be anonymous, to avoid possible damage to their standing. The main qualification to remember is that it is usually a very small minority of the orchestra expressing their opinion (most symphony orchestras are quite large, after all).

if you mean to say that there are no standards in music journalism and that is why we have things like Joyce Hatto, absolutely. But it can't harm to try and do it right.

As I indicated, the quote that was 'reported' is in many ways at odds with both what the orchestra as an organisation does (no Rattle) and the way it wants to sound: not hard and merciless.

So in that case one has to wonder what's the use of a 'quote' like this. Does it mean there is a minority in the Concertgebouw that wants something totally different? That would be a journalistic issue, though a rather tough one to report on. I think it's just a case of someone who wanted us to know that a couple members of one of the best orchestras in the world liked the Rattle cd as much as he did. That is not journalism in my book.
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Herman on May 24, 2011, 02:19:37 AM
I go back to the beginning of the stereo era because I think the main reason for looking for modern recordings is likely to be sound quality, and even some of the older stereo recordings are of very high quality.  As well, the longer period provides a wide variety of recordings.



another reason could be that interpretational history has moved on.

I believe today's Brahms is not the relentlessly dour motive spinner of previous generations.

a couple of years ago I heard a marvelous Brahms 4 with Gatti conducting the Concertgebouw, and the colours were just amazingly beautiful.

I have the feeling conductors of the 1945 - 1980 era (I'm just picking random dates) were not so much into the more colourful en melodic aspects of Brahms. But I may be wrong.
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: jlaurson on May 24, 2011, 08:36:18 AM

In journalism, which is what you do, this is called an unattributed quote. You're supposed to avoid those.

It was an anecdote, not an 'unattributed quote', and as such perfectly clear.

What you perceive to be 'at odds' is precisely the reason for those comments; because the RCO does not (and cannot*) sound the way the Berlin Phil. does under Rattle, they [some, unnamed, players, that is] wouldn't mind sounding like that every so often. In Brahms, for example.

That you somehow know how the entire institution wishes to sound amazes me as do not even cite unnamed sources to non-verify that.

I'm not trying to bestow legitimacy unto Rattle's recording, I'm relating the story why I bothered to listen to it in the first place.  Argghhh. How tedious.

* If you know the Concertgebouw (the building), you will know why.
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Scarpia on May 24, 2011, 08:56:55 AM
I have the feeling conductors of the 1945 - 1980 era (I'm just picking random dates) were not so much into the more colourful en melodic aspects of Brahms. But I may be wrong.

Some were, Barbirolli, for instance.
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Mandryka on May 24, 2011, 12:31:38 PM
How often is the first movement really done as an allegro?
 
EDIT: Actually, all his first movements are allegros, but you wouldn't know it by listening.

It's not just the first movement that Rattle takes time over -- the Passacaglia comes in at  nearly ten and a half minutes. That must be the longest on record.

It's well done though -- like listening to some sort of enormous plush rich majestic variations machine.

Another very wonderful bit of Rattle comes towards the end of the second movement, where he takes things steady slow majestic again, to great effect.

One thing he does more than any other record of it I can remember is call to mind Wagner: the Siegfried Idyll, the music Wagner wrote between the scene where Siegfried kills Fafner the scene where he stumbles  across the sleeping Bruenhilde.

There are enough special things in this to make it one to keep, if (for me) not one to love.
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Scarpia on May 24, 2011, 01:20:16 PM

It's not just the first movement that Rattle takes time over -- the Passacaglia comes in at  nearly ten and a half minutes. That must be the longest on record.


It's well done though -- like listening to some sort of enormous plush rich majestic variations machine.

Another very wonderful bit of Rattle comes towards the end of the second movement, where he takes things steady slow majestic again, to great effect.

One thing he does more than any other record of it I can remember is call to mind Wagner: the Siegfried Idyll, the music Wagner wrote between the scene where Siegfried kills Fafner the scene where he stumbles  across the sleeping Bruenhilde.

There are enough special things in this to make it one to keep, if (for me) not one to love.

Ten and a half minutes for the passacaglia is a bit on the slow side, but not unusual.  About the same time as Solti, Masur or Karajan, among many others I am sure.  I must say, your description gives the impression that this is the lamest recording of Brahms' forth ever made.   :(
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Herman on May 24, 2011, 05:51:09 PM
Ten and a half minutes for the passacaglia is a bit on the slow side, but not unusual.  About the same time as Solti, Masur or Karajan, among many others I am sure.  I must say, your description gives the impression that this is the lamest recording of Brahms' forth ever made.   :(

Rattle has this horrible habit of underlining every single thing.
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Mandryka on May 24, 2011, 09:06:26 PM
Ten and a half minutes for the passacaglia is a bit on the slow side, but not unusual.  About the same time as Solti, Masur or Karajan, among many others I am sure.  I must say, your description gives the impression that this is the lamest recording of Brahms' forth ever made.   :(

Rattle has this horrible habit of underlining every single thing.

I've heard lamer, for sure.

I don't lnow Solti's, Masur's and Karajan's. I didn't do a thorough search but it was slower than the ones on my hard drive (Furtwangler, Mengelberg, Gardiner, Kempe, Weingartner, Mravinski, Da Sabata, Max Fiedler, Wand, Toscanini, Stokowski )

He does underline; it doesn't always flow. But as I say, it's not uninteresting. I don't think that's necessarily to damn it with  feint praise. :)

Listing my HD like that has made me realise that I really don't know much about the period Herman mentioned -- 1945 - 1980s.
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Mandryka on May 24, 2011, 09:20:40 PM
I agree with Mandryka, the Furtwängler (and Mengelberg, De Sabata) version are the best chioces, if you don't insist particularly on 'modern'. Carlos Kleiber is also excellent he has at least 7 Brahms#4 recordings with various orchestras, of which the famous one on DG is far from being the best.



which is the best Kleiber then? Thanks for mentioning Da Sabata. Is there a good transfer?
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Drasko on May 24, 2011, 11:45:24 PM
It's not just the first movement that Rattle takes time over -- the Passacaglia comes in at  nearly ten and a half minutes. That must be the longest on record.

Not even close. Giulini in Vienna takes almost 12, and I imagine all the usual slowcoaches: Sanderling, late Bernstein, Celibidache take longer than Rattle.

Thanks for mentioning Da Sabata. Is there a good transfer?

The one in Andante box is very good. And there is currently used copy at amazon.uk for 11 pounds, which I think is a bargain.
http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/offer-listing/B00009PJQP/ref=sr_1_7_olp?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1306312736&sr=1-7&condition=used   
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: kishnevi on May 25, 2011, 05:42:05 AM
Not even close. Giulini in Vienna takes almost 12, and I imagine all the usual slowcoaches: Sanderling, late Bernstein, Celibidache take longer than Rattle.

The one in Andante box is very good. And there is currently used copy at amazon.uk for 11 pounds, which I think is a bargain.
http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/offer-listing/B00009PJQP/ref=sr_1_7_olp?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1306312736&sr=1-7&condition=used

Bernstein on DVD (VPO, on Unitel/DG, filmed 10/81):  the timings for all four movements are:
13'36, 13'12, 6'19, 14'03
As contrast the two other versions I have closest to hand:
Eschenbach/Houston
13'30.12'57,6'29,10'22
Haitink, Concertgebouw (1972)
12'21,11'40,6'12, 10'07
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Sergeant Rock on May 25, 2011, 06:06:34 AM
....the Passacaglia comes in at  nearly ten and a half minutes. That must be the longest on record.

Besides the slowpokes already mentioned:

Bernstein/Vienna          11:35
Celibidache/Munich       11:15
Eschenbach/S-H-F         10:58
Sanderling/Dresden      10:47
Szell/Cleveland             10:36


Sarge
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Sergeant Rock on May 25, 2011, 06:47:23 AM
Bernstein on DVD (VPO, on Unitel/DG, filmed 10/81):  the timings for all four movements are:
13'36, 13'12, 6'19, 14'03

:o :o :o

Does that 14:03 include applause?

Sarge
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: kishnevi on May 25, 2011, 06:58:33 AM

:o :o :o

Does that 14:03 include applause?

Sarge

Now, that you mention, it probably does.  Forgot about that little point :o
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Scarpia on May 25, 2011, 08:01:10 AM

:o :o :o

Does that 14:03 include applause?

Sarge

Maybe not.  I remember his recording of Brahms 3 first movement.  I seem to recall that he claimed in the pre-performance lecture to have discovered that "allegro" applied to the accompanying voices, and not to the melody, and that everyone but him was playing the movement much, much too fast.  Turns out, they weren't.   :P

There are some things that the Bernstein process works on, but in my opinion, Brahms isn't in that catagory.

Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: eyeresist on May 25, 2011, 05:53:17 PM
Besides the slowpokes already mentioned:

Bernstein/Vienna          11:35
Celibidache/Munich       11:15
Eschenbach/S-H-F         10:58
Sanderling/Dresden      10:47
Szell/Cleveland             10:36

Bohm/Vienna                10:23

Sounds like Rattle is actually one of the faster ones.
 
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Mirror Image on May 25, 2011, 07:13:38 PM
Rattle has this horrible habit of underlining every single thing.

But this doesn't make the journey any less rewarding. Rattle's Brahms is great in my opinion. It's one of my preferred cycles. Aside from Rattle, I always like Dohnanyi, Solti, and Harnoncourt.
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Marc on May 26, 2011, 10:27:43 AM
I have the feeling conductors of the 1945 - 1980 era (I'm just picking random dates) were not so much into the more colourful en melodic aspects of Brahms. But I may be wrong.

Eduard van Beinum?
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: eyeresist on May 26, 2011, 04:43:41 PM
What's the repeat situation in the fourth movement?

Haven't seen the score, but just from listening I'd say there are no repeats. The whole thing just moves inexorably forward (presaging Sibelius 7?). If there were repeats, it would be not a passacaglia but a passacaglia rondo.
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Herman on May 26, 2011, 10:55:38 PM
Bohm/Vienna                10:23

Sounds like Rattle is actually one of the faster ones.

Haitink / Boston     10:23 too
Kubelik / BRSO      10:04
Bélohlávek / Czech PO    10:07
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: eyeresist on May 26, 2011, 11:19:08 PM

http://www.amazon.com/gp/search/ref=sr_adv_m_digital/?search-alias=digital-music&unfiltered=1&field-keywords=brahms&field-author=&field-title=symphony+4+iv+Allegro+energico&field-label=&field-browse=&sort=-runtime&Adv-Srch-MP3-Submit.x=21&Adv-Srch-MP3-Submit.y=25
 
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Mandryka 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.



Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Drasko 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.
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Mandryka 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
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Mandryka 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.
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Scarpia 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.

Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: jlaurson 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.
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Scarpia 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?

Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: DavidW 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! :)
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Herman 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.
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian 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...

Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Mandryka 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.
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Scarpia 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.
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Herman 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.
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: wilhelm 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



Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: jlaurson 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.”
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Sergeant Rock 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
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Scarpia 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.   :)
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Brian 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.
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Sergeant Rock 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
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: eyeresist on May 29, 2011, 06:25:33 PM
It's odd that Norrington's earlier cycle has disappeared, because you know it would definitely sell a certain amount. I found the Stuttgart set surprisingly conventional in approach. For myself, I think we need quicker tempos and lighter textures in Brahms. I haven't yet heard the Weingartner....
 
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on May 29, 2011, 06:27:03 PM
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.

That's an interesting sentiment for Mackerras (and other HIPsters) to pick up on but it won't fly for a Brahms symphony cycle as a whole - the second and third symphonies were premiered by the Vienna Philharmonic! :)
 



Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Scarpia on May 29, 2011, 09:19:53 PM
That's an interesting sentiment for Mackerras (and other HIPsters) to pick up on but it won't fly for a Brahms symphony cycle as a whole - the second and third symphonies were premiered by the Vienna Philharmonic! :)
 

I fail to see any contradiction between the fact that the works were premiered by large ensemble and the notion that Brahms preferred the sound of a smaller ensemble.
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: eyeresist on May 29, 2011, 09:35:09 PM
I imagine the Vienna Phil in Brahms's time was smaller than it is now.
 
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Herman on May 29, 2011, 10:29:56 PM
you look at the number of winds specified in the original score and take it from there.
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Mandryka on May 30, 2011, 04:24:36 AM
Eduard van Beinum?

Thanks for mentioning that. I think it's a wonderful performance.

I think I have only heard this Brahms symphony and some Haydn from van Beinum, but in all cases I really click with his style. He's so intense: his Haydn Clock Symphony has to be heard to be believed! There are times when he punctuates the music with passages which border on frenzy and I really like that, yet it's always fully under control-- in Haydn and in Brahms. And the phrasing is so light and lithe, without over intrusive rubato, but not at all rigid. And the orchestra sounds glorious, as you suggested by your post.

Cotroled; powerful; slightly threateningly intense, svelte, modest: how can anyone resist that combination?

I also have a BWV 1052 with Lipatti -- I need to play that again as I can't remember anything about it!

 Any other recommendations from this conductor will be appreciated. I would love to hear his Eroica (it used to be on DVD as far as I can see) -- if someone could upload the sound I would be very happy  :)
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Daverz on May 30, 2011, 04:53:13 AM
I love Guilini in this Chicago perfomance
(http://images.amazon.com/images/P/B0002VEQFM.01.L.jpg)

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


I have this in EMI's Giulini in Chicago box, and it is an excellent performance, marred by poor sound for its vintage.  The Fanfare review describes it as sounding like it was transferred from a worn LP, which is an apt description.  I've never gotten a good answer as to whether this GROC issue is an improvement.

If "modern" means a digital recording, then a dark horse to try is the Skrowaczewski with the Hallé (this is not Barbirolli's scrappy Hallé; they were a much more polished sounding band by the time these Brahms recordings were made.)  The very fine engineering is by Trygg Tryggvason.  The performance itself is big romantic Brahms.
(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51rr3O-qAGL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)

It might be a bit hard to source.  It was also on the IMP label.  The cheapest listing I see is

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00000DWEN/ (http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00000DWEN/)
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: MishaK on June 07, 2011, 09:52:34 AM
A little late to this discussion...

By modern, I take that to mean digital stereo. Nothing else really qualifies the description otherwise given how long we've already been in the digital era.

Of course, there is no way around Kleiber's epic 4th, which has deservedly been praised to the heavens. Simply none equals the sweep and inevitability of the final movement, combined with the attention to detail in phrasing. A must have, even if it's not your favored interpretation or sound. You just need to hear this as a reference. Even if you end up preferring others eventually, you'll return to hear what is possible.



Either one of Haintink's recent Brahms 4's (with Boston or London) should equally be considered, for Haitink's usual unsurpassed meticulousness which never comes at the expense of warmth and forward motion, at least in Brahms.





A personal favorite of mine is Barenboim/CSO. His timings and overall tempos are close to Kleiber's, but with a bit more give and take in between. He also finds so much more color than any of the others. I've said it before here and I'll say it again: the second movement must be heard to be believed. I've never heard it realized with such an amazing blend of sound and such a beautifully spun long line as it is done here. Pure magic. Last movement is not quite as riveting as Kleiber's but impactful still.



Another recording of interest is Dohnanyi/Cleveland. As one would expect from this combo, this is a more analytical Brahms, but still beautifully played and well structured. You will find interesting new things you didn't know were there from listening to this.

Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Scarpia on June 07, 2011, 11:51:51 AM
I have that Barenboim recording.  I have to find the right time to listen to it.
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Brian on December 28, 2020, 12:58:53 PM
I've been doing some comparison listening recently... (and am reviving this thread as the most appropriate place for comparisons, despite the "modern" adjective in the title)

Fischer/Budapest Festival. What a disappointment. The main problem is in the first two movements, where the violins have a softness and lack of focus which is starkly different from the sound of the rest of the orchestra. At times they seem to be in a different acoustic - as if half the violinists are seated behind the winds and brass in the far back left of the stage. Their soft, caressing phrasing just isn't tragic, and the flowing violin melody of the slow movement, particularly, is deliberately stutter-stepped in an effort to de-romanticize it and reduce momentum. The final two movements are much better, but damage is done.

Harnoncourt/Berlin. To my surprise, Harnoncourt noodles around a bit with melodies too, introducing a bizarre rhythmic halt in the tune that's introduced by cellos/horns in the first movement around 1:30-1:45 (and then 8:40). I guess to make it waltzy? But he doesn't divide the Berlin Philharmonic against itself. Like the Budapest recording, the woodwinds are quite prominent (love the horns popping in at 9:25), but unlike the Budapest recording, this transparency doesn't diminish the momentum of the outer movements. I wish the first movement's final chord didn't taper off, but man, the timpani sound perfectly doom-ish. The rest of the symphony goes well, and the finale really builds nicely. Much better, but not quite A-list.

Kertesz/Vienna. At last, a big rich full orchestral sound and no mannerisms! The first movement is absolutely stunning, as hair-raisingly apocalyptic as Kleiber (love the abrupt cut-off of the last chord, rather than letting it fizzle like Harnoncourt). The slow movement glows, the finale glowers. Maybe, maybe, there isn't quite the transparency of the others, but there is passion and force and emotion and all the things I really want to hear. I've got a few others I want to re-audition - an American circuit of Janowski/Pittsburgh, Levine/Chicago, and Dohnanyi/Cleveland - but will leave things contentedly here for today.
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Brian on December 28, 2020, 03:56:23 PM
Decided to play another while prepping bibimbap, a delicious dinner which requires spending a lot of time slicing vegetables.

Mackerras/Scottish Chamber. The French horn lover's Brahms 4, with super prominent and good horns all the way through, maybe a little too much so in some places (as when paired with the massed cellos in the first movement). Despite being much smaller than the Budapest forces (and, in a couple places, less rhythmically secure), the Scottish players have a more cultivated Brahmsian sound with loving phrasing and, somehow, fullness. Mackerras' faster tempos create some urgency, but never haste, and everything goes the way it should, especially the smashing hornfest of the scherzo. Slides solidly into second place of the four.

Edit: Shouldn't have posted that during the flute solo in the finale! Must add there is one decided eccentricity on Mackerras' part - in the last two "variations" of the finale, he creates a Dramatic Ending by slowing down (penultimate) and then super speeding up (final). It's goofy, but it's not bad, and I can live with it.
Title: Re: Best modern Brahms symphony 4?
Post by: Brian on December 29, 2020, 01:36:16 PM
Levine/Chicago. One of the most urgent recordings around, a couple minutes slower than Dohnanyi or Harnoncourt, but this only becomes noticeable towards the end of the first movement, where maybe the tempo's inflexibility in the preceding music reduces the impact of the final pages a little bit. It's an overall powerful performance from start to end with deep bass and a wide sonic stage, but the appeal is limited by the recorded sound, from RCA in 1976. The winds and brass are fine, but the massed strings have a coarseness, a rough opacity, which sounds like a recording from, say, 1959. Perhaps both overly bass-heavy and overly bright up top at the same time, the sound really prevents the violins from singing as much as they could. I bet this would have been tremendously good to hear live in person in 1976, when you didn't have to worry about either the recorded sound or the knowledge that the conductor is a deranged sex criminal.

(Btw, with regard to the sound - I listened to the CD in the super cheap Sony reissue "white" box.)