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4 Symphonies / Variations
Johannes Brahms, Christa Ludwig, Karl Bohm
4 Symphonies / Variations
Genre: Classical
No Description Available No Track Information Available Media Type: CD Artist: BRAHMS,J. Title: SYM (4)/HAYDN VARS Street Release Date: 10/08/2002


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CD Details

All Artists: Johannes Brahms, Christa Ludwig, Karl Bohm
Title: 4 Symphonies / Variations
Members Wishing: 1
Total Copies: 0
Label: Deutsche Grammophon
Release Date: 10/8/2002
Album Type: Box set
Genre: Classical
Style: Symphonies
Number of Discs: 3
SwapaCD Credits: 3
UPC: 028947144328


Product Description
No Description Available
No Track Information Available
Media Type: CD
Artist: BRAHMS,J.
Street Release Date: 10/08/2002

CD Reviews

Fantastic! Very few, if any, weaknesses
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This is, overall, a fantastic set, especially considering the its budget price. The only reason I gave it 4 stars instead of 5 is that your taste will decide whether you like the set or not. Firstly, the 1st Symphony is fabulous, no reservations or quibbles. The 2nd is elative, though, for some, the tempos may be a bit slow, but I find that Bohm makes it interesing enough (or really, more interesting than any other conductor I have encountered) that you don't notice that slow tempos at all. The 3rd may not be to everyone's taste, especially if you think Klemperer's 3rd is the ideal. Really, though, it is never at any point less than satisfactory, and sometimes quite good. The 4th is dark and gloomy, if you like it that way. The Haydn Variations, Tragic Overture and the Alto Rhapsody (especially the Alto Rhapsody) are beyond praise. The sound, though not digital, is late analog, and is really fantastic, warmer than any digital recording I have encountered made before 1990. Really, if you want a good collection of the symphonyies, with some bonuses, you can't get better than this, especially at the price range. Highly Reccomended."
Classic Brahms symphonies; formidable musicianship
Dan Fee | Berkeley, CA USA | 07/31/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Over the years, I have variously been told I would outgrow Brahms, or at least see his music move to the margins of my active repertoire of current musical interests. Fortunately, this has not yet happened to be the case. Instead, I have become ever more fascinated by the music, in which Schoenberg could discern the seeds of his New Music, and for which the dreaded conservative critic of Vienna, Hanslick, was wont to do battle against the tilting windmills of modernity in that turn- of-the-century epoch, especially those dragons of Wagnerism! To understand how such different cliques could have made such disparate, yet passionate use of Brahms as a key exhibit in their culture wars, one only has to listen .... again and again and again. Notoriously self-critical, Johannes made considerable efforts to present and publish only his best efforts in all genres of music. He only wrote four symphonies, but what distances other symphonists have traversed in nine, or more; it seems Brahms could compress into just four. The point of all this is that Brahms is a complicated composer who manages to draw upon much that is old, even traditional; while at the same time he strikes open into new horizons, new vistas, and above all new musics. Mozart is said to have bragged in his letters that his music had something for everyone: popular appeal for the common folk of his day, as well as formal schemes with complications and depths that probably only the highly trained musical cognoscenti would hear. Perhaps something equivalent must be also argued for Brahms' music. Thus, a conductor who succeeds in Brahms is by definition capable of discerning the old and the new, while preserving in passionate reserve the distinctiveness of Brahms's musical speech. The reissue of this set of performances of the Brahms symphonies merits our attention, because Karl Bohm was renowned in his own lifetime for being a prince of Mozartians. Given the evidence in this recorded set, he clearly was also among the most noble, and most notable, of Brahms conductors. Another part of the golden, glowing quality in these performances can only have come from the vaults of that other treasury, the Vienna Philharmonic. Brass, woodwinds, strings .... no one has quite the velvety depths of sound, as well as the mountainous granites of height and power, like the Vienna band. Karl Bohm was alleged to be quite demanding, to get what he wanted out of an orchestra; yet these recordings provide irrefutable proof that both he and the orchestra could be united in musical warmth and intimacy with the challenging demands of Brahms four symphonies. Even a somewhat stiff, foursquare, formally reserved quality that sometimes arises momentarily in these performance, every so slightly apparent in moments of transition in the keys, as the musical narrative shifts and transforms within the musical structure, would itself be quite true to what we know of Brahms as a human being. You find yourself musing that surely Karl Bohm had some of those same, authentically gruff and rough-hewn qualities himself, not too glowing nor too proud or polished to be capable of reminding us in his musical manner that Brahms played piano in the waterfront establishments of Hamburg. Now those musical patrons were neither typically noble-born, nor replete with necessities much beyond those of working-class survival. These recordings are classics, and have merited praise since their first release. Mention must also be made of alto Christa Ludwig's Alto Rhapsody, along with the burnished Viennese sounds of the male chorus that accompanies her. Sorrow, regret, and transcendently spiritualized resignation go hand in hand in her performance of this odd work. Brahms said himself that he believe it to be one of the best things he had ever prayed. Hearing all, surely we agree. Get this set now. With the marketing kids running the show, it can just as easily disappear from the catalogue as it so quickly arrived. Highly, highly recommended."
One of the great bargains of DG's catalog
Alan Majeska | Bad Axe, MI, USA | 10/10/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Karl Bohm's recording of Brahms Four Symphonies with the Vienna Philharmonic (recorded 1975-76) is one of the great bargains of the DG catalog. These are recorded in beautiful analog stereo sound in the Musikvereinsalle, one of the world's great concert halls, and Bohm was in great shape when these were put on tape.
The Vienna Philharmonic could of course play these works in their sleep, having recorded and performed them numerous times under other great conductors since Brahms (1833-1897) was living. Karl Bohm (1894-1981) had ample experience conducting Brahms, having recorded Symphonies 1 and 2 with the Vienna Philharmonic in 1940, and again with Symphonies 1 and 2 with the Berlin Philharmonic for DG, about 1960. There is a famous Bohm/Dresden State Orchestra recording of Brahms Symphony 4 from the late 1930s, reissued in the US on Dutton (but may be deleted now), and a Vox LP (mono) of Brahms 3 by Bohm/Vienna from about 1952.

Bohm's tempos here are slower than some, especially the Allegros, but his sense of forward motion and phrasing do not make them seem overly long or tedious, as is the case with Bernstein's 1983 recordings, with the same orchestra (DG).
Symphony 1 is big and bold, and Bohm is not afraid to slow down for big moments, although he does not jerk tempos around for effect, as do some conductors. Symphony 2 seems more autumnal than some recordings, but is perfect in flow and pacing. Symphonies 3 and 4 sound beautiful, and are again on the moderate to slow side. These are all beautiful recordings, and I have the highest admiration for them.

DG waited a long time to release Karl Bohm's Brahms Symphonies, as they already had cycles by Karajan/Berlin (1978 and 1987-88, 2 different cycles), Bernstein/Vienna (1983) and Abbado/Berlin (early 1990s) in their catalog. But they have done a great job with this presentation, and the dismates: Haydn Variations, Tragic Overture, and Alto Rhapsody with Christa Ludwig, are all first rate and very beautiful.

One apt description for this release would be "think of Bruno Walter with a better orchestra." Since Bohm was Walter's assistant at the Munich opera in the early 1920s - the beginning of his career - this is an appropriate description."