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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deeply satisfying with possibly the best 3rd I know, 12 Feb 2010
By 
Colin Fortune (Birmingham, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Symphonies 2 & 3 (Audio CD)
Both symphonies on this disc were recorded almost 50 years ago, which explains the lack of exposition repeats and the first and second violins all together on the left. These things were pretty standard at that time except for two other "old school" conductors: Klemperer and Boult. The good news is that the recordings were very good indeed for their time and they have come up wonderfully well in various remasterings, this one being the best so far.

As interpretations they are very special: humane atmosphere and beautifuly observed detail. The Second is a five star performance but I would give six or six-and-a-half to the Third.

The first movement is truly "allegro con brio". There is a lithe and supple energy about the whole thing that must surely be as Brahms meant it to bec - not statuesque or grand or spacious, for the marking of the movement contradicts this sort of thing. I would even say that an interpretation like this actually gains from not having the exposition repeat for the music soars ahead in a most exhillarating way without coming to the brick wall of the repeat sign (there are no "run in" bars to the exposition repeat and an essentially forward momentum is thrown back onto the two large chords that begin the exposition , halting the music until it surges again). The inner movements are richly tender with a specially gorgeous first horn at the heart of #3. Then the mysterious running motif that begins #4 flares into astonishing dramatic life until it runs its course and subsides into the gentle repeat of the first movement's first subject.

Walter exposes this music as a deeply satisfying symphonic structure and in recent comparisons with Klemperer Brahms - Symphonies 1 - 4 Berglund Brahms: The Symphonies (a chamber orchestra performance with repeats and antiphonal strings, very highly thought of), von Karajan Brahms - Symphonies 2 & 3 and the later Jochum/LPO recording (with exposition repeat taken) Brahms - Symphonies Nos. 1-3 & Overtures I found the Walter to be clearer headed and to have a special quality of humanity over all the others.

The Jochum DGG 1950's set, however, runs this Third close in interpretation (though the recording is not all that good) Brahms: Symphonies Nos.1 - 4 as does Daniel Harding's 2000 Virgin recording with the Deutscher Kammerphilharmonie Bremen Brahms - Symphonies Nos 3 & 4 which is altogether admirable in interpretation (except that he hangs back a bit in the - repeated - exposition of movement 1) and is well recorded with the richness combined with clarity that comes from a chamber orchestra performance.

But Walter is a master craftsman and the so-called Columbia Symphony Orchestra is a group of musicians hand-picked by Walter from the Los Angeles Philharmonic and other organizations around Hollywood. All of his Brahms symphonies from this stereo remake are absolutely top notch. The earlier mono recordings are available also Brahms - Symphonies Nos 1-4 but the Third does not quite have the grip that this performance shows and the sound is not as sophisticated. I honestly think that this performance of Brahms 3 is my absolute front runner, despite its age and the joy is increased by the fact that it is so well coupled to a lovely Second Symphony.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A sense of fulfillment, 30 Dec 2008
By 
Pedro Sena Lino "Bizancian" (Berlin, Germany) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Symphonies 2 & 3 (Audio CD)
Walter's Brahms is like his own language. He can convey easily his strong opinions on romanticism in the way he conducts Brahms. So you can find here a very well paced reading, singing, with each mouvement finding its tone. In this precise reading of the 2nd, for example, it easy to understand why it is called "Pastoral". His "Poco Allegreto" of the 3rd comes from the "Adagio" of Beethoven's 9th, and is so well marked by conterbasses that we can almost feel a resonance of baroque.
Klemperer said Walter was "very romantic", "mild and conciliating". This reading with Columbia shows it perfectly. His first reading with the New York Philarmonic (United Archives) shows another face. Here you can find a sense of fulfillment, in a deep and strong stereo sound.
But if you want thunderstorms in the 3rd, please listen to Furtwängler; or understand the strong connections of the 2nd and 4th, please listen to Klemperer or Haitink.
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3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The ultimate 2nd and 3rd Brahms..., 30 Mar 2008
By 
Jørgen Jepsen (Horsholm, Denmark) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Symphonies 2 & 3 (Audio CD)
This Brahms 2nd and 3rd are in the absolute ultimate class along with Klemperers, Kurt Sanderlings, Abbados and Wands etc.
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Symphonies 2 & 3
Symphonies 2 & 3 by Brahms^Walter^Columbia Symphony (Audio CD - 1995)
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