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Brahms: Symphonies 3 & 4 [Vladimir Jurowski, London Philharmonic Orchestra] [LPO: LPO-0075]

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Product details

  • Conductor: Vladimir Jurowski
  • Composer: Johannes Brahms
  • Audio CD (3 Feb. 2014)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Lpo
  • ASIN: B00GZALWLA
  • Other Editions: Audio CD
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 200,122 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Symphony No 3 in F major - London Philharmonic Orchestra
  2. Symphony No. 4 in E minor - London Philharmonic Orchestra

Product Description

Product Description

LPO Principal Conductor Vladimir Jurowski completes his survey of Brahms's four symphonies.

His previous disc, of Symphonies Nos. 1 & 2 (February 2010), received great critical acclaim including BBC Music Magazine's 'Disc of the Month' and the recommended version of Symphony No. 2 by BBC Radio 3's 'Building a Library'.

Symphonies Nos. 3 & 4 were recorded live in concert at Royal Festival Hall in 2010 and 2011, receiving press reviews including 'a performance of colossal proportions' (The Guardian, No. 4).

In the Third, sweeping string melodies and autumnal colours interwoven with his recurring musical motto of 'free but joyful' create one of the composer's most personal works. In the Fourth, Brahms looked back to his idols Bach and Beethoven for inspiration, creating a masterpiece whose extraordinary passacaglia finale based on a Bach cantata seems to sum up the composer's symphonic mastery.

Review

The London Philharmonic Orchestra's strings combine passion and poise, the woodwinds are exquisite, and Jurowski accepts the music as a lyrical outpouring. In short, unlike John Eliot Gardiner's wham-bam approach, the LPO s principal conductor marries the best of tradition with the best of modern practice. **** Financial Times, 24 January 2014 They are at once modern their transparency and detailed nuance yet old-fashioned in their relaxed tempi, long, overarching phrasing and use of string portamento ... These LPO performances are true bargains as well as fine performances. --The Observer, 26 January 2014

Moderated expressive freedom is very much what Jurowski gives us in these powerfully wrought performances. --Gramophone, Mar'14

Honest and intelligent performances that have thought through these two masterpieces. --IRR, Mar'14

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Format: Audio CD
As if to support the notion that Russian conductors don't get Brahms, Valery Gergiev maundered his way through Sym. 1 and 2, and now his younger countryman Vladimir Jurowski improves on the situation, but only just. In the postwar era it took decades before a post-Soviet conductor, Mikhail Pletnev, released a complete Beethoven symphony cycle suitable for an international audience (on DG), but I don't know of the same for Brahms, excepting concert readings under Mravinsky, which are certainly convincing despite dodgy sound; a Melodiya release of the four symphonies under Svetlanov didn't gain much traction in the West.

The influx of Russian conductors to the West has increased the visibility of their musical tradition. A survey of several thousand broadcast concerts from Europe and the Us showed that Prokofiev is being programmed as much as Mendelssohn, and the Rachmaninov First and Third Sym. are becoming almost as much a staple as the popular Second. but Jurowski knows that he's expected to conduct the Austro-German classics.

Here the Brahms Third and fourth get vigorous, often propulsive readings at a high level of assured accomplishment. Maybe this is the "new Brahms," but the whole enterprise feels one-dimensional. One thing Brahms is, musically and emotionally, comes down to layering and half-lights. They are missing here. I shouldn't lay the lack down to Russian-ness. Weingartner and Toscanini were impatient with the overlays in Brahms. In the first movement of the Third, Jurowski is so headlong that this could be updated Toscanini, except that to his credit, he doesn't adopt Toscanini's rigid metronomic phrasing.
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A superb recording that breathes new life into familiar classics. Highly reccommended!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x91eb3e04) out of 5 stars 2 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x91d887b0) out of 5 stars **** 1/2 Finally one of the Russians sounds original in Brahms, if highly unusual 17 Nov. 2014
By Andrew R. Barnard - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
With this final release in his Brahms cycle, Vladimir Jurowski naturally finds himself competing with Valery Gergiev, his elder Russian compatriot also at the head of a major London orchestra. I was disappointed with Gergiev's cycle, which was moderate and resigned with almost no new ideas. Did Jurowski eclipse the more experienced Gergiev, and more importantly, did he prove that the Russians have a legitimate approach to Brahms?

Thanks partly to the clearer sonics, we instantly hear that Jurowski's Brahms is much fresher than Gergiev's. The opening movement of the 3rd Symphony feels alive and warm, and Jurowski voices with compelling impact. It's a tad on the lean side, though; it sounds more modernist than romantic. But it's more moving than I was anticipating. It has a very precise, rhythmic feel, but nothing seems stodgy--Jurowksi is fully involved. Heading into the heart of the movement, Jurowski doesn't try to compete with the heft of the Berlin Phil. He is still fairly lean, but again, surprisingly moving. He's not simply going through the motions, even if he's not outright passionate and far from turbulent. This is comparatively smooth sailing over a land of incredible beauty, realized impeccably. The back and forth between the strings is immaculate. Proceeding into the closing minutes, Jurowski is excitable, but he doesn't try to build to a ringing climax in the way that Karajan and Rattle do. He's entirely stripped of any pretense of nobility. It sounds a bit aloof, but only by a little.

Starting the 2nd movement, things feel a tad breezy. Jurowski certainly isn't waiting around to let the meaning sink in. He insists on keeping the line flowing, albeit with warm, loving detail. He's anything but Germanic; is this Brahms posing as Tchaikovsky? The line can feel impatient at times, only Jurowski can turn around and apply generous rubato. It all feels very un-Brahms, if I may say so, completely devoid of any nobility. Coming to the 3rd movement, we're becoming accustomed to the feel, which is warm, crisp, and to the point. Jurowski isn't specializing in richness or depth; he's not going to be caught lingering. He feels tender and sensitive once again, with traces of melancholy, although his outlook is resoundingly positive.

Jurowski stirs up a nice bit of energy in the finale, only he runs the risk of becoming brisk. He doesn't dig in, and the sound is clear-eyed and almost unaffected. Again, there's a stress on accuracy, even if it's never cold. Details are remarkably clear, and there's several times more life than with Gergiev. He almost bounces at times, with a surprising lack of gravity. Heading into the gorgeous closing bars, the mood is as sharp and to the point as at the beginning, still beautiful in its own way while being completely removed from the usual sound world of Brahms.

We've gotten a good taste of Jurowski's style in Brahms by now, so as we'd expect, he starts out the 4th Symphony with a graceful lilt instead of grandeur. It is gentle and swaying, not dark and turgid. It's refreshing on the one hand, yet as the movement progresses, one does wish there could be more passion. This is sensitive conducting that finds whole layers of new detail. Again, it can't be overemphasized just how un-Germanic and rigorous this is.

The 2nd movement is at once dry eyed and opulent. The London Philharmonic plays masterfully, and if you don't mind that the pathos isn't dominating, this is touching in its own way. Those of us who want the core of our soul to be touched won't be finding it here, though. Jurowski is still lean, as full as the orchestra sounds. That seems ironic, but as persuasive as his force is, he is avoiding a colossal sound. We head into the Scherzo with a steady trot, once again without bombast. This is light, carefree Brahms. Should one complain about the missing richness or rejoice in the abundant energy? I tend towards the latter, actually, and if nothing else, it's great to hear new ideas. It's one of the most energized accounts on disc.

Jurowski is jagged coming into the finale, with strong emphasis and swirling sounds. He's not very fateful. He's far from slack, though, and he proceeds with plenty of his own excitement. He simply doesn't allow himself to subscribe to the age-old traditional Brahms sound. We're not used to Brahms this clear-eyed, forward, and modernist. The ending itself has an abrupt ritard followed by an equally abrupt accelerando. It's eccentric but extremely interesting.

To come back to our original question, did Jurowski prove himself in this repertoire? Certainly he is far more convincing than Gergiev, as odd as this disc is in some ways. Unlike Gergiev, one does feel that Jurowski has his own originality. I usually demand more overt passion and romantic splendor in Brahms, but the conducting here sparkles with inspiration. I find Karajan, Bernstein, Tennstedt, and Rattle more consistently gripping, but I'm quick to welcome anything with a fresh breath of air. Jurowski qualifies, so I've decided to compromise and give this CD 4 and-a-half stars. I'll be sure to return to it. And in the wider perspective, this disc only increases Jurowski's credibility for consideration at another major European post. If the Berlin Philharmonic isn't eyeing him, they should be.

[from theclassicalcommentator.blogspot.com]
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x91d889fc) out of 5 stars Jurowski takes Brahms on his own terms - mostly fast, bright, and forward 8 Mar. 2014
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
As if to support the notion that Russian conductors don't get Brahms, Valery Gergiev maundered his way through Sym. 1 and 2, and now his younger countryman Vladimir Jurowski improves on the situation, but only just. In the postwar era it took decades before a post-Soviet conductor, Mikhail Pletnev, released a complete Beethoven symphony cycle suitable for an international audience (on DG), but I don't know of the same for Brahms, excepting concert readings under Mravinsky, which are certainly convincing despite dodgy sound; a Melodiya release of the four symphonies under Svetlanov didn't gain much traction in the West.

The influx of Russian conductors to the West has increased the visibility of their musical tradition. A survey of several thousand broadcast concerts from Europe and the Us showed that Prokofiev is being programmed as much as Mendelssohn, and the Rachmaninov First and Third Sym. are becoming almost as much a staple as the popular Second. but Jurowski knows that he's expected to conduct the Austro-German classics.

Here the Brahms Third and fourth get vigorous, often propulsive readings at a high level of assured accomplishment. Maybe this is the "new Brahms," but the whole enterprise feels one-dimensional. One thing Brahms is, musically and emotionally, comes down to layering and half-lights. They are missing here. I shouldn't lay the lack down to Russian-ness. Weingartner and Toscanini were impatient with the overlays in Brahms. In the first movement of the Third, Jurowski is so headlong that this could be updated Toscanini, except that to his credit, he doesn't adopt Toscanini's rigid metronomic phrasing.

but then the second movement is turned into another Allegro, barely indicating a change of mood (the marking is Andante), which sets the score up for having three movements in a row without sufficient variety in the pacing. the London Phil. made a Brahms cycle under Marin alsop that got a good reception; it was conventional to a fault, so perhaps it's better that Jurowski has ideas. The Scherzo is the best movement so far, lifted on a buoyant, flexible rhythm that makes it feel vibrant. I like the fact tha the finale is taken as a real Allegro, but there are shades of mystery at the outset that get entirely overlooked.

Jurwoski joins Chailly in presenting Brahms as a composer who needs saving from himself by tarting up the speed and reducing the romantic longing, but I don't agree. there's a live Brahms third on ICA, a recent release that fills out the gaps of those two conductors. Ironically, it's conducted by a Russian, Evgeny Svetlanov. If a composer has depth, aren't we obliged to explore it?

The Fourth begins at a traditional pace with more flexible phrasing, adding to the appeal of the performance. The first movement is an iconic example of ebb and flow, which Jurowski captures well. He also senses that the symphony is cast on a heroic scale, something that Chailly misses. I was thoroughly convinced, even if I prefer the evident struggle that Bernstein finds in the Fourth. by that standard, he wrestles with the angel of death in the slow movement while Jurowski hums a lullaby to it. but he's on secure ground with the long, singing line he wants to sustain, and that's half the battle.

The Scherzo of the Fourth plays itself under any competent conductor. Jurowski's is one of the fastest I've encountered, but he balances the sound to bring out those disturbing interjections in the basses and timpani. You don't often hear this movement played for thrills, but here it works. The finale represents one of Brahms's greatest achievements as a classicist (he goes back to Bach's organ works for the passacaglia form writ large) enveloped in Romantic intensity. Jurowski captures the intensity and delivers a forward-moving reading in bold colors. But the lack of a deeper dimension is still felt.

In all, these are crowd--leasing performances - and critic-pleasing,too, to judge by the London notices - well worth hearing. I'd place them considerably above Alsop's and above Jurowski's previous Brahms first and Second. I don't feel however, that real justice is done to Brahms's emotional and musical depths.
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