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I have put up my write-up on the new BSO Brahms set; there is one sound sample for each of the four symphonies.
The set was released today, and downloads are now available for purchase.
And your assessment of #1 was pretty much spot-on. I have to admit that I almost always find the second movement kind of dull and boring, but not so in this performance, which was so warm and loving. The wonderfully burnished sound of the orchestra was a marvel.
However, moving on to #2, I was a bit disappointed. Unlike the 1st, the 2nd just seemed inert and uninspired. Here my standard-bearer is the old Walter/NYP and Nelsons was just too dull and earthbound. Will need a few more listens.
Now on to the 3rd and 4th!
For me, Walter/Columbia Symphony is top of the heap in #3, Kleiber in #4, Szell in #2, and Levine/Vienna in #1. But I'm curious about this BSO set.
and sound at its best.
Seems like the BSO survived the "deconstructionist" era (think Abbado in Berlin, Muti in Philadelphia), with their corporate sound intact. Speaking of which, the massed string sound was among the best I've heard without having to drop a needle. Wind playing was a joy, especially the bassoon supporting the lower strings.
I've noticed over the years that conductors seem to have a hard time pacing the first movt. IMHO Walter get it just right in his Columbia stereo remake. No awkward gear-changes with Nelsons, so far as I can tell, though Walter and Furt wring just a touch more tragedy out of the climax.
At first I thought the 2nd movt was going to be too indulgent, but the playing! The string climax over open fifths in the bass...who wouldn't want to hold onto that dark, burnished sound? The strings are particularly atmospheric in the misty ending of the symphony, too.
A keeper for me.
Phot credit: Cheryl Fleming for the Boston Symphony
Seriously, this is why I continue to write about music, post Stereophile.
BTW, let me take the opportunity to give hat tips to Grace Design, whose mic pres and ADCs are important parts of the recorded sound, and Bricasti, whose gear is also in the BSO recording shack, pictured above.
Should I win the Lottery, on my list is buying a nice pair of Vivid Audio loudspeakers for the BSO recording shack.
Brahms doesn't ask the conductor to pick up the pace at all, though so many do. Nelsons' slight broadening of tempo at that momement is growing on me.
May they do Ravel cycle.
At $30.99 directly from the BSO's site, it's much cheaper than the $38.39 that ProStudioMasters wants (and that's with a $20% off sale!). Can't wait to give it a listen!
The sound quality is quite nice..... But like most orchestras today, there is a lack of "boldness" to the playing that makes me want to go back to Bruno Walter or George Szell (for Brahms)......
in the sample of the fourth, the brass sound WAY out in front of the strings, which should dominate this passage. Anybody else notice this?
2nd mov't/3rd Symphony. It's broad, but definitely loving, as you say. Does Nelsons also whip up a good storm in the 1st movts of the 3rd and 4th? Furt always gets my hair standing on end.
And while the openings of the 3rd and 4th are energetic, "frenzy" is not the word that comes to mind.
My impression is that Nelsons is very willing to take or to extend pauses in order to convey his conception of the architecture of a movement, and that for that reason, while there is energy, the forward momentum always has within it the possibility of being held in check, so there is never any feeling of being "out of control."
Swafford's liner notes argue that when Brahms wrote his publisher that "I still think catastrophe is coming," Brahms was referring to (Swafford's words) "Austria's rising tide of reaction and anti-Semitism."
So, if Nelsons shares that view, then frenzy I would think would be a double-edged sword.
The feeling-tone I get from Nelsons' 3rd and 4th is of autumnal wistfulness tinged with resignation.
ATB + Thanks,
than the No. 1 or No. 2?
Maybe I just like it better but I originally thought it was my system warming up over the morning hours but went back to No. 1 and again, No.4 seems the better recording.
on Decca didn't really do it for me, though I get the conductor's objectives. The freshness and clarity was gratifying at first but got tiresome.
Funny--I agree about the Chailly. To me it felt over-thought-out.
Nelsons I believe has no previous Brahms symphony recordings except for No. 2 (and Alto Rhapsody) with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, so it is not as though there is an older complete set people will inevitably compare this one to.
The BSO is selling downloads not only of individual symphonies but even individual movement tracks. However, you might have to buy at least one full symphony to get the .pdf of the liner note booklet.
In this case, yes; you can download the entire set, download one symphony, or download one track. The only caveat is that it appears that in order to download the liner note booklet .pdf, you have to buy "an album," and whether that means one symphony or the whole set, is not clear.
But if one wanted to get one's pinky toe wet on one's favorite movement, that is a valid option.
The case where I can imagine that you must buy an entire classical album download is when the work performed is not in the public domain and therefore the label has to get a download license from the music's publisher. Such licenses are as far as I know almost always for the entire work, e.g., Shostakovich's 10th symphony--and indeed, the DG BSO Nelsons download of that is available from HDTracks only as a complete album (with the filler work of a hair-raising Passacaglia from "Lady MacBeth of the Mtsensk District").
Thanks to all, btw who visited my blog and who listened to the sound samples. IMHO the BSO went through many years of not realizing its potential, but--now that Ferrari is running on all cylinders!
(Exp: At the press availability where I met Nelsons, he commented that even though he did not drive, conducting the BSO made him feel like he'd been given the keys to a Ferrari.)
Giving the late Ayrton Senna the keys to my old Toyota!
it's available for streaming on QOBUZ. Lately QOBUZ has been promoting these new releases with only 30 second samples (mp-3) with the offer of Hi Rez downloads for sale.
This one, at least so far, deserves the Hi Rez download, at least so far and based on the first movement of No. 1 only.
then did an upgrade while in France.
I pay in Euros via PayPal and register my SONOS system using a European address so I can get the SONOS QOBUZ player.
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