Of Brahms' first symphony (1876), with its (too?) striking similarity to Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" theme in the fourth movement, Johannes defended against his critics: "Any horse's arse knows that!" In a more subtle way, Friedrich Gernsheim's first symphony (1875) echoes the purely orchestral textures and figurations of Beethoven, but without cashing in on a tune that everybody could already whistle. I love Brahms too- don't make faces now. Is it a wonder then, that these two men who were friends premiered their 1st symphonies 1 year apart, both of which grappled with the legacy of writing a symphony after Beethoven? Well, Gernsheim's orchestral writing is just as polyphonically well-crafted and gratifying to repeated listening as Brahms, and I can't understand his neglect. His music is completely accessible, structurally sound, and musically interesting and not to mention the fact it sounds like Brahms wrote 4 more symphonies with little hints of Beethoven: a perfect recipe!!!
The four symphonies fully deserve equal time with Brahms, and I hope to hear him occassionally in the concert hall in place of all those other musical chestnuts. (Incidentally, I was reading that Claudio Arrau used to play some piano pieces of Gernsheim's in his early touring days.) No major issues with this recording. Bottom line: if you like Brahms, Gernsheim deserves a place in your collection.