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Symphonies 1 & 3 [Import]

J. Brahms Audio CD

Price: CDN$ 43.33
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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An elegant and very satisfying Third, with the First not far behind Nov. 6 2007
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
The Munich Phil. has never been a first-rate ensemble, although with conductors like Celibidache and James Levine, they haven't wanted for talent on the podium. DG has been releasing new recordings form them under their new diector, Christian Thielemann, and as it happens, the Brahms First is one of those. He gets more intense and accomplished playing from his orchestra than Kempe does on this archival performance. The sound is average stereo but with recessive timpani, a problem in the opening bars of the first movement where the last thing Brahms wanted was a remote tap-tap-tap.

Setting all that aside, Kempe gives a gentle, lyrical, flowing account. Although he was considered a traditionalist, this isn't the Brahms First of Furtwangler, Knappertsbusch, or Klemperer. It never thunders or yearns to be epic. What saves the performance form blandness is Kempe's expertness at balance and phrasing. He never lets the meloic line sag or loses the thread of Brahms' logic (faults that I find with Ormandy, Barenboim, Alsop, and Chailly). In the end I'm not sure that Brahms should be tamed and muzzled, but the result is certainly civilized.

by general agreement the Sym. #3 is the trickiest to handle, one reason being that the composer keeps to a moderate tempo in all four movements (there's no real Adagio, no spirited Scherzo or racing finale). Kempe doesn't go for heroic contrasts as a solution, the way that Karajan triumphantly does, nor does he speed up the movements in the Toscanini-Szell mode. Instead, he keeps to the same lyrical approach as in the First, and since the Third isn't nearly as heroic, Kempe's style works better here. If you like the tender style of late Bruno Walter, here's its first cousin.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Portentous Brahms! April 2 2006
By Hiram Gomez Pardo - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
The prominent presence of Rudolf Kempe has always been synonymous of versatility, elegance and sumptuous expression. Indeed, he elevated the rank performance of the Munich Philharmonic, a second order Orchestra if I may.

Kempe' s bequeathed legacy of this Orchestra could be maintained by Aldo Ceccato in the middle Eighties when that prestigious Orchestra played an unforgettable recital in Caracas in 1984.

Sonority and expansive verbosity make of the first of Brahms a fundamental item to acquire. The given approach around the Third is absolutely eloquent, without that accustomed heavy weight vision, so typical of certain conductors.

Acquire this hard to find set. It is rewarding.

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