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Symphony No. 1

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Amazon.com: 5 reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
One fantastic CD April 16 2009
By Osvaldo Colarusso - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This CD pleased me very much.First of all the Monteverdi choir is, today, one of the most impressive vocal ensembles . The Mendelssohn, in this CD , for a Capella choir , sounds magnificent. And the version of the superb Song of Destiny is one of the best I heard. The first three tracks are the sufficient reason to buy this record , but after we can hear one of the most beautiful versions available of the first Symphony of Brahms. The orchestra play so well, and the transparency, all the time ,make you hear things that simply don't appear in others versions.I am very happy to hear this CD, and I'm anxious to listen the others Symphonies. After the wonderful work with the Cantatas of Bach, the Monteverdi Choir and Gardiner, with this superb orchestra,shows once more the serious intentions of this new label.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Strange April 2 2012
By J. Buxton - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
It must be said that this is a committed performance, often inspired, and features excellent sound. But I have to question the insistence on using period string technique in Brahms...it just doesn't sound right. Using very little vibrato and little or no portamento is just plain weird for Brahms in my opinion. This becomes especially evident in the second movement, which begs for some feeling, and Gardiner just does not deliver. In sum, I didn't like it. If you must have a more period informed Brahms set, go for the Mackerras/Scottish Chamber set which contains many of the best qualities of this recording but also more flexibility in phrasing, and more romantic feeling.
My favorite Brahms Aug. 28 2013
By loose filter - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Gardiner's readings are not for everyone, but I just love his Brahms symphony cycle more than any I've ever heard, live or recorded. The outstanding ORR plays with extraordinary fire and polish as usual, and make this repertoire sound so fresh and vital.

What is specifically excellent about Gardiner's work here, for me, are two things: his ability to always clearly highlight Brahms' development of material without pedantically overbalancing such elements in the overall texture, and his extremely deft and organic management of transitions. Those two things make the music make real sense while maintaining a stellar sense of pacing and affect.

Definitely a must-own for any fan of Brahms' symphonies.
Never ceases to amaze March 30 2013
By Marco's Mom - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Gardiner and the Monteverdi Choir never ever cease to amaze by their high level of professionalism and excellence. Keep it up!
6 of 12 people found the following review helpful
A period Brahms First, for those who can take it, but the choral pairings are tremendous Dec 15 2008
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This is an exciting CD, even for a major non-fan of Gardiner's. It opens with a strikingly dramatic funeral march for chorus, winds, and timpani -- Begrabnigesang, Op. 13 -- that was the first effort of a brilliant 25-year-old to set chorus and orchestra together. I had never heard of it, much less listened to it, but Brahms has discovered the same stern, uplifting Protestant tone that would characterize the German Requiem. Gardiner's exemplary Monteverdi Choir is asked to sing in period style without vibrato, which is irritating, but it suits the work's quasi-archaic monody.

This is followed by a spectacularly vivid account of Mendelssohn's 'Mitten wir in Leben sind,' here expressed with theatrical excitement rather than chruchy reverence. It was written a capaella and gives the Monterverdi choristers a chance to display their perfect intonation and disciplined ensemble. Completing the generous choral portion of the CD is a more familiar Brahms piece, "Schicksalslied" (Song of Destiny) Op. 54, a mature work that rarely makes an impression on me. But here, even though indulging in every quirk of period style, Gardiner manages to inject more vitality than I would have expected -- the faux Baroque manner relieves the music of dated Victorian piety.

Which leaves the main work, the First Sym. The four symphonies have received barely any period-style readings on CD, although there have been some small-scale ones (notably from Charles Mackerras and Daniel Harding) that employ orchestras the size of those in the smaller capitals of Europe in Brahms's day. Here Gardiner loses me -- the blunt, thwacking timpani, skimpy, zingy string sound, and blaring brass set my teeth on edge. The pacing seems rushed and brusque. Gardiner's fans love his music-making for exactly these qualities, however. I can't fault the Revolutionaire et Romantique forces for their ability, so we are spared painfully out-of-tune strings.

Would Brahms recognize any of this as authentic? Plenty of conductors and musicians who played in Brahms's lifetime or who forge a link to the Romantic era went on to make early recordings, none of them remotely in the style esposued by Gardiner. Being full-blown Romantics, like the composer himself, they played in romantic style. Oh well, the choral works are so exciting that they are worth the price of admission on their own. Now the HIPsters can grumble.