- Conductor: Johannes Brahms
- Audio CD (Jan. 30 2007)
- SPARS Code: DDD
- Number of Discs: 1
- Format: Import
- Label: Ncl
- ASIN: B000L42J8Q
- In-Print Editions: Audio CD
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
Symphony No.3 Import
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The Third Symphony, one of Brahms's most poetic and evocative works, was hailed by the critic Eduard Hanslick as 'artistically the most perfect'equal to the best of Brahms's works'a feast for the music-lover and musician'. Arguably the composer's greatest
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The Third had a great success at its premiere in 1883, enough so that Brahms was taken aback, worrying that he would never again be able to equal it. He rushed right into the composition of his Fourth Symphony and on its premiere his worries were allayed.
There have, of course, been many fine recordings of the Third Symphony. And many of them are available at budget prices. So Naxos doesn't necessarily have the price advantage it so often does. However, this performance is one of the better ones around, abetted by wonderfully clear sound and an intelligent, graceful and heartfelt performance led by Marin Alsop. The London Philharmonia plays beautifully here; special mention must be made of the glorious playing of the winds, the horns in particular. One seemingly can hear everything, not always the case with Brahms's sometimes bass-thick orchestrations. One can even hear the contrabassoon in its important contribution to the final movement; it is so often barely audible if at all in other recordings.
Alsop apparently has a special affinity for this symphony. Certainly her management of dynamics and tempo adjustments is superior to that in her recording of the First. In the pastoral Second which, by the way, is a superior recording, she doesn't have much opportunity to manage the alternation of dramatic and lyrical passages, but here in the Third she makes much of these contrasts. Although it is often passed over by music lovers in favor of the more consistently dramatic First and Fourth, the Third is my favorite Brahms symphony largely because of its subtle mixture of lyrical and dramatic impulses as well as its spectacularly thought-out construction which continually rewards deep study. Alsop does not let me down here. As I write this it has become one of my favorite recordings along with those of Bruno Walter, Bernard Haitink and Claudio Abbado.
The filler is the ubiquitous Haydn Variations, given an unexceptionable and sonically warm reading.
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Along comes the Brahms Third on the radio, with Marin Alsop and the London Philharmonic. By the end of the first movement, I had put down the book and was listening to an riveting performance of the old warhorse. What particularly struck me is how, under Alsop's direction of a fabulously responsive orchestra, the Third revealed rumbling undertones of the primitive lives Jensen had been describing for me in meticulous detail. There was a bottom layer in Alsop's interpretation of what Carl Jung might have called the collective unconscious at work, something I had been quite unprepared for in Brahms.
How this native of Manhattan could plumb the depths of Brahms (and European myth) is a mystery, but plumb it she did. I hate to make comparisons, but Alsop's Brahms Third revealed layers of Scandinavian (or perhaps Teutonic?) myth that the great Richard Wagner labored to produce in his Tristan and Dutchman, among others. The difference? The Brahms came forth naturally to reveal its secrets, while Wagner now seems to me to have been trying too hard, so to speak--perhaps more Apollonian than Dionysian.
A stunning revelation for this listener.
When the symphony was over, the radio announcer SIGHED into the microphone and said "That was Marin Alsop conducting the London Philharmonic."
Can you get a better review than that?