Brahms: Symphony No. 1, Tragic Overture

Brahms: Symphony No. 1, Tragic Overture

by Marin Alsop
     
 

Thanks to her busy recording schedule with Naxos, most music lovers would probably identify conductor Marin Alsop as an American specialist. Her valuable multi-disc survey of Samuel Barber's works is now almost complete, and her discography also includes excellent recordings of Leonard Bernstein, Philip Glass, Michael Daughtery, and JohnSee more details below

Overview

Thanks to her busy recording schedule with Naxos, most music lovers would probably identify conductor Marin Alsop as an American specialist. Her valuable multi-disc survey of Samuel Barber's works is now almost complete, and her discography also includes excellent recordings of Leonard Bernstein, Philip Glass, Michael Daughtery, and John Adams. But Alsop resists being pigeonholed -- back in 2000, in an interview with Barnes & Noble.com, she asserted that she was "very anxious to be the first woman to record all the standard repertoire." Judging from this release, the first in a cycle of the Brahms symphonies, we'll all be the richer as she does so. Brahms's First is one of those repertory works that we tend to take for granted, a reliably satisfying symphonic meal. Alsop's approach is certainly no radical revision, but she animates the symphony with a refreshing spirit of discovery and a palpable sense of pleasure taken in the composer's creative invention. The overall sweep of the work is completely persuasive: Tempos, for example, invariably seem precisely right; her careful control of dynamics and transitions are masterful; and every melody seems molded with an astute sense of its place in the whole. The London Philharmonic plays beautifully for her, as they do also in the Tragic Overture and Academic Festival Overture. In sum, this is an auspicious beginning to what will likely be the first great Brahms cycle of the 21st century.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - James Leonard
Recorded on January 18 and 19, 2004, at Watford Colosseum with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, these performances of Brahms' "Symphony No. 1" and "Tragic" and "Academic Festival Overtures" are Marin Alsop's first Brahms recording. For that matter, these are also Alsop's first recordings of standard repertoire works. Heretofore, Alsop has conducted contemporary music including discs of Rouse, Glass, and Daugherty, plus the complete orchestral music of Samuel Barber. But, as an English critic might say, this disc represents her first foray into the music of the nineteenth century masters. So how is it? It's nice, light, airy, and lyrical. The tread of fate in the tympani in the opening Un poco sostenuto is nice. The deeply emotional Andante sostenuto is light. The exciting and exhilarating Un poco allegretto e grazioso is airy. The great-hearted theme of the closing Allegro non troppo is lyrical. All that's fine as far as it goes. But the energy that courses through the opening Allegro and the Allegretto's Trio, the soulful strength that soars in the Andante, the overwhelming climaxes of the opening and closing movements are not nice, light, airy, and lyrical. They are massive, monumental, and imagined on a far, far grander scale. Likewise, the powerful pessimism of the "Tragic Overture" and the brilliant optimism of the "Academic Festival Overture" are not nice, light, airy, and lyrical, they are the Janus-faces of Brahms' music. While the London Philharmonic plays superbly and Alsop conducts satisfactorily, these performances are merely fine as far as they go, but they don't go nearly far enough. For great performances in terrific sound, try Claudio Abbado's with the Berlin Philharmonic. For the greatest performance of the "Symphony No. 1" ever recorded in passable sound, try Wilhelm Furtw�ngler's with the NDR Hamburg.
Gramophone - Richard Osborne
These are the kind of bold, generous-spirited performances which a Stokowski or Koussevitsky would probably have been pleased to hear. The sound is full, warm and accommodating.... These are humane, affectionate performances from which browsers and bargain-minded first-time buyers should derive a good deal of pleasure.
Los Angeles Times - Adam Baer
Marin Alsop offers a sumptuously lyrical rendition of the composer's First Symphony and two overtures.... Alsop blends Romantic symphonic convention with the organic phrasing and transitions of a chamber musician. She summons a bright, singing sound from the London Philharmonic, and each gesture flows, yoga-like, into the next.
Courier-Post - Robert Baxter
Alsop leads a lithe and gracefully pliant reading. She finds the musical pulse and clarifies the various instrumental strands in this well-recorded version of the familiar symphony.
Seattle Times - Melinda Bargreen
These are deft, spirited performances that bring out the grandeur of the music but also its complexities and inner voices. Brava.
Newark Star-Ledger - Bradley Bambarger
Alsop's approach to the First Symphony is suitably dramatic, with gutsy playing by the London Philharmonic.... Alsop outscores such rivals as Bernard Haitink in the "Tragic" Overture by keeping the drama on an ultra-taut rein. Overall, this disc bodes well for her enterprise.
Oakland Tribune - Stephanie von Buchau
This is an energetic, meticulously organized and generously expansive album, with the "Tragic" and "Academic" overtures added to the Symphony.... well recorded; beautifully played; handsome new cover art.

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Product Details

Release Date:
02/22/2005
Label:
Naxos
UPC:
0747313242825
catalogNumber:
8557428
Rank:
222178

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 68  - Johannes Brahms  - Marin Alsop  -  London Philharmonic Orchestra  - Michael Thornton
  2. Tragic Overture, in D minor, Op. 81  - Johannes Brahms  - Marin Alsop  -  London Philharmonic Orchestra  - Michael Thornton
  3. Academic Festival Overture, for orchestra in C minor ("Akademische Festouvertüre"), Op. 80  - Johannes Brahms  - Marin Alsop  -  London Philharmonic Orchestra  - Michael Thornton

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