Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks - BRSO

Mariss Jansons – Brahms: The Symphonies

CD: Mariss Jansons – Brahms: Die Symphonien © BR-KLASSIK Label

This 3-CD box set presents the complete symphonic cycle by Johannes Brahms, performed by the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks under the baton of Mariss Jansons. The four symphonies represent the culmination of Johannes Brahms′ symphonic oeuvre and are at the same time in many respects forward-looking and innovative.

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Brahms goes a step further in his 1st symphony: the way he develops all themes in the first movement from a motivic core and even grasps the accompanying voices is innovative. This motivic-contrapuntal work permeates all the other movements of this symphony, right up to the liberating alphorn theme, which is addressed to Clara Schumann as a love greeting.

The juxtaposition of Symphonies Nos. 2 and 3 illustrates particularly vividly the composer’s stylistic development. He wrote his second symphony immediately after the first, that symphonic breakthrough work which, after an approximately twenty-year process of composition, finally emerged as a valid statement in relation to the work of the “giant” Ludwig van Beethoven. Compared to the rapturous Second, Symphony No. 3 appears much more abstract and reduced in formal progression. Absolute constructive rigor takes precedence over sprawling tone painting. Contrasting rhythmic models, close motivic linking and a quite idiosyncratic harmonic disposition characterize the shape of the work.

Reminiscences of Beethoven can still be heard in his 4th Symphony. Even the Passacaglia in the finale of the fourth movement, “borrowed” from a Bach cantata, seems backward-looking at first, although with it he has entered new symphonic territory. Brahms, who had a reputation for conservatism, will thus continue to give creative impulses to a coming young generation of composers.

In these live recordings from the Musikverein in Vienna and the Herkulessaal in Munich, conducted by Mariss Jansons, the beauty of Johannes Brahms’ symphonic creativity is on full display.

Symphony No. 1 in C minor, op. 68
(Live recording, Munich, Herkulessaal Oct. 30-31, 2007)

Symphony No. 2 in D major, op. 73
(Live recording, Munich, Herkulessaal 16./17.03.2006)

Symphony No. 3 F major, op. 90
(Live recording, Vienna, Musikverein, 16.01.2010)

Symphony No. 4 E minor, op. 98
(Live recording, Munich, Herkulessaal, Feb. 6-10, 2012)

Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks
Mariss Jansons conductor