Johannes Brahms: Symphony No. 1 in C minor op. 68 – the Cleveland Orchestra Orchestra conducted George Szell
Contemporary critics tended to regard Brahms’s First Symphony as follow up to Beethoven’s nine symphonies, arising from its lofty, solemn expression, its melodramatic construction and occasional motivic similarities. Fully conscious of the tremendous symphonic heritage left by Beethoven, it took Brahms 14 years to complete his symphony and present it to the public. The desolate seriousness, the disconcerting asceticism in the short themes of the work, which »does not recommend itself on account of its charm« (Brahms), has tempted many an interpreter to tone the performance down emotionally or to enhance the drama. The maestro George Szell avoided such dangers by tackling the score dauntlessly. The agonizing minor-key introduction in 6/8 time surges steadily onwards, the tempi remain taut, whilst all the details of the jagged score are brought to the fore. In the final movement the noble ‘Alphorn’ theme strides forward, and is escalated by the syncopated strings that rush on with breathless furioso. The sheer number of recordings of this monumental work is an indication that the listener must work hard to discover all the fascinating aspects in each bar of Brahms’s composition. The present recording is well qualified for this undertaking.
This Speakers Corner LP was remastered using pure analogue components only, from the master tapes through to the cutting head. More information under www.pure-analogue.com.
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