BRAHMS: Haydn-Variations; Serenade No. 1 for Large Orchestra in D Major; Hungarian Dances Nos. 1, 3 & 10 – Bamberger Symphony/ Robin Ticciati – Tudor/BR Klassick

by | Dec 5, 2011 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews

BRAHMS: Haydn-Variations Op. 56a; Serenade No. 1 for Large Orchestra in D Major, Op. 11; Hungarian Dances Nos. 1, 3 & 10 – Bamberger Symphony/ Robin Ticciati – Tudor/BR Klassick 7183, 68:44 [Distr. by Naxos] ****:
An excellent Brahms SACD with the Bavarian State Philharmonic and their young conductor Ticciati, but up against rather stern competition in two other fine SACD versions of the Serenade No.1 (both also include the Serenade No. 2) plus nine other SACD versions of the popular Haydn Variations. (Of the Serenades, my choice is the pairing of both of them conducted by Bernard Haitink on LSO Live.)
The two major Brahms works here were written on his arduous path toward writing the first of his four symphonies. He had terrible misgivings after first hearing Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, and wrote to a friend that he would never write a symphony. The First Serenade was originally going to be an octet; it went thru many changes on its way to being the First Serenade.  Haydn’s Finale of the London Symphony inspired the theme of Brahms’ first movement. The Serenade’s first three movement total about a half hour; the Minuet, Scherzo and Finale at the end seem more like the expected Serenade.
The theme which Brahms used in his Haydn Variations is not even definitely attributed to Haydn today. The mystery of the St. Anthony Chorale is still not solved. It’s key of B-Flat is heard in all the variations except Nos. 2, 4 & 8, which are all in a minor key. The finale of the work was a precursor of the Finale of his Fourth Symphony.  The Haydn Variations went over so well with audiences that it paved the way for the composer to finally write his First Symphony three years later.
Good surround sonics thruout, and a sprightly treatment of the three Hungarian Dances to wrap up the program.
—John Sunier

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