BRAHMS: Symphony No. 4 in E Minor – London Symphony Orchestra/Bernard Haitink – LSO Live

by | Oct 17, 2005 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

BRAHMS: Symphony No. 4 in E Minor – London Symphony
Orchestra/Bernard Haitink – LSO Live  multichannel SACD LSO0547,
41:24 ****:

The SACD versions of many of the LSO standard CD releases continue with
this excellent offering from the world’s most-recorded symphony
orchestra, conducted by the Honorary Conductor of the Royal
Concertgebouw Orchestra. Recorded just last year before a live
audience, and directly to DSD (instead of first to PCM as done by many
SACD releases). The surround mix puts the listener in one of the best
seats in the house.

The Fourth is a bit harder-edged than the earlier three Brahms
symphonies.  In fact it struck audiences and critics at its
premiere as overly gritty.  Brahms’ manipulation of the various
themes is highly ingenious and there is a strong emotional feeling in
spite of the fairly rigid structural construction common to the
composers’ work. Often unexpected rhythms are used, combined with a
very Brahmsian alternation between major and minor keys.  These
qualities are often attributed to the composer’s fascination with
Hungarian folk music and gypsy music, which both abound in these
devices. The horn calls in the opening movement are beautifully
conveyed with the surround option bringing the listener  the
impression of the sounds bouncing off the rear of the auditorium –
difficult or impossible to capture in just two channels. The work’s
finale, rather than following the sonata form of the first three
movements, employs a Passacaglia or variations on a repeated bass theme
which is derived from a chorus of Bach’s Cantata No. 150, but also may
remind one of the famous Bach Chaconne.

– John Sunier

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