Staatskapelle Berlin & Daniel Barenboim – Brahms: Symphonies (2018)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/96 kHz | Time – 02:59:46 minutes | 3,02 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Master, Official Digital Download | Digital Booklet, Front Cover | © Deutsche Grammophon (DG)
More than 120 years after the death of Johannes Brahms, the answer to this question would seem to be a foregone conclusion. Not even Arnold Schoenberg’s essay “Brahms the Progressive”, famed at least for its title, has done anything substantial to change it. Schoenberg pointed to the asymmetry and irregularity of Brahms’s phrase structure, his stern adherence to and sharpening of Beethoven’s technique of dislodging the “strong” beats until the rhythm as we previously knew it fully dissolves. What we hear as downbeats are more likely to be upbeats, and vice versa.
And all of this with an astonishing economy of means. Schoenberg’s shrewd self-assessment, “I’m a conservative, I conserve progress”, is a splendid invitation to question hackneyed clichés and labels. On the one side Brahms, the “last of his kind”, a mere custodian, a conservative, perhaps a reactionary? On the other side Schoenberg the iconoclast and professional revolutionary?
Things should be so simple! Still, Brahms makes it easy on the surface for posterity to see him as a custodian, a fulfiller, whether in his politics, his adherence to traditional forms (sonata and symphony) or in his phrase structure, at first glance as symmetrical as ever before (eight-bar periods and so forth). But all of this merely forms a framework for what is actually going on, especially in the symphonies. The symphony has become a field of experimentation, a place for testing earlier forms for their validity in the here and now (witness the concluding passacaglia of the Fourth!), a place where conventional notions of harmony and rhythm start to blur. The flavour of recitative in, say, the unison pizzicato introducing the finale of the Fourth is truly unprecedented in its instability: the ground sways beneath the feet, safety is nowhere to be found, an existential dread of being cast upon the mercy of natural forces.
1. Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 68: 1. Un poco sostenuto – Allegro – Meno allegro 14:34
2. Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 68: 2. Andante sostenuto 10:28
3. Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 68: 3. Un poco allegretto e grazioso 05:23
4. Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 68: 4. Adagio – Piu andante – Allegro non troppo, ma con brio – Piu allegro 18:30
5. Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 73: 1. Allegro non troppo 16:28
6. Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 73: 2. Adagio non troppo – L’istesso tempo, ma grazioso 10:49
7. Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 73: 3. Allegretto grazioso (Quasi andantino) – Presto ma non assai 06:03
8. Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 73: 4. Allegro con spirito 10:10
9. Symphony No. 3 in F Major, Op. 90: 1. Allegro con brio – Un poco sostenuto – Tempo I 14:32
10. Symphony No. 3 in F Major, Op. 90: 2. Andante 10:57
11. Symphony No. 3 in F Major, Op. 90: 3. Poco allegretto 07:00
12. Symphony No. 3 in F Major, Op. 90: 4. Allegro 10:20
13. Symphony No. 4 in E Minor, Op. 98: 1. Allegro non troppo 13:45
14. Symphony No. 4 in E Minor, Op. 98: 2. Andante moderato 12:50
15. Symphony No. 4 in E Minor, Op. 98: 3. Allegro giocoso – Poco meno presto – Tempo I 07:00
16. Symphony No. 4 in E Minor, Op. 98: 4. Allegro energico e passionato – Più allegro 10:49
Daniel Barenboim, conductor