Stanislaw Skrowaczewski / Deutsche Radio Philharmonie Saarbrücken Kaiserslautern

Brahms: Symphony No. 1

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Under the direction of Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, the Deutsche Radio Philharmonie Saarbrücken Kaiserslautern delivers a solid performance of Johannes Brahms' Symphony No. 1 in C minor that bears comparison with many other first-rate readings. For anyone who wants a straightforward interpretation that can be enjoyed and studied with ease, this is a reliable rendition that is entirely uncontroversial and doesn't pretend to offer a unique view of Brahms' music or a historically authentic interpretation. Skrowaczewski's traditional tempos and unhurried pacing reflect a mainstream understanding of this symphony, and while it may be conservative and predictable, it has none of the rethinking of a John Eliot Gardiner or a Roger Norrington. Indeed, if it weren't for the fact that Skrowaczewski conducted this performance in 2011 (and that taking the repeat of the first movement's exposition is a contemporary practice), it might easily be mistaken for a classic recording from decades past. On the negative side, there is a small problem of intonation in the second movement's solo violin part that might disturb some sensitive ears, and some tuning issues in the third movement. One might also wish that Oehms Classics' sound had been fuller and richer and that the orchestra had better presence and spatiousness. But aside from these minor complaints, this is a fine recording that most listeners will accept as perfectly serviceable for their needs.

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