Mariss Jansons / Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra

Brahms: Symphonien Nos. 1 & 4

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Given the ready availability of complete sets of Johannes Brahms' four symphonies, BR Klassik's decision to split Mariss Jansons' survey into two double-SACD packages seems inexplicable. The year 2011 saw the release of the Second and Third symphonies, and the 2012 release of the First and Fourth symphonies completes the cycle, noticeably without any extras. Considering that there are attractive complete sets on the market that include additional works, such as the Academic Festival Overture, the Tragic Overture, and the Haydn Variations, this presentation doesn't offer much value to the consumer. Jansons' live performances with the esteemed Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra are respectable, though it's reasonable to say that experienced listeners have heard better and likely own more insightful and penetrating interpretations by other artists. The benefits of multichannel recording conceivably weigh in Jansons' favor, and these hybrid SACDs are superior to ordinary CDs, though even here, there are problems with the clarity of the orchestra's details and the separation of parts. Unless one is a dedicated fan of the conductor or of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, these are adequate recordings that are useful for following along with a score, but insufficient for inspiring listeners.

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