Mariss Jansons / Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra

Brahms: Symphonien Nr. 2 & 3

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Mariss Jansons' SACD releases on BR Klassik sometimes compete with his earlier recordings of the same music on other labels. His 2011 album of Johannes Brahms' Second and Third symphonies covers the same works that were released in 1999 on Simax, though the live performance by the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra has the advantage of DSD multichannel recording, where the older reading with the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra was a standard digital CD. Beyond the benefit of state-of-the-art reproduction, this is a respectable run-through of Brahms' middle symphonies, though devotees of these works may feel that Jansons doesn't rise to a high level in his interpretations, and the BRSO is not exactly inspired in its playing. That the performances are merely adequate is arguable, but nothing special emerges that compels the listener to stick with the symphonies from beginning to end, either for emotional insights or for brilliant execution. Even the orchestral sound is nothing special, despite the audiophile presentation. All the notes can be heard, and most of the rhythms and tempos are together, with only a few spots of imprecision, so the music is good for following along with a score. But in a market that is full of great, even legendary, performances of Brahms' symphonies -- many as sets of all four masterpieces -- this pairing seems only average and not much of an enticement to purchase.

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