Vladimir Jurowski / London Philharmonic Orchestra

Brahms: Symphonies 3 & 4

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Brahms: Symphonies 3 & 4 Review

by Blair Sanderson

Vladimir Jurowski and the London Philharmonic Orchestra released the first volume of the symphonies of Johannes Brahms in 2010, and this second volume appeared four years later, a long wait between discs. Yet anyone who enjoys Jurowski's readings will find that his interpretations are all of a piece, and his unique approach to Brahms hasn't changed in the interim. His tendency to streamline the music with brisker tempos and airier textures makes the Symphony No. 3 in F major and the Symphony No. 4 in E minor seem updated, just as the first two symphonies seemed. However, Jurowski isn't attempting a historically based revision of Brahms, in the manner of John Eliot Gardiner or Roger Norrington, because the size of the orchestra, the use of rubato, and conventional phrasing make that clear. The problem lies in the engineering, which sometimes shortchanges the bass and middle registers and over-emphasizes the treble, making the orchestra seem brighter and more focused but decidedly less full and burnished, which almost all traditional recordings of Brahms symphonies offer. But the brisker tempos are decidedly Jurowski's doing, so fans of deliberately paced and grander sounding Brahms will give this disc a pass, while those who are open to highly personal renditions may give these performances a try.

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