Marcus Bosch / Sinfonieorchester Aachen

Brahms: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 4

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Since 2005, Marcus Bosch and the Aachen Symphony Orchestra have produced several impressive live recordings on Coviello in the hybrid SACD format, offering exceptional performances in spacious multi-channel reproduction. This 2007 album of Johannes Brahms' Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 68, and the Symphony No. 4 in E minor, Op. 98, is representative of their work at its best, and Bosch and his orchestra revitalize these familiar masterpieces with propulsive tempos, crisp articulation, distinctive timbres, and clear divisions of the orchestra's sections, which contribute to the music's transparence and avoid the thick, muddy sound that frequently afflicts Brahms' symphonies. Bosch takes great care to bring out fine details, particularly the secondary melodic lines assigned to woodwinds and brass, and even the timpani seem more intrinsically woven into the counterpoint, thanks to the conductor's emphasis on clarity and coherence. Furthermore, there are no clichés of Romantic interpretation here, no automatic ritardandos or pauses borrowed from traditional practice to make these works seem more noble or dramatic than they already are; Bosch takes the music at face value and lets it move on its own terms, without recourse to grandiose gestures or exaggerations of expression. In the end, these two symphonies are less like stuffy museum pieces, and thanks to Coviello's magnificent sound, they actually seem newly minted and exciting to hear again. Highly recommended.

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