Charles Mackerras

Brahms: Symphonies Nos. 3 & 4

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As superb as the playing of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra is in Charles Mackerras' recordings of Brahms' Third and Fourth symphonies -- as clean, as crisp, as colorful, as virtuosic -- one has to say that, in the final analysis, one wishes Mackerras had used the London Symphony or the Vienna Philharmonic or the Czech Philharmonic instead. As hearteningly warm as the Scots' winds playing is, as heroic as the brass playing is, as sweet as the string playing is, in the big moments, in the bigger climaxes, in the final codas, one wishes Mackerras had used an orchestra with a full-sized string section. As poignant as the winds are in the Poco allegretto of the Third, one wishes Mackerras had a bigger band to tear into the climax of the development of the closing Allegro. As moving as the cellos are in the recapitulation of the Andante moderato of the Fourth, one wishes Mackerras had a larger ensemble to blast the opening theme of the closing Allegro enegrico e passionato. Because while one can only applaud the Scots' playing and admire Mackerras' interpretations, a late-Romantic orchestra really is the most appropriate medium for late-Romantic symphonies. Telarc's sound is deep, open, and true.

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