Dresden Staatskapelle / Christian Thielemann

Brahms: Symphonies; Overtures

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Sets of the four symphonies of Johannes Brahms often resemble each other, not only because the style of the performances varies little from one conductor to the next, but also because they are usually offered with Brahms' three major orchestral works as obligatory filler. In this 2014 Deutsche Grammophon set by Christian Thielemann and the Staatskapelle Dresden, the Tragic Overture and the Academic Festival Overture are the extras, though one misses that usual standby, the Variations on a Theme of Haydn, which was presumably dropped for space. Musically, Thielemann's interpretations are solidly conservative and reliable, and the playing of the Dresden orchestra is equal to the best performances ever recorded. Deutsche Grammophon's recording is superb, as always, so the typical concerns over the ensemble's balance and clarity of textures are allayed by the transparent audio. Perhaps fans of Thielemann will be the first in line for this package, but everyone else should consider sets with more selections.

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