This is only the second installment in Iván Fischer's series of the symphonies of Johannes Brahms on Channel Classics, but it already seems that the standard box set is being planned. His 2009 release of the Symphony No. 1 in C minor was paired with the Variations on a Theme by Haydn, while this hybrid SACD presents the Symphony No. 2 in D major with the Tragic Overture and the Academic Festival Overture. Assuming the next volumes offer the Symphony No. 3 in F major and the Symphony No. 4 in E minor, with no other filler pieces, then Fischer will have completed the customary Brahms symphonic set, ready for immediate reissue. This possibility may influence prospective buyers to get the recordings in one convenient package, but Fischer's Brahms is good enough to have as the albums are being released. It's hard to argue with Fischer's interpretive choices, because he fully grasps Brahms' intellectuality as well as his deep expressiveness, and touches the emotional core of the Second Symphony with complete sympathy and clarity of purpose. The Budapest Festival Orchestra is easily inspired by Fischer, and the musicians play with the fullness of tone and rhythmic flexibility of a world-class orchestra. Add to this the extraordinary audio quality that gives the orchestra credible presence and wonderful resonance, and it's easy to understand why connoisseurs might want to snap up the separate releases and not wait for a future complete cycle. Highly recommended.
AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 73|