As malignant a performance of Brahms' Symphony No. 2 as has ever been recorded, Neeme Järvi and the London Symphony Orchestra's 1988 recording does the worst thing a performance can do to a piece of music: it makes it sound like a bad piece of music. And Järvi accomplishes this not by resorting to the bathetic bombast of late Karajan or to the bizarre idiosyncrasies of late Bernstein, but by resorting to the basest banality. The melancholy mystery of the horn calls that open the Allegro non troppo? Missing. The deepening gloom of the Adagio non troppo? Shallow. The pretty pastorale of the Allegretto grazioso? Platitudinous. The exhilarating excitement of the closing Allegro con spirito? Vacuous and vapid, null and void. All the things that make Brahms' Second a great symphony are gone from Järvi's interpretation and all that's left is a well-played, decently conducted work sounding not much worse but certainly no better than Bruch or Raff's Third symphonies. There are very few recordings of Schumann's Overture to Julius Caesar and this is the worst. Chandos' early digital sound is loud, louder, and loudest.
AllMusic Review by James Leonard
|Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 73|