Gustav Kuhn

Brahms: The 4 Symphonies

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This 2008 group of Brahms symphonies with Gustav Kuhn leading the Haydn Orchestra of Bolzano and Trento is poor in every way. Kuhn elicits thick, nearly impenetrable textures from his players that make Brahms' warm orchestrations sound flabby and grey, and his tempi are almost universally turgid. There is no pulse, no heartbeat, no life to be found in his vision of Brahms. To make matters worse, the orchestra seems incapable of producing a recognizable Brahmsian sound. Instead of lush strings, pungent winds, blended brass, and an ensemble as luxurious as a mink coat, the Haydn Orchestra of Bolzano and Trento has skimpy strings, watery winds, timid brass, and an ensemble that's more like a threadbare sport coat. Together, conductor and orchestra turn in performances that do no justice to these magnificent works and that are more likely to send listeners back to Walter, Klemperer, and Furtwängler's classic performances than to elicit more listenings to these performances. Col Legno's digital sound is clean, clear, and colorful, but somehow not coherent.

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