Semyon Bychkov

Brahms: The 4 Symphonies

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Avie's triple-SACD set of Johannes Brahms' four symphonies is breathtaking for its absolutely clear DSD sound and deep, multichannel reproduction, but it is most rewarding for the magnificent performances by Semyon Bychkov and the WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln. One is constantly reminded of legendary performances from the past, and Bychkov's richly conceived and penetrating interpretations rank with them, without doubt. If Walter, Szell, or Toscanini come to mind, it is because Bychkov's standards are just as high, and he inspires his orchestra to deliver truly noble performances that meet his extraordinary demands. It may be equally extraordinary to say that Bychkov's humanity and spirit permeate these sublime performances, but there is a real generosity of expression that could only come from this passionate conductor; and it is not unreasonable to note that the music's warmth, subtlety, and clarity reflect Bychkov's ability to communicate with his musicians. The spacious grandeur in the Symphony No. 1, the jubilant excitement in the Symphony No. 2, the pensive yearning in the Symphony No. 3, and the decisive power in the Symphony No. 4 can be credited to Bychkov's profound understanding of the scores and his exceptional rapport with the orchestra. Hearing these recordings is a deeply satisfying experience, and this set is absolutely recommended.

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