Simone Young

Johannes Brahms: Sinfonie No. 2; Tragische Ouvertüre

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Simone Young and the Hamburg Philharmonic have emerged as important interpreters of late Romantic music, and their hybrid SACDs on Oehms Classics are highly regarded for their sonic clarity, expressive depth, and technical polish. Young has recorded the symphonies of Anton Bruckner, and in 2010 she began her cycle of Johannes Brahms' symphonies, thereby giving equal attention to the leading symphonists working in late 19th century Vienna. Though the musical feuds between their opposed camps are now history, one might still ask if Young is better in one composer's music than the other; certainly, her interpretations of Bruckner's symphonies are compelling and important for her insights into the original versions of those works, while her Brahms is perhaps more predictable because of the greater familiarity of his symphonies. The Symphony No. 2 in D major is a classic that most listeners know well, so it's difficult to make it fresh and appealing, though Young does a good job making it feel much more vital and propulsive than it usually does. Nothing here is revelatory or controversial, though Young emphasizes certain sonorities in the orchestration, notably in the lower brass, that give the music special warmth and luster, and her broad phrasing and connected trajectory give it wonderful coherence and emotional sweep. At the mid-point of Brahms' cycle, Young is assuredly leaving her mark on these hallowed pieces, and completion of this series will create a strong customer demand.

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