Thursday, November 01, 2007

A month of Brahms: my top five

You might recall a few days back I indicated Seattle and the town's musical institutions are heading into what seems like a mini Brahms festival. In honor of all the Brahms about to swirl around me over the next few weeks, here are my top five Brahms albums.

  • Academic Festival Overture: Scholastic themes run amok. What's not to like? Eugene Jochum's performance along with Symphonies 1-3 is my choice
  • Symphonies No.1-4: This one is a hard one for me. There are so many good cycles out there. Karajan turned in a handful of good recordings. Alsop's recently completed cycle isn't too shabby either. There is also the lumbering Barenboim/CSO release from a few years ago. My favorite probably wouldn't be considered a favorite by anyone but me, is Paavo Berglund and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe's release on Ondine. All four symphonies are clearly conceived and never weighted down unnecessarily.
  • Double Concerto: Normal Lebrecht cited EMI's recording of the work with Oistrakh and Rostropovich and as one of the worst recordings ever. He's wrong of course. This is a dream-team effort that doesn't disappoint. Really, I mean it.
  • A German Requiem: Robert Shaw and the Atlanta Symphony is my first choice. Although, Rattle's recent EMI release is pretty good too.
  • Clarinet Trio: Oh how I love this work. Fortunately, Emanuel Ax, Yo Yo Ma and Richard Stoltzman recorded this work splendidly for Sony a few years ago.

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