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CD Feature - Brahms: "Symphony No. 1"

img  Tobias

He was big in Utah: Maurice Abravanel led the state’s Symphony Orchestra for a whopping 32 years, establishing it as one of the finest ensembles of the USA and creating a flair of grandeur and internationalism. Under his wings, Classical Music flourished and found its way to the most remote rural areas, to schools and to every place where people were willing to listen. And Seymour Solomon wanted to listen.

One of the two brothers that made Vanguard a trademark for excellence in recording and repertoire, was compelled by Abravanels way of gently coaxing an orchestra to where he wanted them to be and his strife for passion and supremeness. That’s why he teamed up with the Greece-born conductor (who was actually half Spanish, half Portuguese) regularly and thereby documented his legacy in a rare minuteness. As with the other releases on Silverline Classics, the recording of Brahms’ first Symphony is a question of personal preferences. If you’re looking for a huge wall of strings and a wide, spaceous feeling, you’ll have to go somewhere else. Instead, this is an intimate Brahms, the sound neither overtly lavish nor voluptous, relying on intricate mood swings between careful optimism and crushing defeatism and some menacingly forceful bass-frequencies. The orchestra creates an all-apparent premonition of doom, never allowing the listener to breathe at ease. It seems only logical, then, that Abravenel has decided to preserve some of the rough edges of the score, instead of opting for a smooth picture.

Some may find this approach lacking in power and there’s something to be said for that. But then there’s enough interpretations that go down that alley and only few that have this eery and tingly quality. The DVD extras are mostly short, but the 16-minute eulogy by Ardean Watts is a touching and deeply personal insight into Abravenel’s character, which by itself justifies buying this Dual Disc.

by tocafi

Homepage: Silverline Classics
Homepage: Maurice Abravanel

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