Chailly and the Gewandhaus Orchestra bring their Barbican Brahms cycle to an end

‘I sat down to hear the last concert of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra’s Brahms cycle under Riccardo Chailly at the Barbican with high hopes. Having heard the hype, it seemed that the restrained autumnal shades of the Violin Concerto in D major(with superstar Leonidas Kavakos) and the sheer compositional majesty of theSymphony no. 4 in E minorhad the potential to be the high points of an already much-vaunted cycle. Chailly’s “radical return” to Brahms, as Decca are calling it, has been the subject of much scrutiny. An insistence on cutting through years of performance tradition to find an interpretation that Brahms himself might have understood – according to Chailly – has more than a whiff of the “authentic” performance movement about it, and it was along these lines that the Italian’s interpretations ran. With invariably brisk tempos and highly marked articulation, it was the control of a Norrington that Chailly exercised over his orchestra, and despite the audience’s cheers, I’m not sure it always worked, however impressive a display of Regiemusik it may have been.’

Read the whole review at Bachtrack here.

It was with a heavy heart that I wrote this review. having heard from a colleague that a friend described the Gewandhaus’s performance of the Second Symphony as ‘the best performance of the piece he’d ever heard or could imagine hearing’ I was expecting something rather better than what I heard. I take no pleasure in being as negative as I was, but a barnstorming LSO concert last night relieved my mood considerably; review for Bachtrack to follow…

The Brahmsian Orchestra at its best: Philharmonia Brahms cycle continues with Van Steen 13/10/13

‘The second concert of the Philharmonia’s Brahms cycle saw Brahms’ orchestra at its richest and most full-blooded. Alongside the burnished, glowing colours of the Haydn Variations were placed the autumnal glow of the Third Symphony and the Concerto for Violin and Cello, Brahms’ final orchestral work, with sibling soloists Christian and Tanja Tetzlaff. With an orchestra as marvellous as the Philharmonia, there is really precious little that can go wrong, even more so under the watchful eye of Jac van Steen, standing in for Andris Nelsons. Van Steen, reserved but authoritative in gesture, beamed for most of the concert, and an immaculately detailed – never clinical – sound from the orchestra reflected the loving care with which he approached some of Brahms’ most appealing music.’

Read the whole review at Bachtrack here.