Friday, October 1, 2010
Brahms/Mozart - Karl Böhm, Bavarian RSO
I can't recall where online I found this recording, but I think it offers excellent deliveries of both the Brahms Symphony No. 1 and the Ninth Piano Concerto of Mozart. Very good sound quality on this analog recording. I haven't found any instance of this on Amazon and have found only a very few mentions of it on the web.
I'll focus first on Brahms. Böhm gives a thrilling performance with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra (i.e. Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks). There's no sluggishness here, so even the grumpy moments in the first movement have plenty of energy. The second movement is lyrical, and the third has all the woodwind charm you'd hope for. The finale: outstanding. This is among my favorite movements of his symphonies. I can't help but think of Brahms's famous quote, "A symphony is no joke," when I listen to this. He put his all into this first finale - keep in mind it took him until his forties when he finally wrote the First Symphony. The wait was well worth it. The last movement has mysterious pizzicato, Alpine French horn, autumnal brilliance, great moments of triumph, Sturm und Drang... all tied together in an exciting way. Listen for the chorale theme that appears around the first horn solo. The theme reappears at the end, all in blazes.
Böhm's Mozart here sounds on par with his famous Beethoven Pastoral recording - graceful, playful, all the things you'd want in a Mozart recording. I'm no expert on this particular concerto, but Friedrich Gulda is a great pianist. He loved Mozart, and it shows.
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