Brahms: Symphony No. 2 / Gardiner

Album cover art for upc 843183070329
Catalog: SDG703
Format: CD

Brahms: Alto Rhapsody Op.53 / Symphony No.2 in D major Op.73 (1877)
Franz Schubert (1797-1828): Gesang der Geister über den Wassern D714 (1821) / Gruppe aus dem Tartarus D583 (1817, arr. Brahms 1871) / An Schwager Kronos D369 (1816, arr. Brahms 1871)

Following on from the phenomenal worldwide success of the first release in the Brahms series (recently nominated in the orchestral category of the 2009 BBC Music Awards), SDG continues the series with Brahms' Symphony 2 which sees John Eliot Gardiner and his Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique explore the music of Johannes Brahms.
Importantly, Gardiner has set Brahms' symphonies in the context of his own superb and often neglected choral music, and that of the old masters he particularly cherished (Schütz and Bach especially) and of recent heroes of his (Mendelssohn, Schubert and Schumann).
The recordings from this series are drawn from Gardiner’s two-year Brahms and his Antecedents project which not only celebrated Brahms the composer, but traced the roots from which Brahms drew his creative inspiration. No other composer of the 19th century had such a close and informed relationship to music of the past and for this reason, great choral works by composers as varied as Bach, Schütz and Mendelssohn are performed alongside Brahms' compositions.
Brahms' dark, deeply personal and moving Alto Rhapsody for alto solo, male chorus and orchestra is included here alongside three choral works by Franz Schubert. In Schubert's Gesang der Geister über den Wassern D714 (1821) comparisons between the two composers could not be more clear. Brahms draws on the effective example of his beloved Schubert firstly by composing the rhapsody for male chorus and secondly, basing the work upon a poem by Goethe.
The lyrical beauty of Brahms's Second Symphony makes it perhaps the most popular of the four works he composed in this form. The contrast between this symphony and the heroic First is complete, and it is strikingly analogous to the differences between Beethoven's Fifth and Sixth symphonies.
Inside the same elegant packaging used for the Bach Cantatas CDs, the booklet notes feature an in-depth conversation between John Eliot Gardiner and composer Hugh Wood.

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