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SIG 132
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SIG 132
(this is a multiple CD album sold separately)

Brahms: Symphonies 2 and 4

The Classical Shop
release date: August 2008

Originally recorded in 2008


Philharmonia Orchestra

Christoph von Dohnanyi


Royal Festival Hall, London

(Sym. 2) 28/6/07

Queen Elizabeth Hall, London

(Sym. 4) 4/2/07


Misha Donat


Jonathan Stokes

(Sym. 2)

Mike Hatch


Record Label


Orchestral & Concertos

Total Time - 85:33
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Select Complete Single Disc for
  CD ONE  

Symphony No. 2

1 I Andante - Allegro non troppo 21:22
2 II Adagio 9:05
3 III Scherzo 4:59
4 IV Finale: Allegro con spirito 9:55
  TT 45:24      
  CD TWO  

Select Complete Single Disc for

Symphony No. 4

1 I Allegro non troppo 12:43
2 II Andante moderato 11:26
3 III Scherzo 6:18
4 IV Finale: Passacaglia 9:45
  TT 40:15      
 Christoph von Dohnanyi

Symphony No. 2

Its idyllic nature, sheer tunefulness and general sunny disposition earned Brahms an unmitigated triumph in its premiere performance in Vienna in 1877. Since then, it has been described as the sunny counterpart to the storm clouds of his First Symphony.

Symphony No. 4

This work conveys Brahms’ imaginative writing combining sheer intelligence with unexpected comic turns. The Finale is still considered to be one of the most exhilarating movements in the entire orchestral repertoire.

The Philharmonia Orchestra is widely recognised as the UK’s finest orchestra with an impressive recording legacy. Christoph Von Dohnányi has been principle conductor for the past 11 years and in the coming season will be made Honorary Conductor for life.


"The chemistry is magical. The works may be old warhorses, but the performances are as fresh as daisies.”

Kenneth Walton - 15 August 2008

"A rare coupling here of Brahm’s most gloriously lyrical symphony with the finest of the four, with its exalted finale, a Passacaglia which in essence is almost certainly the greatest set of variations outside the music of Bach. Dohnányi has its full measure, with every detail revealed in a perceptively paced onward flow moving to its exultant apotheosis. Flautist Richard Adeney once told me that the espessivo flute solo which comes about a quarter of the way through the movement is one of the most musically demanding passages in the repertoire and it is played here with just the right balance between intensity and repose. The opening movement, gripping in its lyrical simplicity, is also very successful, and the Andante (with another lovely poco espressivo as the coda approaches) makes a richly expressive counterpart to the exuberantly volatile Allegro giocoso Scherzo. In short, this is a most enjoyable performance and the recording, made in the Queen Elizabeth Hall is well balanced (by Mike Hatch) and satisfying.

Alas, the Second Symphony is a disappointment. The Festival Hall recording is much less satisfactory and the orchestral detail far from vivid. Dohnányi is inclined to lumber in the climaxes of the exposition in the opening movement following an unradiant opening, and after a warm but not very memorable Adagio the Scherzo has limited charm. The work’s highlight is the finale, with a surging flow of energy; and the closing pages carry the day with passionate, enthusiastic aplomb. But it is the Fourth Symphony one remembers here."

Ivan March


Gramophone Magazine - November 2008

"These live performances are engrossing beyond the call of duty: Dohnányi puts joy at the centre of the Fourth Symphony and his second penetrates to its core."  *****

Classic FM - November 2008

"Recorded live at concerts in the Festival Hall (No 2) and the Queen Elizabeth Hall (No 4) last year, these are thoughtful, aristocratic, refined performances under Dohnanyi, who allows this music its space, yet gives it purpose and shape. The opening movement of the Second Symphony unfolds in an atmosphere of extraordinary unhurried calm, while there are plenty of passages of pure, sweet, mellow indulgence, as in the Fourth’s second movement. There’s also vigour and crisp rhythms where needed, and Dohnanyi and his fine team achieve an apt sense of the momentous in these great works."

Stephen Pettitt

The Times - 7 September 2008, 26th August 2008
**** 4 stars

Agnes Kory - 26 August 2008

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