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Peter Quantrill
Gramophone, September 2012

Rob Cowan found the First Symphony of this cycle heavy-set (3/11) and the Second pursues a similarly direct and unhurried course, through the first two movements at least. Setting the tone of the sound and performance is the solitary pizzicato at 1’16” that launches the main subject, a deft counterpart to the more explosive and extrovert moment in the First. I like the gradual gain of momentum through the Allegro towards the impassioned second subject and Simone Young holds back just enough at cadence points to acknowledge their importance. The rarely heard bridge back to the exposition repeat is particularly convincing, as though Brahms is weighing his ideas on a set of scales.

Try the span of the slow movement’s opening melody…you can’t teach this stuff but it’s an object lesson in what Furtwängler saw as the hardest achievement of all, the creation of a genuine legato. Knappertsbusch used to do Brahms in this way: roughly hewn, brushing doubts aside, unsurprisingly north German, and no less authentic than Viennese or Meiningen-Radiant tone and brilliant technique: Philippe Quint plays Beethoven, Bruch and Mendelssohn influenced perspectives offered recently by Mariss Jansons and Andrew Manze respectively.

The Tragic Overture…completes a fine release. © 2012 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone

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