Brahms
Concerto in A minor for violin, cello and orchestra, Op.102
Symphony No.2 in D, Op.73
Gordan Nikolitch (violin) &
Tim Hugh (cello)

London Symphony Orchestra
Bernard Haitink

Recorded 17-18 May 2003 at the Barbican Hall, London
CD No: LSO LIVE LSO0043
Duration: 75 minutes
Reviewed: January 2004
The first LSO Live release of 2004, the LSO’s centenary year. If not ground-breaking in terms of repertoire, or in developing Bernard Haitink’s discography (this issue begins his third recorded Brahms symphony cycle), it’s a fine achievement, excellently recorded (albeit with a little reverberation added, it seems) and presents an equable balance between the two soloists and orchestra in the concerto. Both LSO principals are splendid in this striding, sometimes visceral account, which also unashamedly retreats to some glorious moments of sweet beauty. There’s a real sense of teamwork here, very appropriate to a work born out of reconciliation
Haitink’s view of Brahms’s nominally pastoral symphony is a familiar one. As in Amsterdam, but not in Boston, he omits the exposition repeat, and conducts through the first movement with an indivisibility, and an expressional breadth, that leaves one in no doubt as to Brahms’s symphonic mastery. It’s not a tight performance though; rather, it’s one that eschews diversionary tactics, breathes naturally and places faith in the score, which is revealed through sympathetic orchestral playing and lucid, long-viewed conducting, which all seems perfectly reasonable!
No applause greets either performance, as is LSO Live’s policy, which seems both understandable, especially as two concerts have been utilised (maybe a patch or two, also), and also a little contrary.
Nevertheless, this is a distinguished release, the Double Concerto alone worth the CD’s modest price.

 

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