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  LSO Live -
  Brahms: Symphony No. 3, Serenade No. 2 - Haitink
  Brahms: Symphony No. 3, Serenade No. 2

London Symphony Orchestra
Bernard Haitink (conductor)
Track listing:
  Classical - Orchestral
Recording type:
Recording info:
  Recorded live at the Barbican Centre on 21 & 22 May 2003 (Serenade No. 2) and 16 & 17 June 2004 (Symphony No. 3)

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Reviews: 4 show all

Review by nickc November 5, 2004 (10 of 10 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
I've listened to this three times over the past week to see if my initial reaction was correct or not. The Serenade, placed first on the disc, receives a lively performance, something that unfortunately can't be said of the Symphony. My first reaction to the symphony was "it's too slow for me". I realise that there are many different ways to skin a cat but the first and third movements of the symphony really seem to drag at Haitink's tempos. The beginning of the finale lifts a bit but then seems to start dragging a bit as well. Others may like an autumnal reading but I prefer a bit more fire.
The sound is good. For some reason we seem to be in about row ten for the Serenade but the ushers have moved us back to about row 20 for the Symphony. One thing I have noticed with SACD is the improvement in the reproduction of bass; listen to the pizzicato double basses about 40 seconds in to the Serenade to see what I mean, they almost shake the room!
I would give the Serenade 4 1/2 stars and the Symphony 3 1/2 so I'll average them!

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Review by Edvin March 1, 2006 (6 of 6 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
I love this.
Haitink has given us three cycles of these symphonies and the first from Concertgebouw was very good with the third as a highlight. The second cycle, from Boston, was simply boring, partly due to the Philips engineering. This third cycle, well I have only heard this one and I find it absolutely masterful. Half way through the first movement I sort of envisioned this orchestra with no conductor. An orchestra fully in tune with the composer and his intensions. Haitink never lets his ego stand between Brahms and himself, this is music making on a level that has the composer and no one but the composer in sight.

The sound of LSO is full and warm and Haitink directs from the heart. I will not go into detail, simply because Brahms is presented so naturally. If you are a young listener you might want a bit more temperament, a bit more aggression. You might even become a bit impatient here. But this is as full blooded and as passionate a Brahms performance you are likely to hear..and it is so incredibly lovely. No agogic distorsions, just a natural flow.

The Serenade is wonderful, but I do wish that LSO-Live would record the first Serenade as well. Haitink´s old version from Concertgebouw is still the finest of this marvellous piece.

The sound is full and warm. Brahms orchestration is always a bit close no matter the accoustics. I don´t think he thought about Hi-Fi!!! But this is Hi-Fi, musically as well as sound-wise.

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Review by Chris May 13, 2005 (5 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
This SACD from LSO Live ,as "nickc",rightly pointed out in his review, is a bit of a mixed bag.
The Serenade is better recorded than the Symphony,different balance engineers.

But on the other hand I find the Serenade a rather boring exercise piece that I won't listen to very often.
The third Symphony on the other hand, although a bit rough here and there,contains some of the most sophisticated music in all of Brahm's works with the heavenly beautiful melody in the third movement, Poco allegretto.

Unlike nickc, I don't find that much fault with Hatink's reading.I compared it to my 62 Karajan the 77 remake on Lps and Jochum's on EMI.All of which are recorded in much more reverberant acoustics.
There is a lot more air and bloom on the LPs,than on this SACD.

And that brings us to the real problem with this disc I think.If you want sweet strings and glorious sound look elsewhere.

The symphony begins rather awkwardly and searchingly with both wind and string sound that is anything but flattering to the LSO.

I heard this work live only a couple of weeks ago in the Estonia Hall in Tallin and was pretty disappointed at the rough, thin and scrawny sound,recorded here,compared to the lovely warmth and clarity I heard live.

Luckily, things improve and once things get going the reading gets quite enjoyable and the dryish recording actually lets you hear things obscured on many other recordings,if you can accept the thin string sound.
In fact I think that the main reason the Serenade sounds better than the symphony is that its scored without violins!

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Works: 2  

Johannes Brahms - Serenade No. 2 in A major, Op. 16
Johannes Brahms - Symphony No. 3 in F major, Op. 90