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  Avie Records -
  AV2051 (3 discs)
  Brahms: Complete Symphonies - Bychkov
  Brahms: Complete Symphonies

WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln
Semyon Bychkov (conductor)
Track listing:
  Classical - Orchestral
Recording type:
Recording info:

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Related titles: 5

Reviews: 3

Site review by Polly Nomial January 1, 2007
Performance:   Sonics:  
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Review by stvnharr November 13, 2005 (11 of 12 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
I really like this set of the Brahms symphonies. The sound and the playing remind me a whole lot of my favorite rbcd versions of these, Abbado/Berlin, early 90’s on DGG. The Avie recording engineers have done just a superb job with the orchestra sound. In each symphony the sound is wide and deep, with the strings sounding akin to that heard in a concert hall.
For some reason there really aren’t a lot of sacd comparisons to make for these symphonies. First and foremost I’ll go to the First symphony and the Naxos release. The opening minute is all that is needed for comparison. The Naxos is two dimensional with the tympani very loud and banging, sound coming from the center, and drowning out most of the strings. Once the rest of the movement gets going there is a sheen, or digital harshness, or something giving the overall sound an unnatural quality. And while I liked the performance, I never found the sound to improve over the awful beginning.
The Bychov First is none of the above. The opening is just wonderful. The tympani are in the rear, behind the first violins, with the strings in the foreground and sounding natural. The overall sound is very wide and three dimensional throughout. The tempo is perhaps a little slow, but I seemed to not really notice until I looked at the timing on the booklet.
I have both the Vonk/Pentatone and Jansons/RCO Seconds. I find all three versions to be quite good, both performance and sound wise.
I have both LSOLive discs of the Third and the Fourth, and though I do like them, the sound on the Avie is preferable to the LSO, and that also makes the performance a bit preferable to me as well.
This is a really nice set, well worth it’s purchase.

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Review by audio-grubi February 20, 2005 (9 of 12 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
The present reception by balance engineer Christoph Gronarz and digital editor Walter Platte of the WDR (West German broadcasting, Cologne) possesses a full and pleasantly “warm” sound with simultaneously good three-dimensional illustration of the recording room (Cologne philharmonic).

In the direct comparison to the reception of the first symphony in C minor, op. 68 by Marin Alsop and the LPO (NAXOS 6.110077 [SACD], 5.110077 [DVD-Audio]) the somewhat higher sweep-noise is noticeable however. Still the recording sounds somewhat more “brightly” and, in my opinion, the strings especially sound somewhat more "nervous", than in the NAXOS recording made by Tim Handley (producer and engineer).
The individual orchestra-parts are more clearly to be hear in the recording by Marin Alsop and the LPO and the strings sound here wonderfully relaxed and pleasantly "silky".
One note once the kettledrum at the beginning, that clearly and exactly comes in Marin Alsops reception from the middle of the orchestra and practically exclusively loud and clear from the center speaker while it sounds in the reception by Semyon Bychkov essentially less clearly and loudly and it’s not to locate as exactly as in the NAXOS recording.

Marin Alsops chosen tempi are somewhat faster and her interpretation altogether somewhat more lively and exciting in my opinion, than those of Semyon Bychkov.
Possibly, this is the influence of her former teacher Leonard Bernstein to owe.
I guess Brahms' symphonies need such a more powerful interpretation.

The also very nimbly and with temper interpreted both overtures are welcome encores and reminds me strongly at the interpretations by Leoanard Bernstein and James Levine.

Altogether, I prefer the recording and interpretation of the first symphony by Marin Alsop and the LPO in comparison to that by Semyon Bychkov and the WDR symphony-orchestra Cologne.

But I prefer the reception of the third symphony in F major, op. 90 by Semyon Bychkov to that by Bernhard Haitink and the LSO (LSO Live, LSO 0544) however. The softer and less direct sound pleases much more to me, than that “dry” illustration in the LSO live-reception.
Also the spatial illustration suffers, because in the LSO Live recording the dimensions are not assessable to me. Possibly also a consequence of the relinquishment of the use of the center speaker in this reception (like in all LSO Live recordings which I posses).

Respecting the interpretive-differences between both receptions, I notice the somewhat faster tempi by Semyom Bychkov in the “allegro con brio” (Bychkov: 13’00’’, Haitink: 14’24’’).

I have not listen the interpretation of the Symphony No.4 by Bernard Haitink and the LSO (LSO0547) until yet.

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Works: 4  

Johannes Brahms - Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 68
Johannes Brahms - Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 73
Johannes Brahms - Symphony No. 3 in F major, Op. 90
Johannes Brahms - Symphony No. 4 in E minor, Op. 98