Johannes Brahms
Sinfonic Music
Release Date

Christoph Eschenbach goes into raptures when he speaks about recording Brahms with his Konzerthaus Orchestra Berlin:” They were the ideal partner for the Brahms cycle! A lot of ideas, which I was happy to incorporate into my overall concept, derived from the musicians themselves. And they in turn were interested in my approach.” Eschenbach sees the musicians of the orchestra as the perfect counterpart to his love of Brahms. “The Konzerthaus Orchestra has fabulous soloists, especially in the woodwinds and the horn department. Furthermore, their string sound is very ‘Brahmsian’. We very quickly came to an agreement as to how Brahms should sound.”

Christoph Eschenbach, a conductor and pianist who is active on the world stage, is famous for the diversity of his repertoire and for the profundity of his interpretations. He is a tireless promoter and nurturer of young musical talent, a recipient of high musical awards, and since the beginning of the 2019/20 season has been Principal Conductor of the Konzerthaus Orchestra Berlin. After taking the post of conductor with the Houston Symphony Orchestra in 1988 he recorded all the Brahms symphonies. “Nothing has radically changed in my perspective since then. Some details have undergone development, along with progress on a psychological level and, connected with that, a renewed approach to the colouring and how I tease those colours out of the score. That said, this is not a fundamentally new view of Brahms. At my ‘advanced’ age, I am just happy to be able to further develop things when I concentrate intensively on a piece of music.”

While symphonies 1 and 3 were performed to a sold-out house, numbers 2 and 4 had to be recorded in an empty concert hall due to the pandemic. “As a result of the social distancing rules, we extended the stage into the auditorium. Even when it is empty, the hall has an ideal acoustic. The sound engineers were easily able to compensate and as a result, there is no great contrast between the live recordings and the ones made under studio conditions.”

The quality of the collaboration was perceptible among the ensemble members in the concert hall built by Karl Friedrich Schinkel on Berlin’s Gendarmenmarkt: “Christoph Eschenbach has given Brahms a considerable amount of thought and yet he still has a strongly intuitive link to him, a ‘gut feeling’ if you like. The freedom he gives us holds the seeds of something incredibly compelling,” attests solo clarinettist Prof. Ralf Forster, “a magnetism that one cannot resist.”


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