Bamberg Symphony Orchestra/Horst
KOCH CLASSICS 3-1640-2
On the face of it, not a very competitive set. Four discs, albeit at mid-price,
one symphony per CD, no repeats, and no Brahmsian fillers in the form of
the two overtures or St Anthony Variations. Despite this retail disadvantage,
Horst Stein and his band have assembled a notable set.
These live performances recorded in July and September 1997 enjoy good sound
which is well-balanced and naturally coloured. Stein's Bambergers are cultured
musicians who know this music intimately and play with warmth of tone and
unaffected expression. Stein himself presents readings that belong to the
Klemperer and Kurt Sanderling school of conducting this music. Stein's tempi
are consistently moderate but never droopy. He is a patient unfolder of Brahms's
structures and musical arguments, and compels attention through his
undemonstrative control and innate understanding of the music.
Stein's not one to rest his laurels on a sumptuous sound; instead he finds
instrumental details in the undergrowth that often go unheard. Structurally,
he always appreciates where the music is going and has an uncanny knack of
knowing just when he needs to raise the emotional level. There's a thrilling
inevitability about Stein's readings. He exposes the music lucidly and is
consummately aware of nodal points.
These structurally cohesive, organic traversals of Brahms's Symphonies happily
marry instrumental incident and passionate statement. A deeply satisfying
set well worth investigating.