MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around 2024
60,000 reviews
... and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             


Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

alternatively AmazonUK   AmazonUS



Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Symphony No. 4 in E minor, Op. 98 (1884-85) [41:48]
Hungarian Dances Nos. 2 and 4-9, WoO1 (1868) (orch. Peter Breiner) [22:51]
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Marin Alsop
rec. 21-22 March 2005, Blackheath Concert Hall, London, UK (Symphony); 22-23 April 2006, The Colosseum Town Hall, Watford, UK (Dances). DDD
NAXOS 8.570233 [64:39]

This recording of the Fourth completes Marin Alsop’s cycle of the Brahms symphonies for Naxos. Based on the quality of the other recordings, it was much anticipated and it does not disappoint. Alsop’s interpretation is mainstream, but individual enough to make it a very worthwhile purchase. Her overall timing is in the normal range. Carlos Kleiber’s celebrated account with the Vienna Philharmonic (DG) clocks in at 39:46, while Dohnányi with the Cleveland Orchestra (Warner) at 41:31 nearly matches Alsop. Her first movement is slightly faster than the norm and the second movement is somewhat slower. She brings out both the dramatic and autumnal aspects of the symphony very well, and the orchestra plays its heart out for her. The recorded sound is also very good with the sound of the strings well cushioned, even sumptuous. One of the highlights for me is the reprise of the second subject near the end of the Andante moderato (second movement) where the cellos are meltingly beautiful. On the other hand, the staccato triplets beginning in measure 36 [3:49-4:05 on the disc] are rather too deliberate and need more energy. The third movement scherzo is very light on its feet and all the better for it. Alsop brings out the drama well in the passacaglia finale, if without quite the urgency of Kleiber who is nigh unbeatable here. Overall, though, anyone collecting Alsop’s series of Brahms symphonies should be happy with this stunning performance. Along with Dohnányi’s recently reissued set of symphonies on Warner, hers is a top budget choice. 

To sweeten the pudding, the disc concludes with seven Hungarian Dances, which Naxos commissioned Peter Breiner to orchestrate. Brahms himself, it must be remembered, arranged only dances 1, 3, and 10 for orchestra. Dvořák orchestrated some of the later dances (Nos. 17-21), while the earlier ones received orchestral treatment from various hands. Here Breiner has come up with fresh orchestrations that demonstrate an imaginative use of percussion, brass, and winds as well as additional figures in the accompaniment in No. 4. His employment of piccolo in several of the dances recalls a similar instance by Brahms in the finale of his Serenade No. 2. Alsop and the London Philharmonic play these dances with great relish and end the disc in fine style. 

This last installment in Alsop’s Brahms series thus receives a firm recommendation.

Leslie Wright

see also Review by Dominy Clements



Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all Bridge reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing



Return to Review Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.