Wednesday, July 05, 2017
Johannes Brahms: Symphony No.1 in C minor – Orquesta Sinfónica de Galicia, Eliahu Inbal (HD 1080p)
The distinguished Israeli conductor Eliahu Inbal conducts Orquesta Sinfónica de Galicia in Johannes Brahms' First Symphony in C minor, Op.68. Recorded at the Palacio de la Ópera de A Coruña, on April 21, 2017.
In the year 1854, a 21-year-old Johannes Brahms heard Beethoven's Ninth Symphony for the first time and resolved to write one in the same key (D minor). The following year he wrote to his friend, violinist Joseph Joachim, "I have been trying my hand at a symphony during the past summer, have even orchestrated the first movement and have completed the second and third". The music of which he was speaking was indeed brought to completion, but not in its originally intended form. Dissatisfied with his unfinished symphony, Brahms recast the material into a sonata for two pianos. But destiny had yet other uses for this symphonically-conceived music, and the sonata's first two movements came to occupy those same positions in the dramatic First Piano Concerto – still in D minor – although the last movement found a quite different home as the Behold All Flesh section of his German Requiem.
No one helped Brahms to realize his own inner visions more than composer Robert Schumann and his pianist wife Clara. In 1854, a year after the young man's first meeting with the Schumanns, Robert wrote to their mutual friend Joachim: "But where is Johannes? Is he not yet ready to let drums and trumpets sound? He should always keep in mind the beginning of the Beethoven symphonies; he should try to make something like them". Schumann was never to realize the fruits of his advice, for he died tragically in an asylum in 1856. But his admonition to Brahms resulted, eventually, in the C minor First Symphony, for whose beginning and ending Brahms did indeed look to Beethoven.
An early (1862) version of the First Symphony's opening movement did not have the imposing introduction which later was appended, an introduction in which the composer reveals, at a slow pace, all the important materials we meet in rapid motion in the movement proper, the Allegro. (In the matter of thematic transformation, epitomized by the introductions to the Symphony's first and fourth movements as they presage their Allegros, Brahms was much closer to the methods of Liszt and Wagner than to those of Beethoven.) The throbbing intensity of the introduction (Brahms was ready to let the drums sound) gives way to a sober urgency that recalls the angry young Brahms of, say, the F minor Piano Sonata (1853). This movement and the fourth, are primers of the compositional methods Brahms practiced with utter mastery: motifs are transformed through changes of rhythm, dynamics, timbre; they are combined, fragmented, and developed with an unerring sense of their inherent possibilities. And it was not until this severely self-critical composer was satisfied with his work that he allowed the First Symphony to be performed, in 1876, some 20-plus years after he made his first symphony efforts.
The strength of Brahms' symphonic convictions is everywhere apparent, and his instinct for the scope and power of the form directly descended from Beethoven (of whose Fifth Symphony three-shorts-and-a-long rhythm Brahms was not loath to invoke repeatedly). The entire first movement is keenly dramatic, nowhere more so than in the extended, slowly building passage leading to the recapitulation. Here, Brahms' sense of dynamic expansion is definitive; this is as grand a symphonic movement as he ever conceived.
The two central movements present the other side of the Brahmsian coin: melting lyricism and soaring expressiveness in an Andante that closes with those rapturous violin solos that must have paved the way for his Violin Concerto; gentle Schubertian smiles through tears contrasted with sinewy boisterousness in an Allegretto that is Brahms' personalized version of a Beethoven scherzo.
The Finale's introduction, with fragments of the ensuing Allegro passing before our eyes, is more extended than the first movement's and evolves a fearsomeness bordering on terror. This dark emotional tone is finally pierced by a radiant horn call, and by a solemn chorale that speaks of deliverance and peace. Then, that theme begins which has been called Brahms' version of Beethoven's Ode to Joy theme in the Ninth Symphony. In its reappearances this grand melody is a source of deep comfort, and in its radical transformations a nucleus for the imposing grandeur that unfolds on the way to blazing, unrestrained triumph.
Orchestration: 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, contrabassoon, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, timpani, and strings.
Source: Orrin Howard (laphil.com)
Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)
♪ Symphony No.1 in C minor, Op.68 (1855-1876)
i. Un poco sostenuto [00:18]*
ii. Andante sostenuto [14:36]
iii. Un poco allegretto e grazioso [24:10]
iv. Adagio – Più andante – Allegro non troppo – Più allegro [29:23]
Orquesta Sinfónica de Galicia
Conductor: Eliahu Inbal
Palacio de la Ópera de A Coruña, April 21, 2017
* Start time of each movement
In Inbal, one can trace the clear traits of role models and teachers such as Franco Ferrara and Sergiu Celibidache; he possesses the strength for tranquillity and the sense to create unbridled passion and dramatic effect. — Die Welt
Since winning first prize in the Cantelli Conducting Competition at the age of 26, Eliahu Inbal has enjoyed an international career, conducting leading orchestras worldwide. Over the years, he has been appointed principal conductor of the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra (hr-Sinfonieorchester), Teatro La Fenice in Venice, RAI National Symphony Orchestra, Konzerthausorchester Berlin, Czech Philharmonic and the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra.
During his tenure with the hr-Sinfonieorchester (1974-1990), whose honorary conductor he remains today, Eliahu Inbal distinguished himself as an outstanding musical personality of our time. The charismatic Israeli conductor, who lives in Paris, received international acclaim for his interpretations of Mahler and Bruckner on a number of award-winning recordings (Deutscher Schallplattenpreis, Grand Prix du Disque) and was the first to record the original versions of Bruckner's Symphonies. He has received special recognition for his interpretations of Dmitri Shostakovich's Symphonies in particular.
2016 marks Eliahu Inbal's 80th birthday. Throughout the year, he features as a guest conductor with the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra (SWR) in Basel, Vienna and at the Spring Festival in Monte-Carlo, conducts Bruckner's Symphony No.9 with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France at the Philharmonie de Paris, Symphony No.4 at the Konzerthaus Berlin and the Alte Oper Frankfurt, and Symphony No.8 with the Orchestra del Teatro la Fenice. He also travels to Asia, where he is a frequent guest with the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra in his role as Conductor Laureate, on tour with the Konzerthausorchester Berlin, and to conduct the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra.
His operatic engagements have taken him to opera houses in Paris, Glyndebourne, Munich, Stuttgart, Zurich and Madrid, among others. He celebrated the 2013 Wagner anniversary year with highly acclaimed performances of Parsifal at the Vlaamse Opera and Tristan and Isolde at the Festival de Opera de A Coruña (International Opera Award 2014). Eliahu Inbal has been awarded the national Italian critic's prize Abbiati et Viotti for his exceptional interpretations of Wagner's Ring with the RAI National Symphony Orchestra. In February 2016 he returned to A Coruña to conduct a concert performance of Richard Strauss' Salome.
Eliahu Inbal's extensive discography includes the complete symphonic works of Berlioz, Brahms, Bruckner, Mahler, Ravel, Schumann, Shostakovich, Scriabin, Stravinsky, Richard Strauss, and the Second Viennese School. He has recorded these works with the hr-Sinfonieorchester as well as the Philharmonia Orchestra London, Orchestre National de France, Vienna Symphony, London Philharmonic, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande and the Czech Philharmonic. His performance of Mahler's Symphony No.10 (completed version by D. Cooke), part of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra's Mahler cycle, was also released on DVD.
Born in Israel, Eliahu Inbal studied violin and composition at the Jerusalem Music Academy before completing his studies at the Conservatoire National Supérieur in Paris on the recommendation of Leonard Bernstein. His teachers there included Louis Fourestier, Olivier Messiaen and Nadia Boulanger. He was also greatly influenced by Franco Ferrara in Hilversum (Netherlands) and Sergiu Celibidache in Siena (Italy). In 1990, the French government named Eliahu Inbal an officer of the Order of Arts and Letters. In February 2001 he was awarded the Golden Medal for Merit from the city of Vienna. He received the Goethe Badge of Honour from the City of Frankfurt and the Order of Merit from the Federal Republic of Germany in 2006.