We love Brahms' gloriously-tragic Fourth symphony for its self-cannibalizing, E minor sorrow and although we try not to fall for its emo charms, it's our autumnal soundtrack of 3:00 pm twilights, burgundy-stained lips, white Alba truffles and minks fresh from cold storage.
Brahms' Fourth misery loves its company, and as much as we covet Rattle's kinetic splinters or Daniel Harding's swift-footed modernity to remind us of curious, new-skool Brahms, we often reach for Carlo Maria Giulini & the Wiener Philharmoniker (or the CSO) with its elastic energy, accessible soul and mercurial power.
This past weekend in Milan, Maestro John Axelrod tackled that ghastly-complex fourth in Giulini's melancholy shades with Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi, recorded live for Telarc, slated for a September release.
In a joint program of grand German, symphonic columns --
Beethoven's Fourth Symphony was pensive, pastoral and
almost bashful at times until that brilliant fourth movement roared down the
front gates -- the Brahms cycle was off to a prodigious start.
It's a beast to understand and a monster to conduct with its shape-shifting textures and rhythms, massive variations and codas but La Verdi gave it an earnest shot -- what it lacked in technique was made up with passion, exuberance and intensity.
The first movement began earnestly and melted into lovely strings tension led by concertmaster Luca Santaniello, which rounded into a richer, lusher second movement. The third movement bristled with jubliant, bright tempi before it slammed into the final, smoky fourth movement's intense undercurrents.
We'll be happy to have the souvenir disc in hand this fall and look forward to next month when Brahms' Second Symphony takes the stage