It¿s weighty, of course: you expect that with Thielemann, the most grandiose of current German conductors. But this live account of Brahms¿s First Symphony with the Munich Philharmonic is never so weighty that you can¿t lift it. There¿s plenty of brooding tension, and Thielemann¿s sometimes leisurely speeds leave neither the work nor the musicians adrift. The filler, Beethoven¿s Egmont Overture, offers similar heft and passion.
The first thing that strikes you with Christian Thielemann's interpretation of Brahms's First Symphony is the flexibility he brings to tempos. This is a style of playing that goes back to that of his idol, Furtwängler, where the speed of a given phrase was more attuned to its expressive purpose than to the rigours of a metronome marking. But the performance proves that, even in a world changed for ever by the period-instrument movement, there is a place for this grandiose and assertive kind of music-making . . . The Beethoven Egmont is no mere filler, but an interpretation of equal persuasiveness. The slightly old-fashioned nature of these performances is emphasised by the plush timbre of the Munich Philharmonic, here in this well balanced live recording sounding on a par with the great orchestras of Berlin and Vienna.
The first thing that strikes you with Christian Thielmann¿s interpretation of Brahms¿s First Symphony is the flexibility he brings to the tempos. This is a style of playing that goes back to that of his idol, Furtwängler, where the speed of a given phrase was more attuned to its expressive purpose than to the rigours of a metronome marking. But the performance proves that, even in world changed for ever by the period-instrument, there is a place for this grandiose and assertive kind of music-making . . . The Beethoven ¿Egmont¿ is no mere filler, but an interpretation of equal persuasiveness. The slightly old-fashioned nature of these performances is emphasised by the plush timbre of the Munich Philharmonic, here in this well balanced live recording sounding on a par with the great orchestras of Berlin and Vienna.
Thielemann clearly has a firm hand on the structural tiller . . . never allowing the music to overheat even when it generates the greatest excitement in the fiery transition into the recapitulation . . . Thielemann is at his finest, capturing perfectly the sense (as in virtually all of Brahms's shorter structures) of the music being highly compressed, of possessing a structural density tantalizingly at odds with its intermezzo-like surface. Yet it is during the finale that one begins to really appreciate how finely Thielemann has paced the performance as a whole . . . Thielemann immediately characterizes the forces of good and evil with massive brass and string chords against soothing, plaintive cries from the woodwind. This is followed by storm-swept Allegro section, a gloomy landscape startlingly illuminated by nerve-shredding forks of musical lightning. Here Thielemann positively encourages the orchestra to have its collective head in a way that he seemed determined not to in the symphony.
Christian Thielemann gives us something slightly out of the ordinary in this coupling . . . His "Egmont" is not only expertly paced . . . but more especially he opens the work with a solidity and warmth of tone, and a rhythmic precision that avoids any temptation to rush the final movements. The real originality comes in Thielemann¿s Brahms -- a strangely consolidatory approach that combines old-style majesty with the slicker definition of many recent interpreters. He takes liberties with Brahms¿s own indications, but does so with some justification. Well worth consideration.
. . . the Munich Philharmonic in June 2005 will delight his many admirers as much as it is likely to infuriate others. These are opulently recorded, involving performances. In such familiar repertoire it's enormously gratifying to find a conductor who refuses to take the music for granted. Every bar is carefully nuance, the orchestra responding quite splendidly in a powerfully driven account of Beethoven's "Egmont"-Overture. The Brahms is unashamedly Romantic with a highly menacing introduction in which the strings are perhaps too forwardly placed in relation to the wind. It's entirely typical of Thielemann that there is a considerable degree of tempo fluctuation between the first and second ideas in the first movement, although this predisposition never threatens to destabilise the organic cohesion of the musical argument.
Thielemann carves soft folds into Brahms¿s marble, without compromising its monolithic appeal. There is love in his baton and restraint in his crescendo.
The recording is superb.
. . . this live 2005 performance by the Munich Philharmonic, conducted by Christian Thielemann, is an exciting addition to the catalog . . .The dynamic Mr. Thielemann, 48, a self-proclaimed bearer of the Austro-German musical heritage, seems fully committed to the orchestra. This recording, which includes an electrifying account of Beethoven's "Egmont" Overture, bodes well for his tenure. Mr. Thielemann is a technically resourceful maestro who has worked with notable success at the Bayreuth Festival, the Metropolitan Opera and elsewhere. Under his guidance, the Munich Philharmonic sounds terrific. The playing is vibrant, secure and sonorous. A hallmark of Mr. Thielemann's work is his keen awareness of the musical rhetoric in sprawling scores like the Brahms First. The layout of the phrases comes through with striking clarity. It is always apparent whether inner voices and sustained harmonies are meant to support, engage or combat other elements. The symphony seems at once more lucid than in many performances yet volatile, menacing and triumphant, because Brahms's bold strokes are rendered with such incisiveness.
Christian Thielemann unleashes a fiercely romantic interpretation . . . The storm and fury of the first movement, the lyricism of the second, the grace of the third . . . and the grandeur of the finale, with its unforgettable melody, are given new life here in a performance that also testifies to the high quality of this orchestra under his stewardship.
Christian Thielemann is that rarest of conductors, a musician with the ability to make even the most familiar works appear newly minted and imbued with fresh drama and visceral impact. The German conductor is at his finest in music of his compatriots, as eloquently demonstrated with these fiery and commanding live performances of Beethoven and Brahms . . . there's nothing routine about this performance. Thielemann directs the Munich players in a reading of massive weight and breadth yet one that is also spacious and searching with great delicacy in the winds. Not a single bar sounds routine, with a blazing urgency, the coda taken at a crackling speed. That same rich sonority, muscle and taut drama characterize the Brahms symphony that follows. The pounding timpani are nerve jangling in the opening bars, yet as tense and emphatic as this performance is, everything sounds natural and unfolds fluidly with great conviction. The Munich strings display great richness in the Andante and there's a wonderfully bucolic feel to the woodwind solos, the lyricism luxuriant without schmaltz. A lithe yet mercurial scherzo leads to a terrific finale with great tension and anticipation before the famous horn theme steals in, and tremendous punch to the closing bars. There has been a wealth of excellent Brahms recordings in recent months and Thielemann's exciting new disc is among the finest.
. . . the recording is excellent.
Hinsichtlich Balance, Klangphantasie, flexibler Tempi, auch kunstvoller Übergänge braucht Thielemann kaum irgendeinen Vergleich zu fürchten. Darüber hinaus steht ihm die Schwere und Homogeneität des ¿deutschen Klangs¿ wie wenigen zu Gebote . . . Thielemanns Vorzüge [kommen ]zur Geltung. Die Geschmeidigkeit der Phrasierung ist besonders zu rühmen. Die Ritardandi/Accelerandi scheinen manchmal verwegen, doch wohlkalkuliert. Klangliche Schwere und Transparenz gehen eine glückliche Verbindung ein. Zumal die Bläser kommen in seltener Plastizität zu Gehör, das Misterioso gerät überaus suggestiv. Die Münchner Philharmoniker schließlich zeigen sich gut disponiert, auch die Leistung der Ingenieure (Deutsche Grammophon) verdient unseren Respekt: Münchens vielgeschmähte Philharmonie hat selten runder, natürlicher geklungen.
. . . es [gibt] wenige Künstler, deren Neuerscheinungen man mit dem größten Interesse hört. Christian Thielemann etwa . . . Hier wird wieder das expressive Fließenlassen des Tempos geübt, hier darf sich auch einmal des Schönklangs wegen eine Phrase beinah über Gebühr verzögern. Fortsetzung erwünscht . . . Es würde sich lohnen.
Reichhaltig die gut ausbalancierten Farbvaleurs, penibel gefeilt auch die rhythmischen Details, jede Nebenstimme tritt klar hervor.
Kein Zweifel, bei Brahms ist Christian Thielemann sozusagen zu Hause. Das ist Musik, die diesem spätromantischen Espressivo-Musiker liegt, und er zeigt das auch unverhohlen -- mit einem gefühlsintensiven Ritardando bei fast allen Übergängen. Der Gestus dieses Musizierens wirkt breitspurig, und das darf durchaus sein, zumal Thielemanns Interpretation Kraft, Saft und Biss hat.
Im Wettstreit um den deutschesten Orchesterklang hat sich Christian Thielemann mit seinen Münchner Philharmonikern weit vom Verfolgerfeld abgesetzt -- mit einer bewegenden . . . Aufnahme.
. . . auf dem jetzt vorliegenden Live-Mitschnitt überzeugen die Münchner Philharmoniker . . . mit kultiviertem . . . sehr homogenem Orchesterspiel . . .