Review By ,Musica,September 2005
Review By ,Fanfare,July 2005
Review By ,Classic Voice,July 2005
Review By ,Scherzo,June 2005
Review By Wynne Delacoma,Chicago Sun-Times,May 2005
American-born conductor Marin Alsop has been a rising star for some years now, and this recording of the Symphony No. 1 and two major overtures by Brahms will speed her trajectory. Alsop has recorded several discs with various orchestras for Naxos, most of them works by American composers. At a time when record labels are cutting back on new classical issues and retail bins are stuffed with dozens of recordings of standard repertoire, Naxos' plan to record all four Brahms symphonies with Alsop is a bold step.
But the feisty little Naxos label has built its substantial reputation defying convention, and judging from this first disc in the Brahms series, their gamble with Alsop will pay off. There is a buoyancy and organic flow to the symphony and overtures on this disc that
Review By ,Record Geijutsu,May 2005
Review By Eric E. Harrison,Arkansas Democrat-Gazette,April 2005
Marin Alsop, possibly the fastest-rising American conductor on the music scene today, takes on one of the titans of the symphonic literature, Johannes Brahms� Symphony No. 1 in c minor, op.68, with one of the world�s most recorded orchestras.
Sir Charles Mackerras, in his ground-breaking 1997 Brahms symphony cycle with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra on Telarc, judiciously juggled his tempos, including liberal use of rubato, for dramatic effect.
Alsop does the same in this recording. It strengthens the reading of the first three movements, particularly the very dramatic first one. The slow first theme of the fourth movement, including the well-known alphorn solo (actually played in this recording on an alphorn, not a French horn), is powerful and evocative.
Review By R.M Campbell,Seattle Post-Intellegencer,April 2005
Marin Alsop, one of a handful of women conductors with a viable career on the podium, makes her Seattle Symphony debut April 21, in a program of Tchaikovsky and Dvorak. However, Brahms is the subject on her newest recording for Naxos: Symphony No. 1 plus a brace of overtures -- "Tragic" and "Academic Festival."
There is much to admire in her reading of Brahms' First. She is unafraid of slow tempos -- that gorgeous chorale in the final movement, for instance -- and she is not fearful of refusing to exhibit muscle at every turn of the road.
There is a sense of organic growth, carefully judged dynamics and a handsome roundness to some of Brahms' familiar tunes. Alsop brings fresh ideas to overworked terrain.
Review By ,Classical Net,March 2005
This is an audio-only DVD that launches a cycle of Brahms symphonies by the American Marin Alsop, principal conductor of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra since 2002. I hate to bring gender into any review, but I must
say that this talented artist will likely become the first woman appointed music director of one of the big-five American orchestras. Either that, or she will take over the reins of a major European ensemble. Mark my words.
She knows the three essential things a superior conductor must know: how to capture the spirit and essence of the work in her mind, how to draw fine playing from her musicians, and how to mold that playing to fit her vision of the work.
slower renditions of the work, and though I prefer faster tempos in general (not only here but in more....
Review By Bill Brooks,Naxos,March 2005
As is common with lesser-known conductors, Marin Alsop is mostly known for her interpretations of more modern fare, but her excellent readings of Brahms may be the breakout that earns her the recognition she deserves. Her interpretation of the Brahms Symphony No. 1 on Naxos is reminiscent of the Mackerras performance released on Telarc about eight years ago. Finesse is everything when conducting the masters, and Alsop has it. The tempos have a clean, natural flow that allow the drama of the piece to have real impact without caramelizing it. The orchestra plays skillfully, and there are some brilliant solos, including a gorgeous flute passage shortly into the fourth movement.
Review By Jerry Dubins,Fanfare,March 2005
Alsop takes the first movement exposition repeat, more the exception in recordings of this symphony than you might think. She also understands that Brahms's symphonic argument is carried out, not just on the macro-level of sonata-allegro form (i.e., contrasting keys and themes), but on the micro-level of conflicting rhythms that reach an apocalyptic crisis in the recapitulation. Everything in her reading builds inexorably to that moment. I have the feeling in listening to this performance that I am hearing the piece architecturally; that Alsop has a vision of the work as a whole, focusing on the necessities of the structure, but without sacrificing the niceties of the measure-by-measure phrases. Stated another way, she sees the big picture.
Nor can it go unnoticed that Alsop
Review By Bernard Holland,The New York Times,March 2005
To succeed on a grand scale in the United States, American conductors often need to pave their way in Europe. Marin Alsop is among the latest to find a good job abroad. Her career in America has been honorable, steady and various: anchored by a long tenure at the Colorado Symphony (not the most stable institution in recent years) and by visits to places like the Opera Theater of St. Louis, where she conducted John Adams's "Nixon in China" with great success last year.
But it has been in Britain, during the last few years, that Ms. Alsop has attracted attention. The Bournemouth Symphony took her on as principal conductor in 2002, and British audiences and critics have taken notice ever since. Here she records the Brahms First Symphony with the London Philharmonic for
Review By Leslie Gerber,Amazon.com,March 2005
Naxos is obviously excited about this recording, publicizing it widely and issuing it in three different formats (this plain CD, as well as SACD and DVD Audio). You can understand the excitement immediately, as the Symphony opens with tremendous power, fortified by uncommon energy in the kettledrums, signifying that there's going to be no routine playing here. But Alsop is not all aggression; her Andante sostenuto is very tender and affecting. Detail work is just wonderful--listen, for example, to the gorgeous flute solo in the fourth movement introduction--and Brahms's syncopations, always a major aspect of his style, get their full due in this rhythmically alert performance. Both Overtures are vividly characterized, and the Academic Festival retains its humor more than usual. At
Review By Sefton Wiggs,New Bern (North Carolina) Sun Journal,March 2005
Conductor Marin Alsop has begun her cycle of the four Brahms symphonies and other orchestral works with the London Philharmonic Orchestra in stirring fashion. I found myself intrigued with Alsop�s vision, beginning with the pounding timpani beneath the serious sounding strings that begin the work to the great finale and its tribute to Beethoven in form of a thinly disguised �Ode to Joy.�
The massive first movement turns to a gentle �Andante sostenuto� for the second. Alsop handles this section � which under the direction of a lesser conductor could have gotten lost after the first � with sensitivity and care. The important oboe parts are striking, and the violin that closes the section is just beautiful. Brahms didn�t go for the usual scherzo (Italian for �joke�) in the more....
Review By Andrew Baer,Naxos,March 2005
With her debut Brahms CD, Marin Alsop offers a sumptuously lyrical rendition of the composer's First Symphony and two overtures. Principal conductor of the Bournemouth Symphony, lauded American music proponent and a famous Leonard Bernstein prot�g�e, Alsop blends Romantic symphonic convention with the organic phrasing and transitions of a chamber musician. She summons a bright, singing sound from the London Philharmonic, and each gesture flows, yoga-like, into the next. Sturdy enough to serve as a Brahms primer, this rendition of the symphony can feel a little sensitive in slow spots for fans of Golden Age maestros. Relief exists in imposing accounts of the "Academic Festival" and "Tragic" overtures.
Review By Andrew Druckenbrod,Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,March 2005
If you want another crack at listening to or deciphering the subtext of Brahms' Symphony No. 1 after the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra's performance under Charles Dutoit last weekend (see my review, www.post-gazette.com/pg/05066/467392.stm), here's a worthy new addition.
Conductor Marin Alsop and the London Phil offer a fresh, rounded and energetic reading of this monumental work. The opening introduction sounds the equivalent of looking into a cloudy crystal ball -- unclear yet definitely foreboding -- but Alsop marvelously caresses the second theme. In fact, the entire reading harbors less of an edge than we often hear, but is no less weighty. That's because the substance the architect Brahms' comes from, managing the tempos and the structural hypermeter of the piece, which more....
Review By Bradley Bambarger,Newark Star-Ledger,February 2005
Today's most successful female conductor, Marin Alsop completed a transformative decade at the head of the Colorado Symphony and has led the U.K.'s Bournemouth Symphony since 2002, with several Naxos discs to her credit. Recordings of Brahms led by women are exceedingly uncommon, so this first step in a complete symphonic cycle is a special opportunity.
Alsop's approach to the First Symphony is suitably dramatic, with gutsy playing by the London Philharmonic -- in surround sound (with the title available in CD, hybrid Super Audio CD and DVD-Audio)...
...Alsop outscores such rivals as Bernard Haitink in the "Tragic" Overture by keeping the drama on an ultra-taut rein. Overall, this disc bodes well for her enterprise.
Review By C. Michael Bailey,All About Jazz,February 2005
It must be with interest and anticipation that we hear the first installment of Marin Alsop�s Brahms Symphony Cycle . . . Impossible as it may seem, maestro Alsop delivers a Brahms First that is light on its feet. Her tempi are paced and never bog-down or become overbearing. She takes seriously the movement signatures, turning in a closing movement that breathes evenly while passing from adagio to allegro. This is a Brahms First with a sense of humor, one that will not disappoint the listener but one that will allow the listener to embrace Brahms�s reverence for the tradition of Beethoven while at the same time smiling at the serious German with a �horrible dignity.�
Review By Melinda Bargreen,Seattle Times,March 2005
Cello fans will already have marked their calendars for the April 21-23 arrival of the gifted Truls M�rk in Benaroya Hall.
But there is another reason to cheer. Conductor Marin Alsop, a woman who is making her mark in increasingly high places, will be there to lead the cellist and the Seattle Symphony in performances of Dvorak and Tchaikovsky.
On this disc for the Naxos label, where she has been much featured, Alsop leads the excellent London Philharmonic Orchestra in a disc of Brahms: the magisterial Symphony No. 1, plus the "Tragic" Overture and the "Academic Festival" Overture. These are deft, spirited performances that bring out the grandeur of the music but also its complexities and inner voices. Brava.
Review By Randy Anderson,Naxos,February 2005
This disc is the first in a projected series of Naxos releases that will feature the excellent Brahms interpreter Marin Alsop conducting the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Beginning, appropriately enough, with Brahm's first symphony (along with a couple of nice makeweight pieces), Alsop makes her intentions clear: a robust but not overbearing interpretation that never sacrifices elegance for bombast.
Review By Robert Baxter,CourierPostOnline.com,February 2005
Marin Alsop has left her mark on a string of releases in Naxos� American music series. Now, she has the chance to shine in the German repertory as Naxos launches a series of Brahms recordings with Symphony No. 1 (8.557428 ***) performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra.
Alsop leads a lithe and gracefully pliant reading. She finds the musical pulse and clarifies the various instrumental strands in this well-recorded version of the familiar symphony.
Alsop draws secure playing from the orchestra and propels the symphony to a suavely judged climax. Her lyrical approach lacks the granitic scale of Otto Klemperer's version or the epic sweep that characterizes Herbert von Karajan�s recording. Yet, it offers a lyrical alternative notable for its interpretive restraint.
Review By Scott Paulin,Barnes & Noble,February 2005
Thanks to her busy recording schedule with Naxos, most music lovers would probably identify conductor Marin Alsop as an American specialist. Her valuable multi-disc survey of Samuel Barber's works is now almost complete, and her discography also includes excellent recordings of Leonard Bernstein, Philip Glass, Michael Daughtery, and John Adams. But Alsop resists being pigeonholed�back in 2000, in an interview with Barnes & Noble.com, she asserted that she was "very anxious to be the first woman to record all the standard repertoire." Judging from this release, the first in a cycle of the Brahms symphonies, we'll all be the richer as she does so. Brahms's First is one of those repertory works that we tend to take for granted, a reliably satisfying symphonic meal. Alsop's approach
Review By Stephanie von Buchau,Bay Area Reporter,February 2005
This is anenergetic, meticulously organized and generously expansive album, with the "Tragic" and "Academic" overtures added to the Symphony...
...well recorded; beautifully played; handsome new cover art. And still at a bargain price. The rest of the Brahms Symphonies with Alsop and the LPO follow shortly.
Review By ,International Record Review,March 2005
Review By Patrick C. Waller,MusicWeb International,January 2005
This is the first release in a complete series of Brahms symphonies to be conducted by Marin Alsop. So far, her recordings seem to have mostly concentrated on music from her native America (for example, the excellent Barber series for Naxos) but here she tackles the mainstream central European tradition, and there is an awful lot of competition.
I can hear some people yawning already and others saying that we don�t need more recordings of Brahms symphonies. Well, there�s no doubt that this is going to have to be "top-notch" to be competitive. Even the usual price advantage with Naxos is missing�Brahms from the greats of the past is available cheaply (as two or three disc sets) and Bernard Haitink�s highly recommendable series for LSO Live is about to be completed with
Review By David Hurwitz,ClassicsToday.com,January 2005
Okay, we all know that at this point no one needs a new Brahms cycle, but this first installment has one thing going for it: Marin Alsop appears to be an excellent Brahms conductor. She begins the First Symphony with an imposing introduction that would have made Klemperer sit up and take notice: it's that grand and imposing. Happily, she also launches the allegro (exposition repeat retained) with genuine thrust and energy, while her generous rubato as she relaxes into the second subject is effortlessly managed--and she builds to the recapitulation with plenty of excitement and rhythmic tension. This is the genuine article, make no mistake. The slow movement reveals the same beautifully controlled transitions, the tempo nicely flowing, marred only by an insensitive solo violin,
Review By Marc Shulgold,Rocky Mountain News,January 2005
As mentioned, Alsop has emerged as one of Naxos' marquee names�an obvious fact, considering that her face adorns the outer sleeve and the cover of the booklet in this first issue in her Brahms cycle. That's a major break from the label's fondness for pretty paintings of country scenes. But the music is what matters. And here Alsop and the brilliant LPO bring a grandness to Brahms (featuring, we should note, an alphorn solo from the Colorado Symphony's Michael Thornton). The disc also includes stirring renditions of the two Brahms overtures, all serving as a nice memento from Alsop's recent Brahms cycle here with the CSO.
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