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The music of Johannes Brahms is central repertoire for every symphonic ensemble, and it was certainly central repertoire for Charles Munch. During his years as violinist and orchestral player in Germany, he must have played the entire Brahms canon, and the First Symphony was on the programme of his first Paris concert as a conductor in 1932 – the event that launched his glorious new career on the podium. The statistics for Munch’s performances of the Brahms Symphonies are impressive.
The performances on this programme come from late in Munch’s Boston tenure; he had just turned seventy when the First Symphony was telecast. His health had long been a problem, but once on the podium his focus, energy and stamina were remarkable. In every shot of the conductor, we can see what pleasure he took in the music itself. In steeplechase moments, like the trio of Second Symphony’s scherzo, his delight in the music and the joy he felt in conducting it are fully visible.
Johannes Brahms, Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 68
1. Un poco sostenuto – Allegro
2. Andante sostenuto
3. Un poco allegretto e grazioso
4. Adagio – Allegro non troppo, ma con brio
Johannes Brahms, Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 73
1. Allegro non troppo
2. Adagio non troppo
3. Allegretto grazioso (Quasi andantino)
4. Allegro con spirito
Venue: Sanders Theatre, Harvard University (Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA)
Production date: 1961
Recording date: 1960, 1961
Duration: 1 h 25 min
Production: © Boston Symphony Orchestra & WGBH Educational Foundation under exclusive licence to International Classical Artists Ltd