For the casual listener, there are two impediments to enjoying this disc. First, the works are transcriptions of orchestral works for chamber ensembles, and second, both transcriptions are played on a light-toned fortepiano and cat-gutted stringed instruments. But for the dedicated listener who knows and loves Beethoven's Symphony No. 2 and Piano Concerto No. 4 and who accepts and enjoys period instruments, this disc will be pure enjoyment.
“Abbado’s approach to Brahms is generally direct, but his control of rhythm and phrase makes the performance instantly compelling” – The Penguin Guide to Compact Discs
Superbly crafted and convincingly modern, though imbued with an expressivity most modern composers would have abjured, the Fourth and Fifth symphonies of English composer Richard Arnell arguably deserve to be heard as often as the symphonies of his contemporaries Alwyn and Arnold. In this superlative coupling of his Fourth Symphony from 1948 and his Fifth Symphony from 1957, Arnell emerges as a cogent composer ……..James Leonard @ AllMusic
It's intriguing to compare this recording of Brahms' first two symphonies by Vladimir Jurowski and the London Philharmonic Orchestra from 2008 with recordings of the same works and the same orchestra by Wolfgang Sawallisch in the 1980s, Eugen Jochum in the 1970s, and Adrian Boult in the 1960s. Jurowski's tempos are generally much quicker, his textures much leaner, and his attacks much more incisive than any of the earlier recordings.
Longtime fans of reclusive Romanian pianist Radu Lupu will no doubt already know his handful of recordings of Brahms' piano music made in the '70s and early '80s for Decca – his recklessly imperious F minor Sonata, romantically dramatic D minor Concerto, inwardly brooding D minor Variations, and richly autumnal late rhapsodies, ballades, and intermezzos. But fans of Brahms' piano music who don't already know Lupu's recordings will be overwhelmed by what they'd heretofore missed. Lupu's full, round tone, his effortless virtuosity, his poetic intensity, and his soulful expressivity combine in unified performances of consummate artistry.