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Park Avenue Chamber Symphony: Brahms Major Orchestral Works

- CD Reviews

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The Park Avenue Chamber Symphony
David Bernard, Conductor 2008

Brahms Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 68, 1862-76
Brahms Variations on a Theme by Haydn, Op. 56a, 1873
Brahms Symphony No. 3 in F major, Op. 90, 1883
Brahms Concerto in A minor for Violin and Violincello, Op. 102, 1887
Brittany Sklar, Violin
Neena Deb-Sen, Violincello

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
January 2, 2009

This 2-Disk CD set is a live recording of three orchestral works by Johannes Brahms that were recorded on May 3, 2008 at All Saints Church in NYC and one more Brahms orchestral work (Symphony No. 1) that was recorded on October 21, 2006, also at All Saints Church. Symphony No. 1 has four movements: Un poco sostenuto – Allegro; Andante sostenuto; Un poco allegretto e grazioso; Adagio – Più andante – Allegro non troppo, ma con brio. Variations on a Theme by Haydn is composed in one movement. Symphony No. 3 is composed in four movements: Allegro con brio; Andante; Poco allegretto; Allegro. The Concerto I A minor for Violin and Violincello is composed in three movements: Allegro; Andante; Vivace non troppo.

Notable tracks:

Disk #1

#2 – Andante sostenutoSymphony No. 1, Second Movement. There is an intrinsic emotionality and pleading in this elegant and elongated movement, which runs about nine minutes. The strings carry dramatic passages between horn solos, and a violin solo exquisitely propels the final thematic variation.

#5 – Variations on a Theme by Haydn – This ten-movement work, in nineteen minutes plus, has a structured austerity, but a romantic urgency throughout. The tempo and resonance of this work seems unified throughout the piece, as all ten “variations” are evenly imbued. David Bernard keeps his Chamber Symphony crisp and tonally coordinated.

Disk #2

#3 – Poco allegrettoSymphony No. 3, Third Movement. I have always loved this movement for its heart-rending, echoing theme. The strings are rapturous, and clarinets and oboes abound. Although this is the briefest track on the disk, it expresses searing strength.

#5 – AllegroConcerto in A minor for Violin and Violincello, First Movement. Early in this first movement, the cello appears in a soulful, clear solo, showcased for the artist, in this case, Nina Deb-Sen. At once, the solo violinist appears, here Brittany Sklar, and they are a surprising, sensational duo. When the Chamber Symphony is showcased here, it’s as support for the two soloists, who have intense, edgy, and vigorous leads, often overlaying and re-playing one solo after the other. David Bernard has mastered the challenges of this sixteen-minute plus, introductory movement..

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For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at