A remarkable, transparent purity can be heard in Brahms’s Second symphony. It is a sharp contrast to the huge arsenal of ideas collected in the First Symphony, which Brahms had worked on for many years. Here in his Second he shows us his masterful skill in developing large-scale architecture from the simplest motifs. To give the first of these to the horns is a logical choice; Brahms always used natural horns and resisted the more modern instruments. Horns can ideally explore the purest of all musical ideas: the journey through the overtones.Similar purity is present in all the themes. When at the start the basses step down a semitone and step back again, nobody could guess what a rich new world would develop from this cell. The last movement is also built on a simple tool: repeated, equal notes follow each other in regimental order (a classical tradition often heard in final movements by Haydn or Mozart). Is this Brahms’s most nature-related symphony? Considering the complicated organisms that develop from the simplest cells, yes, it is. Brahms certainly has the divine, creative talent to show us how this process can work in music.Iván FischerDownload booklet
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