After the great success of his Beethoven cycle, Christian Thielemann now turns with his new orchestra, the Staatskapelle Dresden, to the symphonic and concertante works of Johannes Brahms. And once again he succeeds in presenting a new and authoritative reading of these works. In place of Romantic “feelings” he infuses the soundscape with clarity and finely judged balance. “Voices are audible that otherwise flit by” (Dresdner Neueste Nachrichten), “Thielemann unravels an enormous piece into a delicate chamber music” wrote the renowned Japanese daily Mainichi Shimbun. The tradition of the German kapellmeister is upheld: “Calm and composed tempo, the ground-rumbling sound, […] overwhelming surging wave of sounds at climaxes. We can’t think of any other conductor than Thielemann at present who has all those endowments, which used to be the (original) trade mark of German maestros.” – so said the Asahi Shimbun (Tokyo).
“We have the score, as it was created, the biography of a composer – all that is of interest to me, but it is not essential,” says Christian Thielemann. “We musicians must seek to understand the way a sound takes effect: what chords, melodies, clashes a composer employs to address the people in his audience. Our duty is to sense these moments in the score and to realize them in sound: in such a way that the audience is moved.”
Brahms is still widely regarded as the “legitimate successor to Ludwig van Beethoven”, an honour that Brahms declined in his own lifetime. What is clear is that to say he was inspired and influenced by Beethoven is an understatement, and Brahms’s awe of Beethoven explains why he began so late with the composition of his symphonies and why he needed almost 15 years to complete the first of them. Today there is no question but that Brahms not only added to the symphonic genre but developed a musical language of his own: Brahms’s symphonies are essentially chamber music. Nothing is incidental, each individual voice is important, and themes and motifs are closely interwoven with one another. Christian Thielemann succeeds in bringing this out: “Voices are perceptible that otherwise race by” (Dresdner Neueste Nachrichten).