Immaculate Brahms interpretation

Robin Ticciati leads the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra through Brahms's early orchestral music with too controlling a hand.

Composer: Brahms
Repertoire:  Haydn Variations, Serenade No.1, Three Hungarian Dances

Artists: Bamberg Symphony Orchestra/Robin Ticciati
Rating:  3/5
Genre: Orchestral
Label: Tudor 7183

The Music: Some of Brahms’s early orchestral music is
 well known, like the variations on a theme supposed to
 be by Haydn (though it probably isn’t). And some of it, like the unpretentious and engaging Serenade No.1,
 is much less familiar.

The Performance: The bomb-proof technical security of Brahms’s orchestral music makes it almost impossible to ruin in performance. Then again, it doesn’t entirely ‘play itself’ either. What needs to come across is a warm emotional charge that seems to glow from inside the music, rather than be applied from without. In the Haydn Variations’ sequence of short, tight forms, the quality of this German orchestra is more than enough to do them justice. But the Serenade’s six movements (three short ones enclosed by three larger) need something more than Ticciati’s unobtrusive control.

The Verdict: Immaculate and innocuous interpretations from a young conductor from whom (one hopes) there will be finer things to come.

Want More? The works on this CD were early outliers of Brahms’s great cycle of four symphonies, magnificently recorded by the Tonhalle Orchestra conducted by David Zinman. (RCA Red Seal 88697 93349-2).