1988, Music

Dvorak: Symphony No. 8 / Brahms: Symphony No. 3 (1988) by Wiener Philharmoniker, Herbert von Karajan

In 2013, I wrote the following:

At first this seemed to me like an arbitrary combination (something which I generally dislike) but for some reason the two works seem to mesh well together, and it’s not just because they were written within five years of each other. They seem (at least on my first listens) to strike similar tones and so the combination doesn’t appear so odd.


I think I was basing that arbitrary idea on the dates of the recordings, not the dates of composition because, if I’d only just looked up the pieces, I would have seen they were published 5 years apart. And they’re both High Romantic symphonies, so I’m not sure what I was complaining about it. Lett’s up the rating.


Atonin Dvorak: Symphony No. 8 in G major, Op. 88, B. 163 (1889)

  • Allegro con brio (G minor → G major)
  • Adagio (E♭ major → C minor → C major)
  • Allegretto grazioso — Molto vivace (G minor → ending in G major)
  • Allegro ma non troppo (G major)

I definitely prefer my Romantic music moody and brooding, so this bubbly thing is not really in my wheel-house necessarily. But I appreciate both the commitment to musical sources outside the strict classical tradition and his playfulness with the tradition. I have to read about it because my ears are still not good enough to detect subtle twists like this, but it’s certainly crowd-pleasing enough that you don’t need to know what he’s up to, to enjoy it as music (if this upbeat stuff is your thing).

If memory serves, I prefer No. 9. Not sure I’ve heard any others.

Johannes Brahms: Symphony No. 3 in F major, Op. 90 (1883)

  • Allegro con brio (F major, in sonata form)
  • Andante (C major, in a modified sonata form)
  • Poco allegretto (C minor, in ternary form A–B–A′)
  • Allegro — Un poco sostenuto (F minor → F major, in a modified sonata form)

Written and first performed in 1883, but revised a few times and published in 1884.

This is apparently one of Brahms’ most popular symphonies. I first listened to this symphony years ago, when I was listening to a fair amount of Brahms. But in the interim, not only have I not listened to Brahms in a while, I haven’t listened to composers of his era in rather a long time. and I must say my new first impression is that it is rather subtle at times, something that, I must confess, is not my favourite thing.

But it grows on me with time, and I understand, at some level, why it is popular, even if it does seem more traditional than most of the music I associate with this particular decade.

That 3rd movement is justly famous.

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