Brahms Symphony No 2

Conducted by Valery Gergiev

The London Symphony Orchestra present Brahms' Tragic Overture and his Symphony No 2 alongside Szymanowski's Symphony No 2.

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Brahms struggled with the composition of his First Symphony for around 20 years. The D major symphony, however, was completed within less than a year of the First’s premiere - in the summer of 1877 - and belongs to an entirely different sound-world. With its joyful melodies and pastoral beauty, influenced by the surroundings of the idyllic lakeside spa of Pörtschach am Wörthersee, it portrays a rather more relaxed tone than its predecessor. Its expansive and improvisatory nature, fuller orchestral sonority, and richer orchestral detail, reflect the many new influences that had now entered Brahms’s music.

For decades Szymanowski’s music was rarely heard outside Poland. Today, he is recognised as one of the country’s greatest musical figures. His desire to embody the music of his native land and his incorporation of the folkloric sounds of the Polish mountains make his orchestral works a must for anyone with an interest in Polish culture and music. His second, chamber-like Symphony artfully interweaves layer upon layer of seemingly disparate musical ideas to form a complex tapestry, and was to become one of the composer’s favourite personal works.


The most distinctive feature of the [second] symphony is this luxuriant, late romantic use of the orchestra. Valery Gergiev, the LSO’s principal conductor, is the mastermind behind the series and his command of scintillating textures, learnt in the fantasy operas and ballets of his native Russian composers, was put to good use. 

Financial Times

Supported by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute as part of the Polska Music Programme.

Captured live at the Barbican, London, in October 2012 and presented as part of the London Symphony Orchestra Collection.

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