Johannes Brahms, BRAHMS: Symphony No. 3 / Haydn Variations

Marin Alsop

By Marin Alsop

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

I think, with the First and Second Symphonies, Brahms is paying so much tribute to the masterpieces and great composers of the past. He's very cognizant of music history and where music has come from. He's keenly aware of his place and his reverence for Beethoven, for example, and at the same time in the First and Second Symphonies you see him sort of putting a foot in the water of the future. But with the Symphony No. 3, he puts both feet in the futuristic water. While he's not stepping entirely out of the frame of what's come before, he's able to almost outdo current composers and what they are doing. For example, the Third Symphony is almost like a tone poem, because thematically it's completely interconnected — everything comes back at the end. He's able to take the new concept of a tone poem that Liszt, Wagner and Strauss are addressing or are about to address. And he's able to do that in the context of what's come before. So I feel that the third symphony is extremely forward thinking.