Brahms: Symphony No. 4

Performing with: Swedish Chamber Orchestra

Brahms, who was in favour of smaller orchestras, would surely have welcomed the 39-strong Swedish Chamber Orchestra’s performances. He might also have approved of Thomas Dausgaard’s flexible tempo in the opening movement of the Fourth, and the finale’s, and the Tragic Overture’s, powerful drive.

The Sunday Times

“What a fresh, lively, transparent Brahms Fourth this is! … [I] find my interest in Brahms instantly revived. The Swedish Chamber Orchestra, 39 strong, has all the nimbleness, individuality of phrase and fire one expects from an ensemble of this size, but also manages to summon the sort of heft one expects from a larger group. This release is shockingly attractive.  

“Thomas Dausgaard achieved the same energy, appropriateness, and originality in earlier releases of the first three Brahms symphonies with these forces. Dausgaard manages to make the symphonies sound like the works of a young man, the lively pub-crawling Brahms we meet in biographies but seldom think of when we hear his symphonies. …Dausgaard concludes the program with an electrifying and-dare one say it-joyous Tragic Overture, more exciting than the depressive lumbering accounts one often experiences. …This is Brahms from the edge of one’s seat.”


Steven Kruger


“Begun in 2012 with the release of Symphony No. 1, Thomas Dausgaard’s four-disc traversal of the symphonies of Johannes Brahms is here brought to a close with the composer’s final work in the genre. The E minor Symphony is sometimes described as Brahms’ ‘elegiac symphony’, and has been called ‘one of the greatest orchestral works since Beethoven’. Typical for the composer is the striking degree of motivic relationships throughout the work. This includes the finale in which Brahms demonstrates his full mastery in a towering Passacaglia consisting of 30 variations and a coda. The smallish forces of the Swedish Chamber Orchestra contribute to a transparency and clarity which bring out the finer details of Brahms’ compositional web. As on previous instalments, the symphony is coupled with other works by Brahms. Included on the present disc is another late work, Tragic Overture, which concludes the programme. These two ‘serious’ works frame some of the most rousing and ebullient music Brahms ever wrote, namely his Hungarian Dances. Composed for piano four-hands, the 21 dances became immensely popular, and Brahms arranged three of them for orchestra himself. Having made his own orchestrations of the remaining 18 dances, Thomas Dausgaard has recorded the full set for his Brahms cycle, with the final nine dances included here.”


Brahms: Symphony No. 4 in E minor, Op. 98
1. I. Allegro non troppo
2. II. Andante moderato
3. III. Allegro giocoso
4. IV. Allegro energico e passionato

Excerpt, Brahms: Hungarian Dances, WoO 1 Nos. 1-21
5. No. 2 in D Minor
6. No. 4 in F Minor
7. No. 8 in A Minor
8. No. 9 in E Minor
9. No. 17 in F-Sharp Minor
10. No. 18 in D Major
11. No. 19 in B Minor
12. No. 20 in E Minor
13. No. 21 in E Minor

14. Brahms: Tragic Overture, Op. 81