Competition: Gardiner's Brahms on Soli Deo Gloria

Win a copy of Sir John Eliot Gardiner's new recording of Brahms' First Symphony

25 August 2008

Brahms Symphony 1: Gardiner(Soli Deo Gloria)In our latest competition, we've teamed up with Soli Deo Gloria to offer our readers the chance to win a copy of Sir John Eliot Gardiner's exciting new Brahms CD with the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique.

It is the first disc in a new series that sees Gardiner and his orchestra explore the music of Johannes Brahms in connection with an ongoing concert series that started last autumn and continues in September and October at the Royal Festival Hall and worldwide.

Gardiner has set Brahms' symphonies in the context of his own superb and often neglected choral music, in addition to that of the old masters he cherished (Schütz and Bach especially) and of recent heroes of his (Mendelssohn, Schubert and Schumann). The recordings from this series are drawn from Gardiner's two-year Brahms and his Antecedents project which is in two parts.  The first segment of the project, featuring the first two symphonies and the German Requiem, began in October 2007 and included two concerts at the newly-reopened Royal Festival Hall.   The second part features the Third and Fourth symphonies, also in a historical and vocal context, and comes to the same venue on 4 and 5 October. 

This project not only celebrates Brahms the composer, but traces the roots from which he drew his creative inspiration – in other words, it hints at a paradigmatic approach in Brahms' compositional technique.  Few composers of the nineteenth century had such a close and informed relationship to music of the past, and for this reason great choral works by composers as varied as Bach, Schütz and Mendelssohn are performed alongside Brahms' own compositions. As Gardiner explains: 'When we approach Brahms nowadays, the temptation is to concentrate exclusively on his orchestral output - the overtures, concertos and symphonies - and replicate a safe 'meat-and-two-veg' approach.  But the more I thought about it, the more convinced I became that a worthwhile approach would be to juxtapose his symphonies with vocal music – music which Brahms himself cherished (studied, edited and conducted) – and so to set them in a historical Brahms-specific context rather than presenting an encyclopaedic survey of all his orchestral output.'

Sir John Eliot GardinerContinuing his interest in period performance practice, Gardiner not only explores Brahms' musical origins but attempts to reveal the very sounds which inspired him.  Such authenticity has been sought by using instruments favoured by the composer.  Natural horns (i.e. without valves), for instance, give exactly the right flavour to the haunting, valley-resounding alphorn theme in the finale of the First Symphony.

This exciting new recording comprises Brahms' Symphony 1, Begräbnisgesang and Schicksalslied, plus Mendelssohn's Mitten wir in Leben sind, Op.23. It combines the large-scale vigour, drama and passion of Brahms with the expert musicianship and authentic approach that has come to be expected of John Eliot Gardiner, The Monteverdi Choir and his superb Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique. This series is an important milestone for Soli Deo Gloria, heralding the development of the label beyond the music of Johann Sebastian Bach and the Renaissance choral repertoire which have so far dominated its catalogue. Inside the same elegant packaging used for the Bach Cantatas CDs, the liner notes feature an in-depth conversation between John Eliot Gardiner and composer Hugh Wood.

For your chance to win a copy of this prestigious new release, simply answer the following question:

Soli Deo GloriaWhich conductor famously labelled Brahms' First as 'Beethoven's Tenth Symphony?'

a)      Hans von Bülow
b)      Felix Otto Dessoff
c)      Hans Richter
d)      Karl Anton Eckert

Email your answer, name and address to competitions@musicalcriticism.com by 15 September 2008. Please indicate if you do not wish to receive further correspondence.

For more information on this and all the CDs available from Soli Deo Gloria, see their website.

Editorial by Dominic McHugh

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Rules, terms and conditions: 1. This competition is organised by MusicalCriticism.com and Soli Deo Gloria. 2. MusicalCriticism.com reserves the right to cancel or amend the competition at any time without prior notice. Any changes will be posted within the competition notice. 3. In the event of a dispute regarding the terms and conditions, conduct, results and all other matters relating to this competition, the decision of the Editor or Deputy Editor shall be final and no correspondence or discussion shall be entered into. 4. The competition is open to residents of the UK only. 5. Contributors and employees, their associates and members of their families and households are not eligible to enter. 6. Only one entry per person is permitted for this competition. 7. Entries received after the closing date of 15 September 2008 will be automatically disqualified. No purchase required. 8. The winners will be chosen at random after the closing date, from all correct entries received by 11.59pm on 15 September 2008. 9. Prizes are non-transferable. No cash alternatives will be offered. The winner will be notified by email and the prize delivered by post.