Once celebrated as 'Beethoven's Tenth', Brahms' first attempt at the symphonic genre was generally greeted as the most promising answer to Beethoven's legendary legacy, and solidified his musical reputation. For Blomstedt, bringing these Brahms pieces into the world in the strange year of 2020 has a special significance, as Robert Schumann, Brahms' close friend and mentor, once pointed out that it is the musician's mission 'to bring light into the depths of the human soul'. The euphoric finale of Brahms' 'First Symphony', evidently inspired by Beethoven's 'Ode to Joy', fully conveys this message of hope and Blomstedt's unshakable belief in the imperishable power of the human spirit.
Blomstedt's work as a conductor is inseparably linked to his religious and human ethos, and his interpretations combine great faithfulness to the score and analytical precision with a soulfulness that awakens the music to pulsating life. In the more than sixty years of his career, he has acquired the unrestricted respect of the musical world.The Gewandhausorchester Leipzig is the oldest civic orchestra in the world with a glorious history, and is still counted among the world's leading ensembles. Both make their PENTATONE debut.
BBC Music Magazine December 2020
Blomstedt’s attention to detail is admirable, and his performances are wonderfully controlled. Perhaps the Symphony’s slow movement lingers a little more than necessary, but the orchestral playing is so incandescent that it’s hard to complain...this is a splendid and inspiring disc, and it can’t be recommended too strongly. *****
Sunday Times 22nd November 2020
As one would expect of the maestro, whose sprightly appearances with the Philharmonia in London are treasurable, this is a deeply considered, broadly conceived account of the C minor Symphony. It is notable for the beauty of the Leipzigers’ playing...but there is drama too in his momentous build-up to the “Beethoven” theme of the last movement.