“Naturally, it helps that Maestro Woods has the full measure of the music. Well, he ought to since he orchestrated it. It’s not quite like hearing music played by the composer himself, but it’s close…And it helps that the English Symphony Orchestra is a well-disciplined group that seems perfectly comfortable with Woods’s direction. Together, conductor and orchestra ensure a rewarding experience.
“The opening Allegro at about seventeen minutes is the longest movement in the work. Woods takes it at an easy, graceful pace, the melodies flowing freely and effortlessly. The slow movement follows seamlessly, building on the bucolic atmosphere created in the previous section. Yet, under Woods there is a melancholic tone as well, compounded by a touch of pain.
“Brahms ends the work in high fashion, with a Gypsy-like flourish, and Woods does it justice, both as orchestrator and conductor. It has all the grand yet youthful style you would expect from a Brahms not yet in his thirties.
“By the time the work concludes, one has forgotten that the composer intended the music for a quartet. In essence, Woods has created a new Brahms Fifth Symphony.
” Phil Rowlands – Producer produced and engineered the album, which he recorded at 192kHz at Wyastone Concert Hall, Wyastone Leys, Ganarew, England in November 2017. The sound, as I’ve found from most Nimbus recordings over the years, is admirably lifelike, with just a touch of natural hall ambience…The sound is warm, reasonably dimensional and dynamic, and pleasantly agreeable. It’s just the sort of thing that fits Brahms to a T.