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Brahms piano concerto no 2

Further to the post below about the music of Brahms, I recently discovered a recording of the Bflat concerto most worthy of your attention.

My favorite recordings of this work had been Serkin/Szell (cerebral, logical, brilliantly played) and Richter/Leinsdorf (exciting, forceful, fast). Richter gets through the work (which can seem endless) in less time than just about anyone, and the orchestral work (CSO) is top notch.

Now I find another pianist displaying similar youthful forward thrust, power, and technique who adds rare intellect and visionary insight into the music. This is a man going all out for excitement and grandeur, phrasing boldly, using subtle rubato, taking risks. Tempi are the fastest I've heard, 15:53 (Richter/Leinsdorf 16:49)in the opening and at least a half minute faster than Richter in each of the remaining movements. There are truly heroic qualities here: momentum, staggering dynamics, glittering runs and trills, plus a lightness and sweep that makes this fiendishly difficult score sound easy. The pianist is even willing to harden his tone and pound away, nearly drowning out a (very good) orchestra in the big climaxes. By contrast, the solo plays numerous soft levels below piano with unbelievable delicacy snd variety of touch. After the first movement I found myself nearly out of breath just from listening.

So who is this fiery keyboard master? Pogo, Horowitz, Hoffman, some up and coming new babe musician?

I'd love to prolong the suspense, but our unlikely virtuoso is no stranger: it's Artur Schnabel, in a 1935 Boult/BBC performance available on several recent CD issues. I got mine coupled with the 1947 studio "Kinderszenen", done fabulously as you might expect. Sound is fine for its vintage.

Don't miss this.

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Topic - Brahms piano concerto no 2 - Brian Cheney 13:38:48 04/29/12 (32)


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