What a debut! The Scherzo in E flat minor is the first exsisiting composition by Johannes Brahms, and its gloom and bizarre character go beyond even the no-joking-matter models set by Chopin. Hardy Rittner has recorded this rarity on the fourth installment of his historical Brahms series – for the first time on a 240-centimeter Ignaz Bösendorfer grand piano from 1846. The biting tone of this instrument immediately gets under the skin and forms an exciting contrast to the two J. B. Streicher grand pianos.
Following his recent dazzling Liszt recital (CDA67085), Stephen Hough turns his attention to the finest works of the young Brahms. Brahms's three piano sonatas are early works, culminating with the epic F minor Sonata. Spanning five movements, with dramatic and wildly virtuosic outer movements, and a hauntingly beautiful slow movement (described by Claudio Arrau as "the greatest love music after Tristan, and the most erotic"), this is one of the defining piano sonatas of the mid-nineteenth century.
"…This second volume pairs the first and third sonatas, so now we have the complete sonatas in period performances. Instead of the Johann Baptist Streicher, an 1849/50 Bösendorfer is employed and gives a certain extra element of brightness, weight and tonal depth without sacrificing anything of the clarity that period instruments tend to bring to the proceedings. (…) The recording from MDG, again a 2+2+2 production, is as clear and rounded as that in volume 1. Very highly recommended and one looks forward to future volumes." ~SA-CD.net
…The recording from MDG, again a 2+2+2 production, is as clear and rounded as that in volume 1. Very highly recommended and one looks forward to future volumes.
Lera Auerbach is a prodigiously talented Russian pianist and composer who was born in the city of Chelyabinsk, located to the east of the Ural mountain range, near the Siberian border. Auerbach's promise at the keyboard was discovered early, and she made her debut as a pianist with an orchestra at the age of 8. At the age of 11, Auerbach composed an opera that proved a cause celèbre when it was staged in Russia, and a touring version of the work was seen throughout the Soviet Union. When Auerbach was 17, she was sent to the United States on a concert tour, but decided to defect to the West; she was one of the last Soviet artists to do so. Auerbach continued at Juilliard, where she studied composition with Milton Babbitt and piano with Joseph Kalichstein.
In 2000, Auerbach served the first of two artist residencies at the Baden-Baden home of Johannes Brahms at the behest …….
In the age of Argerich, who brings tightrope-walker tension to chamber music, I doubt that anyone plays the Brahms piano trios with the kind of mellow lushness heard here. Katchen's conception of Brahms was large-scaled but smooth, warm without much psychological struggle. Suk was a honey-toned violinist, and although Starker was the modernist among the three, what's notable here is how perfectly in unison he is with Suk (and blissfully in tune). Decca puts the piano in the middle and the string players close up in their own channels left and right. The result is wide-screen and artificial, of course, since it makes the cello sound as loud as the piano. but the sonic effect is quite luscious.
I've saved my remarks about te interpretations for last. The Brahms trios have attracted great collaborations, and I wouldn't place this one above, say, Istomin-Stern-Rose although it runs ahead of the Beaux Art Trio, for sheer beauty of tone if nothing else. The shortcoming here is a tendency toward cautiousness; these are middle-of-the-road readings that don't capture Brahms' deepest passions. He is placed in the sun too often. But the first two trios aren't sturm and drang works. If you want large-scale performances caught in gorgeous sound, here you go.
–Amazon.com [4 stars] reviewer