Magazine article Gramophone

Brahms: Piano Concertos

Magazine article Gramophone

Brahms: Piano Concertos

Article excerpt


Piano Concertos No 1, Op 15; No 2, Op 83

Rudolf Buchbinder pf

Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra / Zubin Mehta

Sony Classical (M) (2) 88985 37158-2 (9V * DDD)

Recorded live at the Musikverein, Vienna, March 7-10,2015

This is a recording made at concerts Rudolf Buchbinder gave with Zubin Mehta and the VPO in the Goldener Saal of the Vienna Musikverein in March 2015. He's a fine player and you have to admire the stamina of someone at nearly 70 who can give the two Brahms concertos in a single evening. Perhaps one should admire the audience's stamina too. He began with No 2 in B flat and says that he always plays No 1 in D minor after the interval since 'there is really nothing else that can follow it--it is simply too inspired'.

The booklet, rather a muddle in English, is much more about Buchbinder than Brahms, as if inviting acclaim for the vision and insights he brings to these monumental pieces rather than the character and variety the composer took such pains to enshrine in them. Buchbinder has recorded them twice before--with Harnoncourt and the Concertgebouw, and more recently with Mehta again and the Israel PO--and I must be fair to him: whatever you think of his sensibility and limitations, there are few players who can command these pieces technically as completely as he does.

They are driven pretty hard, particularly in their first movements, with the sound full and the attack powerful as if we needed constantly to be reminded of Brahms's massiveness. But I do like the strictness of tempo. Where others might see cues for easings, or at least a glance to left and right, soloist and conductor keep going, straight down the middle, which is probably close to what the composer intended. Doubts occur when there seems not enough variety of weight and expression. The middle of the first movement of No 2, after the big climax piano and orchestra build in F minor, is so rich in incident and colour that a traversal of it as if there were nothing that required differentiation is bound to seem inadequate. Pianists accepting the old nonsense about these concertos being really 'symphonies with piano' are frequently guilty of such misconceptions. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.