Magazine article Gramophone

Brahms * Schumann: Brahms Violin Concerto, Op 77

Magazine article Gramophone

Brahms * Schumann: Brahms Violin Concerto, Op 77

Article excerpt

Brahms * Schumann

Brahms Violin Concerto, Op 77 (a). Piano Concerto No 1, Op 15 (b) Schumann Piano Quartet, Op 47 (c) (bc) Emanuel Ax pf (a) Frank Peter Zimmermann, (c) Vesko Eschkenazy vns (c) Henk Rubingh va (c) Gregor Horsch vc (ab) Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra / Bernard Haitink RCO Live (B) (2) [SACD] RC017001 (116' * DDD/DSD) Recorded live, (a) March 17-19 & 21, (b) December 15, 17 & 19, 2010; (c) June 20, 2016

This latest issue on the Royal Concertgebouw's own label is a celebration of its honorary conductor, Bernard Haitink. As a Brahms conductor his interpretations have long been admired for their humanity, a quality that radiates through both concertos on this set; they were recorded live in 2010 (Haitink a sprightly 81) and the audience is thankfully silent apart from applause at the end. Haitink's enduring association with this music ensures that every gesture has a naturalness to it, drawing out an oboe line here, a clarinet phrase there. Temperamentally, Frank Peter Zimmermann is on exacdy the same wavelength, finding a balance between heart and head, portamentos judiciously applied.

The slow movement is particularly rapt, Zimmerman imbuing the solo line with a sinuous, silky quality. He and Haitink are faster than Gergiev for Znaider, though the latter's sound is so sheerly beautiful that it becomes a delight rather than an indulgence. Jansen is also particularly alluring here, lending the movement a confiding quality. The tempo for the dancing finale on this new set is again just so, Haitink and Zimmermann clearly enjoying its contrast between ebullience and inwardness.

The D minor First Piano Concerto is no less impressive, the opening orchestral tutti a mix of strength and poignancy, qualities that Emanuel Ax takes up in his very first entry. Ax is of course no stranger to this repertoire and he conveys a sense of weightiness and struggle while propelling the music forwards, but never becoming overly hard-driven. In that sense, he has more momentum than Sunwook Kim in his recent recording with Elder (reviewed above on page 32). Ax's slow movement has a solemn yet confiding quality, the pianist caressing the lines without bending them out of shape, the big chordal passage near the end given with real passion. …

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