Johannes Brahms Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 2 / Piano Sonata No. 1
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- Released: July 13, 2004
- Originally Released: 2004
- Label: RCA
Song previews provided courtesy of iTunes
Two supreme masterpieces of the piano literature played by a supreme master of the instrument--could there be a more felicitous combination? Brahms wrote his first sonata in 1853, his second concerto almost 30 years later; Richter recorded the concerto in 1960 on his first American tour, the sonata almost 30 years later live at a barn in Germany. The sonata is so formidable technically and musically that it is performed very rarely; the concerto, one of Brahms's greatest mature works, has become a beloved staple of the repertoire. Richter, a well-hidden Soviet treasure until the end of the Cold War, became an instant sensation in the West, and this recording proves again that his playing was unique. It combined seemingly incompatible qualities: his tone had the transparent lucidity of fine lace, with impeccably articulated passage-work and perfectly balanced voicing both in contrapuntal lines and chords, yet it also had an infinite range of colors and inflections; sonorous and sustained, as if he were caressing rather than striking the keys, it was never harsh and could go from massive power to an elfin, gossamer delicacy. His mental and emotional concentration were riveting: he could spin long, arching phrases, build up tension and intensity, and maintain a sense of structure and coherence; his transitions and mood changes were poised and organic. His Brahms interpretation is monumental: classically austere, yet romantically free and ardent, it enters into the youthful, heroic tempestuousness of the sonata and the wistful, dreamy melancholy and profound inwardness of the concerto; the slow movements are pure magic. From the first notes of the very expansive, other-worldly opening of the concerto we know that we are about to embark on an extraordinary experience. The orchestra matches the pianist's every mood and expression and sounds rich and glorious; the prominent horn and cello solos are wonderful. --Edith Eisler
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