This is a rather brisk reading of Brahms' masterpiece, the most ambitious work in his output and one of the greatest compositions of its type. Though Herreweghe's tempos often pushed the music to its limits here (except for the first section), the performance never actually sounded fast, or at least not offensively fast. In fact, it challenges the Levine/RCA effort.
Bernard Haitink conducts the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Brahms’s great orchestral works, including the complete symphonies. The concertos feature three great soloists: pianist Claudio Arrau, violinist Henryk Szeryng, and cellist Janos Starker. "No one, I trust, will deny that Arrau has lived with, wrestled with, and in a truly terribly way ’known’ the D minor Concerto for more years than most of us can consciously recall. Where contemporary pianists have often tended to refine or domesticate the concerto, withdrawing it from the world of heroic endeavour, Arrau has always done the reverse. No pianist, apart possibly from Serkin in his several recordings, has communicated so formidably the work’s scope: its seriousness and its anxious, tragic mood. Often Arrau makes free with the text. But the vision is huge, the technique astonishing. Haitink is a worthy accompanist."
Those who are able to follow Anne Sofie von Otter's live recitals and stage performances will have noticed how much more lively movement and physical definition there is now in the voice. This once noble, but still cool Swedish mezzo-soprano has now begun to reach out to her audiences with a more active will, a more imaginative warmth as her artistry continues to mature.
Julius Katchen performs the composer's work whom he most favored; again, highly-esteemed recordings among classical cognoscenti.
Longtime fans of reclusive Romanian pianist Radu Lupu will no doubt already know his handful of recordings of Brahms' piano music made in the '70s and early '80s for Decca – his recklessly imperious F minor Sonata, romantically dramatic D minor Concerto, inwardly brooding D minor Variations, and richly autumnal late rhapsodies, ballades, and intermezzos. But fans of Brahms' piano music who don't already know Lupu's recordings will be overwhelmed by what they'd heretofore missed. Lupu's full, round tone, his effortless virtuosity, his poetic intensity, and his soulful expressivity combine in unified performances of consummate artistry.
As well as Brahms’ 175th birthday in 2008 inspired these recordings in the “Kunsthaus” in Mürzzuschlag. Ronald Fuchs and Chanda VanderHart play, in addition to the two cello sonatas, six Brahms lieder transcriptions in their original keys. The lieder selected have a special connection to both the Streicher piano and with Mürzzuschlag itself. Brahms played severel of them, including “Wie Melodien zieht es mir” with Hermine Spies, and composed both “Sapphische Ode” and “Der Tod, das ist die kühle Nacht” during his time in Mürzzuschlag.
With this two-disc set of the piano quartets, Nicholas Angelich proves conclusively that he is the best Brahms pianist of his generation. His previous Brahms recordings – a 2005 disc of the violin sonatas with Renaud Capuçon, a 2006 solo collection featuring the Paganini Variations, a 2007 solo collection of the late piano works, and a 2008 disc of the First Piano Concerto with Paavo Järvi leading the Frankfurt Radio Symphony – showed his skill in a variety of settings.
Is this what Gallic Brahms sounds like? Well, violinist Renaud Capuçon is French-born and French-trained, and pianist Nicholas Angelich, while America-born, is French-trained, but does this make them French musicians rather than musicians who are French? Possibly: Capuçon has the lean, lyrical tone that has been the specialty of French violinists since Louis Capet and Angelich has the lush, lucid tone that has been the specialty of French pianists since Walter Gieseking.