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.
Ivan Fischer's version of these ever-popular classics is as valid an essay in stylistic restoration as the most scholarly period-instrument performance of Bach or Handel… The transcriptions have been reworked and in one or two movements an improvised cimbalom part has been added, played by a well-known Hungarian musician, Kalman Balogh. Not a record for purists perhaps, but I found the results invigorating and thought-provoking.- S.J. Gramophone, March 1987.
This Zimerman recording of the Brahms Piano Concerto no. 1 may have received some critical lambasting when it was originally released. However, despite this, I find that this recording is unjustly underrated because in its own special way it plumbs the depths of Brahms' heart and soul. Zimerman, although he recorded this in his late-twenties, interprets the solo part with insight, and does not go over-the-top with pianistic pyrotechnics, as most other pianists tend to do. Bernstein leads the Viennese musicians in a sympathetic accompaniment that serves as a perfect foil to Zimerman's parts and allows him to integrate into the orchestral texture. And the DG recording, although not entirely clear, is characterised by the atmosphere and bloom of the Vienna Musikverein, despite the extreme forward balance of the piano.
I haven't enjoyed a set of performances of the Hungarian Dances so much since I played them with the local youth orchestra at the age of 14. In a way, Ivan Fischer's version of these ever-popular classics is as valid an essay in stylistic restoration as the most scholarly period-instrument performance of Bach or Handel. - S.J. Gramophone, March 1987.
Leonidas Kavakos tackles a pillar of the violin repertoire in a disc that establishes him as a concerto soloist for Decca Classics. His first concerto disc for Decca features the Brahms Violin Concerto, for which he is joined by one of the world’s greatest orchestras and conductors, the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig and Riccardo Chailly. Leonidas is also accompanied by pianist Péter Nagy for Brahms’ timeless Hungarian Dances (No.s 1, 2 ,6 and 11) and Bartók’s energetic Rhapsodies and Romanian Folk Dances – two great composers hugely influenced by Hungarian folk music.