Brahms' piano concertos, which are the best??

84 posts / 0 new
Last post
Brahms' piano concertos, which are the best??

Commounly we mentioned like best #1 Clifford Curzon-George Szells performance, and like best#2 Sviatoslav Richter-Erich Leinsdorf version, a recording that curiosly Richter in his own words hated! But times have changed and at this time there are 100 or more new recordings of this marvelluos works, and because of that the competition is very fierce to day! Which do you think are the best recordings of this works? In my case I vote for Peter Donohoe-Svetlanov with Philharmonia Orch. like best # 1 (10/9 in "classicstoday" review), a passionate, dinamic and colourful performance, closer to Rudolf Buchbinder-Harnoncourt recording, but Buchbinder seems feeeble or timid in front to a more convincing Donohoe. In #2 my prefered is Emil Gilels-Fritz Reiner's version, but Hans Richter Haaser-Karajan and Geza Anda-Ferenc Fricsay are also excellent versions. Which are yours?? Regards oscar.olavarria

 

RE: Brahms' piano concertos, which are the best??

Kun-Woo Paik, Inbal, Chzech PO, on DG for # 1, and Ivan Moravec, Belohlavek, Czech PO, on Supraphon for # 2.

Best, H.

hector
I'm quite fond of the early

I'm quite fond of the early 80's recordings of both concertos by Ashkenazy and Haitink, on Decca.

My first encounter with these marvellous works (to me they're the greatest piano concertos ever written, period) was with the old Rudolf Serkin recordings, with Szell and Ormandy If I remember correctly. I wonder if it's worth digging them up somewhere, don't have very clear recollections of those performances.

RE: Brahms' piano concertos, which are the best??

We are very fortunate to have an abundance of recordings from all recording periods to trace and chase. Since these two works are some of the most complex, demanding, multifold, profound concertos for Piano, there cannot possibly be a definitive recording or performance. However, some notable ones could be the following (apart from the ones mentioned above):

-For both concertos, one of the two recordings with Kovacevich, probably the one with C. Davis, re-issued by Newton. Very fine and refined performances, more than decent recordings.

-For both, the Moravec/Belohlavek, on Supraphon, released on 2006. Fine both as performances and recordings from a great pianist and a solid conductor.

-For both, the Gilels/Jochum, on DG. With such a pianist and conductor, one has simply to listen and...learn.

-For the First, the historic but great Curzon/Szell recording on Decca. Some inevitable reservations on the old recording.

-For the First, the unknown or overlooked Badura-Skoda/Korobov, on Genuin. For such a pianist, it's worth a try. The recording is recent and live (2008) and sounds very fine.

-For both, with some emphasis on the First,  the rather recent (2007) recording of Freire/ Chailly, on Decca. Two great artists and a superb recording.

-For the First, the "first" recording (on SACD) with a very fine period instrument (an Erard of 1853), performed by Hardy Richter (a specialist on period instruments) and conductor Werner Erhardt. On MDG.

-For the Second, the Angelich/P.Jarvi, on Virgin. Very impressive, enhanced by a superlative recording.

-For the Second, the Hamelin/Litton, on Hyperion. Great in all aspects, including the recording (exists in SACD as well).

-For the Second, the Zimmerman/Bernstein, on DG. A very personal but utterly interesting and impressive account, in an convincing recording.

There are many more to explore. The above is an indicative account of some recordings I own and I know.

50m, these Concertos are definitely some of the greatest in the repertory. However, their complexity, the gargantuan length and enough demands for both the orchestra and of course the soloist make them loose some of the immediate effect and the essence of the music of a Bach, Mozart or Beethoven Concerto for the same instrument.

Parla

RE: Brahms' piano concertos, which are the best??

I would put forward as best performance of Brahms' 2nd the wartime Edwin Fischer/Wilhelm Furtwangler performance.

 

RE: I'm quite fond of the early
50milliarden wrote:

My first encounter with these marvellous works (to me they're the greatest piano concertos ever written, period) was with the old Rudolf Serkin recordings, with Szell and Ormandy If I remember correctly. I wonder if it's worth digging them up somewhere, don't have very clear recollections of those performances.

Coincidentally, I listened to Serkin's recording of the 1st with Szell (Cleveland) today. It isn't all that old; it dates from 1968 and is the only one I have. It sounds fine to me, though having heard this concerto several times live as well as on disc I can't say it's a favourite of mine. Still it was good to hear it again, not having done so for a while.

RE: Brahms' piano concertos, which are the best??

"For the First the historic but great Curzon recording on Decca"

Got to agree with Parla - one of the best.Not sure about being historic.In 1953, when Curzon was in his prime, he made his first recording of this work with Van Beinum conducting the Concertgbouw,also on Decca.That is historic, and of course in (fine) mono sound.It is every bit as good as the admired later stereo Szell performance.

Decca it seems have made a few superb Brahms piano concerto recordings.Surprised there has been no mention of Wilhelm Backhaus thus far,he recorded both works more then once.The second with Boehm conducting the Vienna Phil is a classic. Also, again for both and on Decca I have a great admiration for Katchen.

RE: Brahms' piano concertos, which are the best??

Agree with HM above on Katchen & Backhaus (both the last and his pre-war with the same partners). Even more remarkable at his age in a work that seems to have seen off two of its interpreters. Richter-Haaser (I agree with Oscar his recording with Karajan is one of the best) collapsed whilst rehearsing it and died shortly afterwards whilst one of its few female interpreters, Gina Bachauer (good Mercury recording) died of a heart attack the afternoon before she was due to play it.

Kovacevich/Sawallisch are excellent in both as is Leonardo Gelber and are Serkin/Szell. Normally an enthusiast for Curzon the performance of the first doesn't gel for me: superb playing and sound from the orchestra but I find the piano sound unimpressive - no match for Katchen. Interesting as presumably both made in the same venue with the same orchestra (I don't know Curzon's earlier version). Agree too with Naupilus regarding Brendel/Abbado (Brendel being the only one amongst those mentioned I've heard play it live).

RE: Same venue for Curzon and Katchen.

Out of curiosity I checked on the CHARM website.You are correct 33lp both the Curzon/Szell and Katchen/Monteux Brahms 1st concerto were recorded at the Kingsway Hall,London.
What did surprise me was the Katchen was recorded first,March 1959.The Curzon over three years later May 1962.I always assumed that Curzon preceded Katchen.

RE: Same venue for Curzon and Katchen.

Interesting HM - I thought the orchestral sound better on Curzon (Speakers Corner LP) but the piano sound better on Katchen (CD)!

I still regard a recital by Katchen as the finest I have ever attended.

RE: Same venue for Curzon and Katchen.

"there cannot possibly be a definitive recording or performance. However, some notable ones could be the following...."(Parla said)

Cear parla, I think that your list (a remarkable effort in all case) is notoriously incomplete, xapart to be -sometimes- innapropriate, because of in #2 where are Richter-Leinsdorf, Geza Anda-Fricsay, Gilels-Reiner, Schnabel-Boult (in historicals versions) Arrau-Giulini recordings??, I think those are more important versions than Hamelin or Angelichs, for example.

About Katchen recordings, I think that Katchen is effectively superlative in Brahms solo piano works, but not in the piano concerts, in # 1 for example I find him unconvincing (and also in # 2) and Monteux with his spontaneus and natural style (he practised very little!), makes an unelaborate accompaniment, and the same goes for hungarian conductor Ferencsik in # 2, osviously he is out from his repertoire in this work.

In # 1 we have forgotted Arrau-Kubelik version in Orfeo, a live recording that is known like a "titans duel", because of serious conflicts between soloist and conductor, an unforgiveable omision, dont you believe it?? oscar.olavarria

 

 

 

 

 

Pages

Log in or register to post comments

Gramophone Subscriptions

From£67/year

Gramophone Print

Gramophone Print

no Digital Edition
no Digital Archive
no Reviews Database
no Events & Offers
From£67/year
Subscribe
From£67/year

Gramophone Reviews

Gramophone Reviews

no Print Edition
no Digital Edition
no Digital Archive
no Events & Offers
From£67/year
Subscribe
From£67/year

Gramophone Digital Edition

Gramophone Digital Edition

no Print Edition
no Reviews Database
no Events & Offers
From£67/year
Subscribe

If you are a library, university or other organisation that would be interested in an institutional subscription to Gramophone please click here for further information.

© MA Business and Leisure Ltd. 2019