Brahms Piano Quintet, Op. 34

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Brahms Piano QuintetBrahms Piano Quintet

BRAHMS Piano Quintet, Op. 34

  • Quintet for Piano and Strings

As I remarked when reviewing the Bartok/Ranki version (Hungaroton), your choice in this work is likely to depend on your priorities. I did not review this Pollini version when it first appeared, but a friend of mine played me just the slow movement and I thought it marvellous: however, when I heard the whole performance on this newly transferred CD, I realized that that movement is by far the best of it and that, for the rest, the balance is too variable and too dominated by the pianist to be anything like ideal. So you will only go for this version if you are a Pollini fan or are primarily interested in the piano playing, which is superb.
The Musikverein Quartet with Previn on Philips is the best balanced recording and together they give a wonderfully well integrated and perceptive performance. It is the most recent of these recordings and is my own choice. But I did start by referring to priorities and if your own is for quantity of music for your money, then it (and the Pollini for that matter) is poor value at only just over 41 minutes (the Pollini is a couple of minutes longer) compared with Hungaroton who couple it with the Clarinet Quintet. The Hungarian sound quality is not very good—it dates from the mid-1970s but it remains a fine buy for those who want value.'

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