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Brahms: Piano Concertos/Variations on a Theme/Tragic Overture
Johannes Brahms, Karl Böhm, Claudio Abbado
Brahms: Piano Concertos/Variations on a Theme/Tragic Overture
Genre: Classical
  •  Track Listings (4) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (5) - Disc #2


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CD Details

All Artists: Johannes Brahms, Karl Böhm, Claudio Abbado, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Maurizio Pollini
Title: Brahms: Piano Concertos/Variations on a Theme/Tragic Overture
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 0
Label: Deutsche Grammophon
Release Date: 7/15/1997
Genre: Classical
Styles: Forms & Genres, Concertos, Instruments, Keyboard
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaCD Credits: 2
UPC: 028945306728

CD Reviews

Sluggish First Concerto, uneven but sometimes brilliant Seco
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 11/10/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)

"These analog performances predate Pollini's digital remakes by twenty years--the Brahms First under Bohm is from 1979, the Second under Abbado from 1976. I would go into detaialed comparison with the later verions, both under Abbado but with the Berlin Phil. instead of Vienna, except that there really isn't any comparison. DG's analog sound here is close on the piano, distant for the orchestra, but both sound veiled, and orchestral detail is murky. The remakes are in distinctly better sound and have the added impact of a live concert.

As to the performances themselves, Pollini improved on both works in the 19990's. Bohm offers a solid, unimaginative accompaniment in the First Concerto that seems to have affected Pollini--he shows hardly any of his usual dash and bravura. The slow movement is especially inert; the finale doesn't catch fire, either. By comparison, Abbado offers really splendid, vigorous accompaniment in the 1997 remake, and Pollini rises to the occasion there, giving one of the best Brahms Firsts on record.

As to the Second Concerto, which I like much better, Pollini's first version offers a wonderful opening movement with Abbado diecting the lushest orchestral tones imaginable and Pollini doing the same with his rounded, broad phrasing. Pollini's way with Brahms is always unhurried, deep, secure in tone. The muffled sonics detract from the overall impact, however. The Scerhzo is much less explosive than one sometimes hears (e.g., Richter in his classic RCA account with Leinsdorf) but all the better for that; Pollini is in comand without having to hector or bang. But then the last two movements sink into indifference. It's hard to get the second half of this concerto to make an impression equalling the first half. Pollini and Abbado don't seem to try very hard. A strange falling-off, but it doesn't matter, really, since their 1995 remake is so powerful, belonging in the first rank (where I'd also put Richter, Gilels with Reiner, Fleisher with Szell, nd one of my favorites, Barenboim with Barbirolli).

All in all, only a bargain if you absolutely have to save money, or if you relish the glorious collaboration of Pollini and the Vienna Phil. in the Second Cncerto."
There is no orchestra like WP
Leonardo | Argentina | 02/05/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Wiener Philarmoniker , or Vienna Philarmonic, is a truly wonderful orchestra. The crispy brass section, the sunny woodwinds, the noble string sonority ... a class in itself. Even with average conducting, one has to praise the level and sound the orchestra usually achieves in this repertoire. These Brahms pieces are part of its core, basic repertoire. In the piano concerto Pollini shows a truly great command of the keyboard together with a certain "objectivity" in his touch coupled with power and sensitivity when needed. The orchestra, I like most under Abbado. Bohm makes WP sound with majesty but sometimes underpowered. Balances under Bohm are focused on strings rather than winds, but I think that is a part of a "pre-historically informed practices" age. Strongly recommended unless you have a particular favourite of yours."
Bargain set; the First surpassing Gillel's with Jochum.
A. F. S. Mui | HK | 05/15/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I have always considered Gillels/Jochum's Brahms two concertos to be among the best in recorded performances.
However, upon listening to these two CDs, I must say that the First Concerto is miles ahead of Gillel and Jochum's version, though the Second Concerto may not be able to surpass Gillel's magnificient performance in that recording.
Pollini had a later recording of the First and Second with Abbado, which are even better: actually, the best of these works' recordings. However, I think for these earlier recordings with the VPO, it is still highly interesting and rewarding listening.
The Brahms No. 2 Concerto also appears in DVD format, but not the No. 1, which is a great shame, since Karl Boehm and Pollini had always been another pair of superb collaborators."