Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Johannes Brahms, Elisabeth Leonskaja|
Brahms: Piano Music op. 116-119
Listen to Samples
Jeff D. Wolf | Abilene, TX | 10/12/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Excellence of performance, recording, and programming are ideally combined in this 80-plus minute CD. I didn't think Radu Lupu's Decca/London recording of Brahms's Op. 117-119 pieces could ever be matched, but Leonskaja and MDG may even be better. And it is no small "filler" that Leonskaja's recital begins with the complete Op. 116, which are also performed and recorded superbly. The extensive, informative liner notes are an added bonus. I can't imagine how this CD could possibly be better -- and considering that it contains some of the most sublime solo piano music composed by anyone in any era, it automatically goes to the top tier of most-easily recommended discs."
* * * 1/2 Very good, very Romantic, but a little self-consc
John Grabowski | USA | 10/19/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I love these pieces of Brahms. It's nice to have them all on one well-stuffed disc, recorded in stunningly realistic sound. But pianist Elizabeth Leonskaja's interpretations are sometimes just a little too self-conscious for my taste. These are deep works that on the surface are very simple. Rather than dig, Leonskaja often just pushes some unneeded rubato into the pieces, somewhat distending Brahms' structures and disturbing the rhythmic flows. It all sounds too de-li-ber-ate in spots. In her effort to ravish you, she misses some essential elements. Just listen, for example to her phrasing at about 2:00 in her reading of Op. 118's Intermezzo (fourth piece). While I'd still prefer this approach to someone like Kempff (DG), who plays these with so little feeling, I still find the overall best, at least on recordings, to be Stephen Kovacevich, believe it or not. He finds the right balance between head and heart, between sentiment and sentimentality, so as not to overperfume these delicate creations. And delicate they are. Brahms near the end of his life became, as many old men do, less fiery and more mellow and reflective. His last pieces feel like we are looking at someone's private diary of their deepest reflections and summations. These works, and the Fourth Symphony, the Clarinet Quintet, and the Clarinet Sonatas, are among his most unique. Too bad they rarely get first-class interpretations. So many musicians play the notes, but the personal qualities are missing. From Grimaud to Lupu to Angelich, there is so much late Brahms playing to avoid out there. (I exclude Gould. He was governed by a different aesthetic all together; whether it works or not is your call.)
This CD is one of the better ones, but the absolutely definitive recording of these works has yet to be made. For the life of me I can't think of who I'd like to see make it, either. Where have all the really great Brahms players gone?