Great remastering of a deserved classic
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 08/23/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"David Hurwitz makes some silly comments in his Amazon review, but he's on target about ow good this CD is. Agreeing with all the accolades heaped on this 1962 recording of the Brahms First Concerto is easy, but not many reviewers here have captured what makes this performance special. Clifford Curzon never relied upon power and flash; he was a modest man and a scrupulous musician steeped in European style. His Brahms First is magical because he finds a sensitive, lyrical way of phrasing every bar. Instead of crashing and bagning, which even the best pianists are tempted to do in order to compete with Brahms' thick, overbearing orchestration, Curzon plays forcefully but without excessive bravura.
This proves a triumphant way to approach the thorny first movement, even in a field where sensitive readings from Barenboim and Fleisher, among others, also avoid showmanship and keyboard bagning. Curzon profound, inward reading is aided by Szell, who reins in the orchestral part--there's no attempt to make the noisy opening of the first movement storm the heavens. I'm grateful to discover such a singing performance, which has been captured in amazingly natural, life-like sound by Decca.
Note: This same coupling and remastering can be had in Decca's Legends series. I'd go for the cheapest copy I could find on the used market."