Legendary Brahms 2nd Concerto Performance
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is the third format that I have of this performance: tape from 78's that I edited, the French HMV COLH performance and now the Pearl. The Pearl has cleaned up some of the noise and made an all ready outstanding performance better but the sound could still be improved as EMI managed to do with the Beethoven Sonatas. Schnabel had a way of clustering passages and that is apparant through out this work. His performance is well backed by Boult and the LSO with the final moments of the 2nd movement being a prime example. Here Schnabel rushes towards the end of the movement with the orchestra keeping up with him. One has to wonder if this was just the way Schnabel wanted to perform this part of the movement or if time was running out on the 78 RPM master?This was a work that was part of Schnabel's repetoire. He performed it any number of times with this recording giving us an idea of what those live performances must have been like. He sometimes clusters his passages and appears to be rushing but everything is clearly heard. Tempi can also be brisk at times particularly in the 2nd movement. Brahms wants this movement to be "Allegro Appassionato". Schnabel does just that even at the tempo he selects. If you are looking for a Romantic performance this might not be your choice. Schnabel does show some emotion but he never over does it. (For a contrast the Zimerman/Bernstein recording is an example of over indulgence of Romaniticizing). The third movement is well done with a good balance between the cello soloist and pianist. One must also remember that this was - for all practical purposes - a live performance with its good and bad points. The good points include the fact that what you hear is what was played. The bad points are that a dropped note or two by soloists or orchestral players are going to happen but so what! This is music, not a spliced together attempt to re-create what passes as a "picture perfect performance".The Bach is most enjoyable with son, Karl Ulrich. Listen to the third movement and how well father and son worked together. The orchestra is a little heavy on the bass. In comparison with the tape of original 78's I can not recall that they had the same problem. The pity is that we still lack much of Schnabel's repetoire that he never commercially recorded. Moreover dropping the d minor Concerto that Schnabel recorded with the London Philharmonic, George Szell conducting seems to defy logic. Hopefully this recording will again be released so that both of Schnabel's Brahms Concerti recordings will once again be available."