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  • Brahms: Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 2 / Handel Variations, Op. 24 / Waltzes, Op. 39
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Brahms: Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 2 / Handel Variations, Op. 24 / Waltzes, Op. 39 Original recording remastered, Original recording reissued


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Audio CD, Original recording remastered, Original recording reissued, October 14, 1997
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Brahms: Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 2 / Handel Variations, Op. 24 / Waltzes, Op. 39 + Piano Concertos
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Product Details

  • Performer: Leon Fleisher
  • Orchestra: Cleveland Orchestra
  • Conductor: George Szell
  • Composer: Johannes Brahms
  • Audio CD (October 14, 1997)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Original recording remastered, Original recording reissued
  • Label: Sony
  • ASIN: B0000029YK
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,379 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Disc: 1
1. Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor, Op. 15: I. Maestoso
2. Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor, Op. 15: II. Adagio
3. Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor, Op. 15: III. Rondo. Allegro non troppo
4. Variations (25) and Fugue on a Theme of Handel, for piano, in B flat major, Op. 24: Aria
5. Variations (25) and Fugue on a Theme of Handel, for piano, in B flat major, Op. 24: Variation I
6. Variations (25) and Fugue on a Theme of Handel, for piano, in B flat major, Op. 24: Variation II
7. Variations (25) and Fugue on a Theme of Handel, for piano, in B flat major, Op. 24: Variation III
8. Variations (25) and Fugue on a Theme of Handel, for piano, in B flat major, Op. 24: Variation IV: Risoluto
9. Variations (25) and Fugue on a Theme of Handel, for piano, in B flat major, Op. 24: Variation V: Espressivo
10. Variations (25) and Fugue on a Theme of Handel, for piano, in B flat major, Op. 24: Variation VI
See all 30 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat major, Op. 83: I. Allegro non troppo
2. Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat major, Op. 83: II. Allegro appassionato
3. Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat major, Op. 83: III. Andante
4. Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat major, Op. 83: IV. Allegretto grazioso
5. Waltzes (16) for piano, 4 hands (or piano), Op. 39: No. 1 in B Major, Tempo giusto
6. Waltzes (16) for piano, 4 hands (or piano), Op. 39: No. 2 in E Major
7. Waltzes (16) for piano, 4 hands (or piano), Op. 39: No. 3 in G-sharp Minor
8. Waltzes (16) for piano, 4 hands (or piano), Op. 39: No. 4 in E Minor. Poco sostenuto
9. Waltzes (16) for piano, 4 hands (or piano), Op. 39: No. 5 in E Major
10. Waltzes (16) for piano, 4 hands (or piano), Op. 39: No. 6 in C-sharp Major. Vivace
See all 20 tracks on this disc

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

Wow! George Szell owned the First Piano Concerto. He played the opening movement like no one else, and he recorded the work with three outstanding pianists: Sir Clifford Curzon, Rudolf Serkin, and this performance with Anton Fleischer. When I say this is the best of the three, I'm making a tough choice, but Fleischer brings a youthful vigor and rage to the music that complements Szell's fiery accompaniment so well that they sound like they're both performing from the same musical brain. The Second Concerto is a gentler work, but it's played with no less vigor and dash. Along with the Emil Gilels/Eugen Jochum performances on DG, these are the Brahms piano concertos to have above all others. --David Hurwitz

Product Description

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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See all 37 customer reviews
I recommend this album to any serious collector.
Thomas J. Fennell
If not as earth-shaking as the earlier recording, it remains an excellent version of the Brahms second concerto.
Robin Friedman
And I really enjoy listening to this performance, since it is so good.
James the Reviewer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

55 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Allan Brain on April 5, 2000
Format: Audio CD
Leon Fleisher was a major youthful talent, not to say"prodigy" in the '40s and '50s. Largely accompanied by theCleveland Orchestra and Szell, he recorded many of the greatest concertos for piano--all five Beethoven concertos in a set that was a best seller for years, the Schumann and Grieg concertos, and the two Brahms concertos. The Brahms are the best piano concertos ever written, I think, because they are endlessly inventive, always interesting musically and emotionally, and are showpieces not just for the piano, but also the orchestra. Fleisher and Szell are perfect partners in these works--one never gets the idea that either musician is showing off, yet these works are written such that there are sometimes what seem to be struggles, even combat, between the orchestra and the piano. (Just try listening to the second movement of the Brahms second concerto, and you will hear this.) That is the nature of the compositions, and that is among the reasons these particular performances work so well. Also included in this release are some solo works by Brahms, recorded in the mid-'50s. As one of the Sony "Heritage" releases, the package contains interesting information about the original recording sessions, photographs, and facsimiles of the original LP jackets.
I highly recommend this set and wish Sony would come out with a Fleisher edition; this is a wonderful artist who would have had a stellar career if he had not had the misfortune to suffer from the neurological problem directly related to his playing (carpal tunnel syndrome is a repetitive stress injury) at the peak of his career and at a time when classical music was still promoted even on prime-time television.
One can only admire Fleisher for his dedication and determination to continue his career in music.
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Scott D. Harris on December 11, 2000
Format: Audio CD
The Brahms concertos represent the summit of pianistic/orchestral combination in many respects and a listener to these performances would undoubtedly comprehend this statement, even if not musically trained. Szell and Fleischer make an effective team and one is happy Sony has rescued these performance gems from the archives.
The 1st Concerto dates from 1958 and is in surprisingly good sound for its age (actually somewhat preferable to the 2nd - more on that in a moment) and opens with an appropriately weighty flourish. Throughout Szell and Fleischer move through the concerto at a moderate pace with some, though not an overly great level of tonal muscularity. Perhaps the best way to describe this playing is to characterize it as Romantic writing played with an almost Classical feel and, at times, restraint. The Cleveland Orchestra is outstanding.
The 2nd Concerto, dated 4 years later in 1962, is also a successful performance though with an altered sound picture. Much less reverberance and an up-close sound stage make this a slighly less enjoyable performance. Severance Hall, the recording location, underwent renovation at the direction of Szell in late 1958-59 (after the recording of the 1st Concerto) but from this recording, the cure might have been worse than the disease. The performance is also tightly played, though certainly not without drama (2nd movement) and, once again, with a classical air. Cello contribution in the 3rd movement is very fine.
The Handel Variations and Waltzes (mono sound) make great, unusual couplings and show Fleischer's virtuosity favorably.
I'd recommend these performances to any Brahmsian and to any admirer of Szell/Cleveland Orchestra as they clearly demonstrate the excellence to which both were capable.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Robin Friedman HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 18, 2006
Format: Audio CD
The American pianist Leon Fleisher (b. 1928) had extraordinary attainments when his performing career was interrupted by an ailment to his right hand at the age of 37. Fleisher continued peforming with his left hand and became a distinguished teacher and conductor of chamber ensembles. In 2004, he began playing the piano again with both hands.

Fleisher is best-known for the remarkable recordings of the Beethoven and Brahms concertos made during his prime, in the late 1950s and early 1960s, with George Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra. This double CD is a reissue of Fleisher's recordings of the two Brahms piano concertos. It includes as well Fleisher's performances of two Brahms works for solo piano: the Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel, Op. 24, and the Waltzes, Op. 39. This is a glorious CD for lovers of Brahms.

The highlight of the collection is Brahms's piano concerto no. 1 in D minor, opus 15. Although I offer a minority opinion, I have always responded more deeply to this passionate, stormy work of Brahms's young manhood than to the more famous second concerto that he wrote over 20 years later. In Brahms's earlier music personal feeling predominates over the structure, learning and formalism of the works of the composer's later years.

The first concerto is a large, bravura work in the romantic tradition, deeply indebted to Robert Schumann and Beethoven. I have always loved the long rhapsodic passages for the solo piano in the opening movement. Brahms initially conceived the work as a symphony but transformed the work into a concerto at the recommendations of friends. During its first performances, the work was booed and hissed. It received recognition only late in Brahms's career.
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