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Because the two Brahms piano concertos have been recorded so often, not enough new liisteners may know about this 1967 set from Barenboim and Barbirolli. These are grand, broad readings--the Second Concerto in particular is among the slowest on record. Don't mistake that for lack of drama. Barenboim throws himself into every note, and the sympathy between conductor and soloist reaches very deep emotionally (Gilels and Jochum, also slow, sound ponderous and "official" by comparison.) Barbirolli and Barenboim give themselves time to phrase with great expressivity, but what really keeps the tempo from lagging is Barenboim's powerful pianism, abetted by EMI's under-the-lid miking. There's not a seocnd when the piano sound isn't two inches from your ears--it's as thrilling as sitting on the bench beside Barenboim. Barbirolli captures the Jovial essence of the Academic Festival Over. quite wonderfully, as he does the dark drama of the Tragic Over.
Nothing here is less than memorable. If you want to hear Brahms interpreted very personally, as if he really matters, this set is one of a kind.
Awhile back during my obsession with Brahms' first piano concerto in D minor, I had a soft spot for my old vinyl recording by these artists. Im not a big fan of Daniel Barenboim, but his interpretation of this elusive concerto is magnificent. From the entry of the piano in the first movement, through the gentle meditations of the second, and the triumphant finale, both soloist and orchestra capture the mystery, pathos and epic tension all embodied in this work. Read William Carlos Williams poem about this concerto, and listen to this recording with fresh ears. You will be startled anew.
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