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Customer Discussions > Classical Music forum

Brahms Piano Works

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Showing 1-25 of 81 posts in this discussion
In reply to an earlier post on Dec 25, 2012, 1:02:34 PM PST
scarecrow says:
My first Brahms was Julius Katchen; the Scherzo, and the rest of it, the Intermerzzi, Rhapsodies,;later I grew to like Wilhelm Kempf; and Paul Badura Skoda. . . . . then Claudio Arrau, and Richter always;

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 24, 2012, 5:06:23 AM PST
George says:
Thanks for the tip on Alexeev. I enjoy his Rachmaninov and haven't heard his Brahms.

Posted on Dec 24, 2012, 3:38:03 AM PST
Mandryka says:
Richter played all four op 119 pieces in 1992, I have a non commercial record of it.

Anyway, what struck me was the unity of it, he made it sound like a single work of four movements. Maybe others do too, but I hadn't noticed before.

Is that right? Did Brahms see op 119 as a single four movement work?

By the way, it's remarkable that Richter played all four parts of op 119. He very rarely played all the parts of a collection, something which makes me think that he was deliberately out to create an integrated performance.

Posted on Jun 13, 2011, 11:51:21 AM PDT
Edgar Self says:
MRS, the venerable Carl Friedberg has been mentioned eight or nine times in these discussions, always favorably, as the "search" feature here will show, but I knew Edith Picht-Axenfeld only as harpsichordist, thanks.

Posted on Jun 13, 2011, 11:40:31 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 13, 2011, 11:43:11 AM PDT
Wonderful Brahms by Edith Picht-Axenfeld. She seems to capture more than most others do of what the composer said about his Op. 117... that "even one listener is too many." So very warm, seasoned, and intimate.

Posted on Jun 13, 2011, 11:17:40 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Dec 25, 2012, 3:00:31 PM PST
One pianist who never gets mentioned is Edith Picht-Axenfeld. She was well into her 80s when she played her last concert, and the listener must make some allowances, but I find her playing of Brahms Op. 117 to be one of the most tender and insightful performances of these works I've ever heard: Edith Picht-Axenfeld: The Last Piano Concert (her Op. 118 and 119 have some occasional rough patches).

Another pianist who rarely gets mentioned, but is among my favorite Brahms players is Dmitri Bashkirov. This recording is a classic in my view: Bashkirov Plays Brahms: Piano Sonata No. 2; Intermezzi, Op.76/3, Op.117/1, Op.118/6; Capriccio, Op.76/2; Rapsodie, Op.79/2..

Nor does pianist Carl Friedberg ever get mentioned. Friedberg was a friend of Brahms, and Clara Schumann, but made his only recordings late in life: Carl Friedberg : the Brahms / Schumann Tradition.

Posted on Jun 13, 2011, 4:05:43 AM PDT
I recently added Elena Kuschnerova - playing op. 116, 117 118 & 119 - to my collection of Brahms piano works (which includes recordings by Gilels, Lupu Michelangeli, Kovacevich, Rubinstein & Gould). I find her performances very fine - deeply felt and autumnal in mood - somewhat like Lupu - but different.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 12, 2011, 10:50:42 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 12, 2011, 10:56:34 PM PDT
Mandryka says:
I'm enjoying some old stuff -- Erdman and Tiegerman. I was surprised how affecting I found the Erdman recording (just three short late pieces). I had discovered the Tiegerman ages ago -- he's very good in the Op 118 Romance, noble.

I want to hear Etelka Freund but the old Pearl recording is very expensive now. Can someone upload it for me and post the links? Charles maybe. I'll swap it for the Erdman. :)

I know she was old when she recorded the Handel variations, but this on youtube sounds extremely good to me:


I only have Oppitz playing the Paganini Variations. Someone sent it to me ages ago but I haven't bothered to play it. I'll play it and post a comment if I have one.

Posted on Jun 12, 2011, 1:31:45 PM PDT
Jim Sumner says:
Any thoughts on Oppitz's box set?

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 7, 2011, 4:04:05 AM PDT
Yes Mandryka, you are right and almost wish he'd taken a stab at the Paganini Variations. His earlier Brahms CD was better, particularly the Rhapsodies, Capriccio, even the late Intermezzo Op.118/6.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 6, 2011, 9:54:35 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 6, 2011, 9:56:04 AM PDT
Mandryka says:
Charles Andrew Whitehead says: It will be interesting to hear Murray Perahia's latest CD of Brahms Handel Variations, coming out later next month.

Slick, well recorded, unspontaneous; unimaginative; not recommended by me. I haven't listened to the short pieces yet.

Posted on Nov 9, 2010, 4:41:55 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 9, 2010, 4:42:56 PM PST
John Spinks says:
Grimaud's Erato disc of Gershwin and Ravel is a favorite for me.

Hélène Grimaud ~ Gershwin · Ravel - Piano Concertos

Oops. This is supposed to be a Brahms piano music thread. My goof.

Posted on Nov 7, 2010, 11:23:05 AM PST
The Denon Grimaud recordings were made when she was still a teenager--maybe as young as 15-16 years old, if I remember correctly. They showed tremendous promise and maturity for one so young. I remember her Kreisleriana was very interesting, and there was some good Liszt too, and Brahms sonatas and Rachmaninov. Of her Erato recordings, I've liked her late Brahms disc best, and it was well recorded too. This is one of the best discs I've heard from her. I probably should have mentioned it on my earlier list, as it's one of my 'digital' favorites, but I slightly prefer Dmitri Alexeev--who's a bit more autumnal and ruminative in these works. On the other hand, I've not been a huge fan of her DG years--particularly her Beethoven 5th PC in Dresden--well, the slow movement at least, which she plays too loudly and brusquely in my opinion, the very opposite of Arrau--disliked it a lot--though the outer movements really held my attention.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 6, 2010, 4:25:35 PM PDT
Edgar Self says:
Helene Grimaud plays a mean Appassionata, Mandryka, and is good on anything about wolves. I've seen here once in recital at which she played the Bach-Busoni chaconne twice.

Posted on Nov 6, 2010, 1:53:25 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Nov 6, 2010, 2:03:47 PM PDT
Mandryka says:
No. The Op 118 on Brilliant are recordings she made for Denon before the Erato recording. I haven't heard them yet -- I will do as they could be very good.

Thanks for pointing this out -- I didn't know about the Brilliant box. It looks as though she recorded Op 118 three times -- Denon, Erato and DG.

The one I like is this one -- Hélène Grimaud ~ Brahms - Piano Pieces Op. 116-119

Posted on Nov 6, 2010, 1:37:49 PM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on May 16, 2012, 1:38:26 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 6, 2010, 11:47:01 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Nov 6, 2010, 12:25:09 PM PDT
Mandryka says:
Helen Grimaud has recorded late Brahms pieces twice.

For years I only knew the one on DG. It's very poor. Monochromatic, drab, meaningless. A waste of time and space.

But then I noticed that she had made an earlier recording of the same material for Erato.

This earlier recording is one of the great Brahms performances on record - original in conception, highly dramatic, deeply felt, colourful, with a revealing and poetic respect for Brahms's left hand music.

What a contrast between Erato and DG.

I don't know much about this pianist - if there are any other outstanding records then let me know. I'm reluctant to try the other DG records given the awfulness of the Brahms one.

But the Erato shows, I think, that she had a moment of genius at least.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 31, 2010, 7:07:16 PM PDT
Edgar Self says:
Good list and comments, Mandryka. Now you need only Pogorelich's incredibly beautiful Brahms disc on DGG, if only for the C# minor Intermezzo Op. 117 Nr. 3 to, er, enshrine beside Gould's and Rubinstein's. I have Yudina also. Force of nature is barely adequate. She STILL looks like Edward Arnold in drag ...

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 31, 2010, 1:26:42 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 31, 2010, 1:30:24 PM PDT
Ahmad says:
William Yate,
I second you in Gilels' interpretation of Op.116 . I can't imagine a better interpretation of my favorite two pieces Op.116 Nos. 2 & 5, especially the quirky No.5.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 31, 2010, 11:54:18 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 31, 2010, 12:05:34 PM PDT
Mandryka says:
I put together a playlist today with a large handful Op 118/6s on it - it's quite striking the variety of styles in this piece. As usual.

We had - Lupu, Rubinstein (a very early recording), Kempff (1950s), Afanassiev, Richter (twice - Hungary and Leipzig), Yudina, Gieseking, Ranki, Nichols Angelich, Van Cliburn, Gould, Grimaud and Zilberstien.

None of them were turkeys. Some were excellent performances but maybe not very interesting. Ranki, Angelich, Zilbersiien.

Others made good poetry - Gieseking, Kempff, Rubinstein, Gould, Grimaud, Van Cliburn and Richter in Leipzig . You can hear these guys love Brahms and they make very amusing and enjoyable music.

Some were so strange that I need more time to understand what they were up to - Afanassiev is like this. A noble interpretation but just so different, I wonder what he thinks this music is about.

The ones that sort of leapt out and said "hey - this music really matters" were Yudina and Richter in 1954 in Hungary.

Brutal Yudina. The only way of describing what she does is by lapsing into clichés and metaphors - granite, tidal wave, force of nature . . .

Richter in 1954 is so poetic it's unbelievable. He makes the intermezzo tell a story - terrible anguish followed by unchained wildness followed by something which I can't find the words for - stillness maybe.

Posted on Oct 30, 2010, 8:09:52 PM PDT
Edgar Self says:
Teresa Carreno, pianist, composer, conductor, novelist, and opera singer, used to walk little Claudio Arrau by the hand to his lessons with her teacher, Krause, in Northern Germany, Hamburg I think. Edwin Fischer also studied with him. Claudio, grown to man's estate, never forgot her and remained eternally grateful for all his life. They were two of the first prominent South American pianists, with Rosita Renard from Chile. Now Brasil alone produces enough pianists to staff several world competitions, and we have Argerich, Barenboim, Lima, Martins, Novaes, Szidon, Mignone, Nazareth, Freire, Magda Tagliaferro, and many another. In exchange we sent them Louis Moreau Gottschalk, who became a favourite of Dom Pedro II, last Emperior of Brasil (was it?).

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 30, 2010, 8:01:57 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 30, 2010, 8:02:34 PM PDT
John Ruggeri says:
Another artist who comes through excellently on Piano Roles was: Teresa Carreño.

(Caracas, 1853 - Nueva York, 1917) Pianista venezolana. (Caracas, 1853 - New York, 1917) Venezuelan pianist. . She received his early musical training in Caracas by the hand of her father, Manuel Antonio Carreño, and Julius Hohen. . In 1862 she moved with her parents to New York City, where she offered, before she was nine years old, hers first public recital. She was invited to perform before President Abraham Lincoln in the White House.

Teresa Carreño, Pianist
Bedrich Smetana (Composer), Franz Liszt (Composer), Frederic Chopin (Composer), Ludwig van Beethoven (Composer), Teresa Carreno (Composer), Teresa Carreño (Performer)

Number of Discs: 1
Label: Pierian
Claudio Arrau named her as his favorite piansit and claimed her octaves were better then those of Horowitz who was NOT on CA's top ten.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 30, 2010, 5:19:00 PM PDT
Edgar Self says:
Lark, the piano rolls of Josef Lhevinne, Moriz Rosenthal, Rachmaninoff, Ervin Nyiregyhazi, Elly Ney, and Alfred Cortot are invaluable for extending and confirming their discographies. The first three are particularly successful, and one of Cortot's, Chabrier's "Idylle" is so good I would never take it for a roll.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 30, 2010, 10:01:44 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Oct 30, 2010, 10:03:31 AM PDT]

Posted on Oct 30, 2010, 3:26:50 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 30, 2010, 5:57:12 PM PDT
Okay, where to go next: I'm leaning toward the piano sonatas, particularly no. 3. Recommendations please? What would be the top three recordings?
I highly recommend Edwin Fisher's performance of Sonata No. 3 on Nimbus Records Grand Piano Series: Brahms. Shows what a true master Fisher was -- he and Brahms sound truly made for each other in a performance of great richness and depth. Fisher's performance is from a reproducing piano and I find his playing indistinguishable from a live performance - recorded in digital sound rather than having to listen to it from a scratchy mono recording... These reproducing pianos were the marvels of their age and many of the greats played on them: Cortot, Rubenstein, Horowitz, Bauer, Granados, Prokofiev, Grainger, Paderewski and numerous others, because they thought so highly of them, and left a tremendous legacy of their performances. I have no affiliation with Nimbus but have a number of their Grand Piano series of great piano masters from the first half of the century and I'm fascinated by the amount of sheer personality that is evident behind each performance that contributes rather than interferes with their interpretations. I think such an identifiable force of personality was perhaps more typical of this earlier part of the century.


I'd also like to put in a good word for Claudio Arrau's performances of the Brahms Piano Concertos with Bernard Haitink on Philips. I've listened to them a number of times over the years with great satisfaction in well recorded performances and the deep feeling that both Arrau and Haitink bring to Brahms.

Brahms: Piano Concertos (complete); Overtures (complete); Haydn Variations ~ Arrau
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Discussion in:  Classical Music forum
Participants:  19
Total posts:  81
Initial post:  Oct 26, 2010
Latest post:  Dec 25, 2012

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