Emanuel Ax performs Brahms
For many reasons I have great admiration for Johannes Brahms. I have recently re-read his biography, and I continue to learn more fascinating things about this great man. After all, here’s a composer who lived in the shadow of Beethoven! Think about the guts it took to introduce a new Piano Concerto to the Viennese public in the late-1800’s, when the rage of the times was Beethoven’s genius. Brahms knew what a challenge that was. After all, he withheld the publication of his first symphony for many years, until he felt that the work was really ready. But now on to these 2 CD’s of Brahms’ piano music:
The first CD opens with the unique Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor performed with the Chicago Symphony under the direction of James Levine. Emanuel Ax plays it beautifully, with Levine providing strong support from the orchestra and yet allowing the lyricism of the Adagio to be the magic of Ax’s performance. The second CD features a recording of the Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major with Bernard Haitink collaborating with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. The elegant phrasing of Ax’s playing is a wonderful match for the amazing inventiveness of Brahms’ work. Every pianist is keenly aware that the composer was a renowned pianist in his day, and Ax meets this challenge by letting us into every nuance of this music.
The other delights on these two discs are works for solo piano. Especially successful are the Three Intermezzi Op.117; however, the Rhapsodies Op. 79 and the Four Pieces for Piano Op. 119 are equally sensitively performed. This is a superb collection of Brahms’ piano works, with performances that are highly recommended.
If you wish to purchase and/or listen to samples, go to: