Notes and Editorial Reviews
Hard on the heels of the Brahms F minor from 2003 Leeds winner Antti Siirala comes another, from the 1997 Van Cliburn winner. That makes a total of 41 Brahms F minors currently available at a record shop near you. Is Jon Nakamatsu's better, equally good or worse than any of the other 40? The answer, perhaps inevitably, is 'it's fine, but not startlingly so'. I liked his clarion-clear tone and precision in the first movement and finale (the unburdening outburst of the latter's coda slightly more reticent than Siirala's) but, despite a sensitive handling of the Andante's opening cantando espressivo passage, I could have wished for a little more deviation from the bright primary colours he produces.
After the very public F minor
come the piano pieces, composed in 1892 and 1893 respectively, nearly 40 years after the Sonata. This, to me, is essentially private music, more suited to home performance than sharing and projecting in a concert hall. Nakamatsu is scrupulous in his attention to nuance and dynamic markings, but his clinical sound militates against warm, lyrical introspection: I was impressed but uninvolved. Again, the paying customer is not short of choice, from Kempff and Katchen (my favourite) to Kovacevich and Kissin, but Nakamatsu's coupling may be the deciding factor (Siirala offers the 16 Waltzes, Op 39). The piano is superbly recorded, and there is an excellent booklet-note by George Gelles.
-- Jeremy Nicholas, Gramophone [12/2004]
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