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Brahms: The Piano Concertos

Brahms / Israel Philharmonic Orch / Mehta
Release Date: 03/08/2011 
Label:  Helicon   Catalog #: 9636   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Johannes BrahmsJohann Strauss Jr.Franz SchubertLudwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Rudolf Buchbinder
Conductor:  Zubin Mehta
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 43 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

In and of themselves Rudolf Buchbinder's live Brahms concerto collaborations with Zubin Mehta and the Israel Philharmonic stand out for superb execution, stylish power, and fluid soloist/orchestra integration. However, the question remains: how do they compare with Buchbinder's remarkable versions with Nikolaus Harnoncourt and the Concertgebouw Orchestra, which remain a modern-day point of reference?

You may prefer the new D minor first movement's more conventionally animated basic tempos; yet the markedly slower Harnoncourt version's unrelenting intensity yields a higher level of exactitude and detail, such as in Buchbinder's more scrupulously measured trills and the stronger brass presence. Both versions' Rondo finales are
Read more equally vigorous and supple, but Harnoncourt's superior ear for detail wins the day (the bassoon counterline underneath the opening piano solo, for instance).

I marginally prefer Mehta's B-flat concerto finale over Harnoncourt for its warmer string tone and more judicious solo/orchestra balance, plus more direct phrasing on Buchbinder's part. The pianist also shapes the Andante's contrapuntal climaxes and declamatory trills more impetuously here than with Harnoncourt, although the latter recording finds Buchbinder exerting less effort over the first movement's opening cadenza and the second movement's sotto voce legato octaves.

The sonics are finer than usual for a live, archival recording, despite a high level of audience noise. Along with two well-played Schubert and Beethoven encores, Buchbinder brilliantly serves up one of his unsuspected specialties in the form of Alfred Grünfeld's frothy and quite difficult Die Fledermaus paraphrase. Those who collect multiple Brahms piano concerto recordings surely will want to investigate this release, but the Buchbinder/Harnoncourt cycle's superior sonics and formidable interpretive profile remain first priority.

--Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

Concerto for Piano no 1 in D minor, Op. 15 by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Rudolf Buchbinder (Piano)
Conductor:  Zubin Mehta
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1854-1858; Germany 
Venue:  Mann Auditorium, Tel-Aviv, Israel 
Length: 42 Minutes 8 Secs. 
Concerto for Piano no 2 in B flat major, Op. 83 by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Rudolf Buchbinder (Piano)
Conductor:  Zubin Mehta
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1878-1881; Austria 
Venue:  Mann Auditorium, Tel-Aviv, Israel 
Length: 44 Minutes 10 Secs. 
Die Fledermaus: Excerpt(s) by Johann Strauss Jr.
Performer:  Rudolf Buchbinder (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1874; Vienna, Austria 
Venue:  Mann Auditorium, Tel-Aviv, Israel 
Length: 4 Minutes 49 Secs. 
Impromptus (4) for Piano, D 899/Op. 90: no 4 in A flat major by Franz Schubert
Performer:  Rudolf Buchbinder (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1827; Vienna, Austria 
Venue:  Mann Auditorium, Tel-Aviv, Israel 
Length: 6 Minutes 29 Secs. 
Sonata for Piano no 8 in C minor, Op. 13 "Pathétique": 3rd movement, Rondo by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Rudolf Buchbinder (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1797-1798; Vienna, Austria 
Venue:  Mann Auditorium, Tel-Aviv, Israel 
Length: 4 Minutes 33 Secs. 

Sound Samples

Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 15: I. Maestoso
Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 15: II. Adagio
Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 15: III. Rondo: Allegro non troppo
Piano concerto No. 2 in B-Flat Major, Op. 83: I. Allegro non troppo
Piano concerto No. 2 in B-Flat Major, Op. 83: II. Allegro appassionato
Piano concerto No. 2 in B-Flat Major, Op. 83: III. Andante
Piano concerto No. 2 in B-Flat Major, Op. 83: IV. Allegretto grazioso
Die Fledermaus
Impromptu D.899 No.4 in A-Flat
Piano Sonata No. 8 in C Minor, Op. 13 - "Pathetique": Rondo: Allegro

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