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Brahms: Late Piano Works, Vol. 3 / Rittner

Brahms / Rittner
Release Date: 07/12/2011 
Label:  Md&g (Dabringhaus & Grimm)   Catalog #: 9041680   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Hardy Rittner
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 14 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

As with previous volumes in his Brahms piano music cycle, Hardy Rittner utilizes excellently restored period instruments. One is a Johann Baptist Streicher salon grand model circa 1870, similar to the one that Brahms himself owned. The other is the largest concert grand manufactured by J. M. Schweighofer's Söhne between 1876 and 1877. Although they lack the sustaining resonance typical of modern pianos, the gentle, woodwind-like sonorities and timbral differences from register to register add welcome color and tonal diversity to Brahms' late piano pieces, and help clarify the contrapuntal trajectory and intimate sentiments embedded within the composer's sometimes gnarly textures.

Much of the credit must go to Rittner's
Read more cultivated virtuosity and musicianship. For example, the arpeggios in Op. 116 Nos. 3 and 7 that many pianists merely strum emerge with a refreshing sense of line and direction, while Rittner's eyedropper's worth of rubato in the same group's E major Intermezzo speaks louder than more pulled-about performances. The A major Op. 118 No. 2 Intermezzo similarly floats over the barline without losing rhythmic focus in the way that the undulating left-hand accompaniment and right-hand melodies converse. The same can be said for Rittner's telling accents and voicing shifts in the F minor Intermezzo (No. 4).

If Rittner's relative reserve and brisker than usual tempos for the three Op. 117 Intermezzi might strike some listeners as too matter-of-fact, he tastefully milks every ounce of anguish from the spare, starkly lit Op. 119 No. 1 Intermezzo. The roomy, slightly distant sonic image fills out to more three-dimensional effect when hearing this disc via surround-sound playback. Recommended.

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

1.
Fantasies (7) for Piano, Op. 116 by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Hardy Rittner (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1892; Austria 
Venue:  Ackerhaus der Abtei Marienmünster 
Length: 21 Minutes 5 Secs. 
2.
Intermezzi (3) for Piano, Op. 117 by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Hardy Rittner (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1892; Austria 
Venue:  Ackerhaus der Abtei Marienmünster 
Length: 14 Minutes 59 Secs. 
3.
Pieces (6) for Piano, Op. 118 by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Hardy Rittner (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1892; Austria 
Venue:  Ackerhaus der Abtei Marienmünster 
Length: 21 Minutes 4 Secs. 
4.
Pieces (4) for Piano, Op. 119 by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Hardy Rittner (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1892; Austria 
Venue:  Ackerhaus der Abtei Marienmünster 
Length: 14 Minutes 31 Secs. 

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