Notes and Editorial Reviews
What a debut! The Scherzo in E flat minor is the first exsisiting composition by Johannes Brahms, and its gloom and bizarre character go beyond even the no-joking-matter models set by Chopin.
Hardy Rittner has recorded this rarity on the fourth installment of his historical Brahms series – for the first time on a 240-centimeter Ignaz Bösendorfer grand piano from 1846. The biting tone of this instrument immediately gets under the skin and forms an exciting contrast to the two J. B. Streicher grand pianos.
The two Rhapsodies op. 79 get things going. Brahms would not have been Brahms if he had not composed these pieces with a compelling formal logic. The second rhapsody bears the heading “Molto passionato,” and
Hardy Rittner conjures magnificent passion out of the Streicher grand piano from 1868.
In the Piano Pieces op. 76 he spreads out a multicolored kaleidoscope ranging from melancholy to graceful charm and from dancy mirth to eerie gloom - it all is there and can be experienced with special immediacy on this historical instrument.
Brahms composed sixteen waltzes as his ticket to Viennese musical society and dedicated them to the feared critic Eduard Hanslick. This tactic paid off. Hanslick became Brahms’s most glowing admirer.
Rittner shows why this was so: simple on the surface, these exquisitely crafted waltzes create their own special cosmos of expressive colors with a wonderfully catchy tune, a racy Hungarian piece, and other masterful intricacies in three-four time.
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