Notes and Editorial Reviews
Rising pianist Ekaterina Litvintseva writes of this release in which she performs Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor Op. 15: “From a technical and musical perspective, it is one of the hardest concertos ever written! What clearly distinguishes it from other concertos is its symbiosis of orchestra and pianist. What I mean is that the orchestra and pianist are very closely interlinked so as to give the concerto a thoroughly symphonic complexion. It is known that Brahms originally conceived the work as a symphony. It stands to reason, therefore, that this work should sound symphonic. The task set before the pianist when tackling this work is a very tall order, namely the challenge of playing a 50-minute concerto and, throughout every minute, immersing oneself in the music without losing sight of the overall picture. A useful analogy might be to imagine a mountainous landscape and, whilst enjoying the harmony and unity of the mountains, also to observe their slightest elevations and hollows. I believe that nature abounds in this work, as if I were to breathe in the fresh mountain air, feel its vigor and visualize scenic colors. I have put so much time and energy into this concerto. By giving so many concerts, I was able to thoroughly immerse myself in the music and experiment with it 13 times. So I think I’m justified in saying that it has become my concerto.“
She conceives the solo part from the bottom up, meaning that pliable bass lines and harmonically aware phrasing dominate her interpretation, especially in the first movement’s lyrical unaccompanied sequences and in the slow movement’s left-hand accompaniment.
Tempos are conservative but not overly broad, full of flexibility and animation. This undoubtedly contributes to the effect of Litvintseva’s carefully gauged climaxes and long-lined projection. However, the Klassische Philharmonie Bonn’s small forces and relatively underpowered strings cannot match the tonal heft and roaring impact of a full orchestra.
– ClassicsToday (Jed Distler)