LABELS: RCA Victor Red Seal
WORKS: Double Concerto in A minor; Triple Concerto in C
PERFORMER: Pinchas Zukerman (violin), Ralph Kirshbaum (cello), John Browning (piano); LSO/Christoph Eschenbach
CATALOGUE NO: 09026 68964 2
Since its debut in 1887, Brahms’s last orchestral work has attracted its unfair share of doubters who wonder if they’re really getting two for the price of one. In fact, they’re getting one of a kind: Brahms in his ripest vein tackling a form and sonority almost untouched in the 19th century, Brahms the Progressive.
Zukerman and Kirshbaum certainly find no problem with the work, lighting the fire of its lyricism – the slow movement especially – with fine tone and united purpose in this warmly recorded performance. Unlike the lyricism of the Fourth Symphony, that of the Double Concerto is not a vision tragically unobtainable. Nothing is more natural in this A minor piece than the last-minute switch to the tonic major, victory snatched from the jaws of defeat.
With pianist John Browning, these soloists make Beethoven’s Triple Concerto, like his Seventh Symphony, an apotheosis of the dance. Their journey is from the first movement’s strutting march to the third movement’s soaring polonaise, via the slow movement’s radiant visions. It’s not an easy work to do well, but this trio succeeds, with Eschenbach in firm command of the LSO. Nicholas Williams