Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 2 ; Variations on a Theme of Paganini; Hungarian Dances

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Brahms
LABELS: Mirare
WORKS: Piano Concerto No. 2 ; Variations on a Theme of Paganini; Hungarian Dances
PERFORMER: Boris Berezovsky (piano); Ural Philharmonic Orchestra/Dmitri Liss
CATALOGUE NO: Mirare MIR 132

Advertisement

Boris Berezovsky has proved his high quality in all kinds of repertoire, but this recording of Brahms’s Piano Concerto No. 2 failed to live up to my expectations. His technique is equal to any of the severe challenges that Brahms sets the soloist, and there is some exciting playing.

But there seems to me a lack of emotional involvement, except perhaps in the Andante, and the comparative sense of gravitas that comes across there is as much the achievement of the (uncredited) solo cellist as Berezovsky. The Ural Philharmonic is likewise efficient rather than inspired. With current rivals including a wonderful 1966 Arthur Rubinstein performance, not to mention the likes of Stephen Kovacevich or Alfred Brendel, this account of the Concerto is principally of interest to Berezovsky fans.

Advertisement

For the fillers Berezovsky gives us a spirited but unremarkable account of the Paganini Variations but plays only the second book, which is allowable but leaves me feeling short-changed. Certainly the Variations display his truly impressive technical command. But only in the three Hungarian Dances, played with delightful rhythmic freedom and élan, did I feel that there was real engagement and enjoyment. Calum MacDonald