Brahms – Piano Concerto No. 3 in D

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COMPOSERS: Brahms
LABELS: Channel
WORKS: Piano Concerto No. 3 in D (arr. Lazi´c from Violin Concerto); 2 Rhapsodies, Op. 79; Scherzo in E flat minor, Op. 4
PERFORMER: Dejan Lazic (piano); Atlanta SO/Robert Spano
CATALOGUE NO: CCS SA 29410

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 Much of the booklet is taken up with Dejan Lazi´c’s justification for making this arrangement in the first place, which comes down to the fact that wanted to be able to play it himself. Romantic composers may have had a propensity for recasting music in different forms and guises, but they usually did it with some imagination. Here there’s little more than thickening of the solo line, with some pianistic clichés done to death.

I was getting thoroughly fed up with rolling arpeggios that attempt to recapture the excitement of the violin passagework: the very first solo entry has none of the theatrical presence of the original. Mind you, Robert Spano’s workaday orchestral introduction doesn’t create much tension, and the live recording lacks real presence and depth.

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In the slow movement, Lazi´c’s additions to the bass line muddy Brahms’s carefully wrought textures, sometimes doubling orchestral parts, or else reinforcing the harmonies unnecessarily. However, it’s in the finale, where the Hungarian flavour of the music cries out for the double-stopping and varied bowing attacks of the violin, that the arrangement is at its most ineffective. Steer clear. Martin Cotton