Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat; Ballades, Op. 10

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COMPOSERS: Brahms
LABELS: DG
WORKS: Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat; Ballades, Op. 10
PERFORMER: Emil Gilels (piano)Berlin PO/Eugen Jochum
CATALOGUE NO: 439 466-2 ADD (1972/76)
Gilels and Jochum are two of the best Brahms interpreters you could hope to find – and their performance here of the mighty Second Piano Concerto bears this out to the full. It’s not only powerful and passionate, but tender, thoughtful and richly coloured.

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Gilels’s tone glows; although the piano sound is big, it never comes across as harsh but is always beautifully cushioned. There’s also a wonderful sense that this is actually large-scale chamber music – especially in the duet with Ottomar Borwitzky’s beautiful cello solo in the slow movement. In the early Ballades which complete the disc, Gilels particularly brings out the dark, introverted side of the music in a highly rewarding interpretation. Jessica Duchen