Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat

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COMPOSERS: Brahms
LABELS: Philips Solo
WORKS: Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat
PERFORMER: Alfred Brendel (piano) Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra/Bernard Haitink
CATALOGUE NO: 456 659-2 ADD 1974
Brendel and Haitink are a dream team for Brahms’s titanic Second Piano Concerto. It’s a wonderfully vigorous and rhetorical interpretation; Haitink’s tempi are superb, with ‘gear changes’ particularly impressively handled, and Brendel brings a kind of primal energy to the piano part.

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At times – such as the trio of the second movement – he seems to want to squeeze even more out of the piano than it can give, though this latter impression may be affected by the less than perfect sound quality of this 1974 recording which sounds older than it actually is. Particular casualties of this are the piano’s treble register and the oboe. Jessica Duchen