Brahms: Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 2

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - C. Ryan Hill
When he announced in 2004 that he was stepping down as music director from the Royal Concertgebouw, easily one of the best orchestras in the world, it would have been easy for anyone to brand Riccardo Chailly as clinically insane. His announcement stunned the music world. The young, passionate Chailly had succeeded in bringing a new energy and vitality to the Concertgebouw during his impressive 16-year tenure. What was this 51-year-old, barely middle-aged by conducting standards maestro on to? Where do you go when you're on top of the world? The Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra? The answer seemed as confusing as the question. This was certainly a surprise. The orchestra, ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - C. Ryan Hill
When he announced in 2004 that he was stepping down as music director from the Royal Concertgebouw, easily one of the best orchestras in the world, it would have been easy for anyone to brand Riccardo Chailly as clinically insane. His announcement stunned the music world. The young, passionate Chailly had succeeded in bringing a new energy and vitality to the Concertgebouw during his impressive 16-year tenure. What was this 51-year-old, barely middle-aged by conducting standards maestro on to? Where do you go when you're on top of the world? The Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra? The answer seemed as confusing as the question. This was certainly a surprise. The orchestra, widely touted as the oldest around, had to confront an interesting dichotomy: a rich, cultural heritage with a set of performance traditions dating back to its most famous, historical conductor, composer Felix Mendelssohn, but all poised against past problems with their stature, performance consistency, and funding. Chailly reveled in the challenge; a self-proclaimed orchestra-builder, he knew better than anyone that he could get results. The fruits of Chailly's labors have revealed themselves early on; now there are two recordings issued by Decca to prove it. The first, in homage to Mendelssohn, consisted of "A Midsummer Nights Dream" and the "Lobgesang," material from his inaugural concert as music director. The second, featured here, is his November 2005 performance of the Brahms "Piano Concerti," recorded live from a subscription concert with virtuoso Brazilian pianist Nelson Freire. Much can be learned about Leipzig's future from this powerful and grandiose opening introduction of the "First Piano Concerto." Seething with fire and energy even within the weakest of performances, the intensity is so strong with Chailly at the helm it alone is more than enough to hold anyone captive for the work's substantial 45-minute duration. The long D minor pedal has a weighty richness that Chailly seems to revel in and indeed we can be sure that Brahms would have, too. Freire's performance has the perfect balance of passion and sensitivity Brahms requires, he also seems to be listening carefully to the orchestra, often matching its depth of sound luxuriantly on his piano. There is much more accuracy in the orchestral playing than has been heard from this orchestra in the past. The sound from Decca is excellent as usual. With a bit of luck, a new recording featuring the Brahms Complete Symphonies performed by this new dream team will soon be on the way!
Gramophone - Jed Distler
[2007 Recording of the Year] This is the Brahms piano concerto set we've been waiting for. Nelson Freire and Riccardo Chailly offer interpretations that triumphantly fuse immediacy and insight, power and lyricism, and incandescent virtuosity that leaves few details unturned.
BBC Music Magazine - Calum MacDonald
[Freire] plays with great authority. The technical challenges of the two concertos sound child’s play to him, and these are deeply thoughtful, predominantly lyrical readings of both works.
Dallas Morning News - Lawson Taitte
In [Freire's] hands, nobility never gives way to stolidity, nor sensitivity to sentimentality. There's an unassuming suppleness to his phrasing and the loveliest lilt to the Second Concerto's finale.... Estimable performances. [Grade: B+]
Newark Star-Ledger - Bradley Bambarger
A treasure.... The performances combine high-octane virtuosity with romantic ardor.... These are now the Brahms piano concertos to have.
Classic FM Magazine
By several heads and shoulders, the best modern versions of the two Brahms piano concertos played by the same artist.
The Guardian - Andrew Clements
[Freire is] a superb technician - his lightness of touch in some of the passagework is a marvel - but he's also a wonderfully imaginative interpreter, coming up with ideas that seem surprising and yet perfectly judged.

[Freire] plays with great authority. The technical challenges of the two concertos sound child’s play to him, and these are deeply thoughtful, predominantly lyrical readings of both works.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 5/9/2006
  • Label: Decca
  • UPC: 028947576372
  • Catalog Number: 000658802
  • Sales rank: 46,032

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1–3 Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor, Op. 15 - Johannes Brahms & Riccardo Chailly (46:31)
Disc 2
  1. 1–4 Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat major, Op. 83 - Johannes Brahms & Riccardo Chailly (48:49)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Nelson Freire Primary Artist
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