Brahms: Piano Sonata in F Minor, etc.

Brahms: Piano Sonata in F Minor, etc.

5.0 1
by Evgeny Kissin
Schumann called Brahms's youthful piano sonatas "veiled symphonies," which would make them a natural fit for powerhouse Russian pianist Evgeny Kissin. On this all-Brahms disc, Kissin starts off with the massive F Minor Sonata, Op. 5, whose five movements certainly betray orchestral aspirations. And Kissin brings plenty of Romantic


Schumann called Brahms's youthful piano sonatas "veiled symphonies," which would make them a natural fit for powerhouse Russian pianist Evgeny Kissin. On this all-Brahms disc, Kissin starts off with the massive F Minor Sonata, Op. 5, whose five movements certainly betray orchestral aspirations. And Kissin brings plenty of Romantic passion to the ardent score, offering a muscular interpretation full of intensity and grandeur, though muddy textures are the price he occasionally pays. Still, Kissin's technique is simply breathtaking -- listen to the brilliant cascades of notes in the Finale, for instance, for some awe-inspiring pianism. For the middle works on the program, Kissin moves on to a pair of miniatures from the Op. 76 collection, the A Minor Intermezzo and B Minor Capriccio, finding poetry in the former's delicate lyricism and in the latter's playful rhythms. But to conclude the disc, he lets his fingers loose again in five of the Hungarian Dances, carrying off these familiar pieces with hot-blooded energy and a dexterity that dazzles. Not for the faint of heart.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Blair Sanderson
Brahms' "Piano Sonata No. 3" was a monumental accomplishment for the young composer, and it is even more remarkable for being the last such work he would write. The scope of this sonata is comparable to those of the mature Beethoven, and its development and depth make it as complete a statement in that form as any nineteenth century composer would achieve. So strong is the work's assurance and sense of purpose that total commitment and stamina are required to unite the sonata's formal structure and passionate expression in a satisfying whole. From the powerful opening chords forward, it is clear that Evgeny Kissin's prodigious technique is matched by his emotional and intellectual involvement. Kissin's command of the keyboard is impressive, and the expressive demands the music makes are directly met. Kissin sustains his performance by playing the music as written, and he brings off towering sonorities without grandstanding and gentle lyricism without preciosity. This work's majestic weight is somewhat alleviated by the selections that follow it. The "Intermezzo"'s simplicity of expression is effectively contrasted with a light and witty reading of the "Capriccio." Even lighter, the five "Hungarian Dances" offered here are among Kissin's favorite encore pieces and are performed with great panache.
Gramophone - Bryce Morrison
Every bar of Brahms's early and rhetorical masterpiece is marked by [Kissin's] overwhelming technique and magisterial temperament.... Here is virtuosity in the grandest of grand manners and RCA's sound, for once, is as red-blooded as the playing.
BBC Music Magazine - Misha Donat
Here is Brahms playing of the highest quality, full of insight and with an unerring ear for the music's ebb and flow.... A disc to treasure.
Birmingham Post - David Hart
His account of Brahms's Sonata, Op. 5 in F absolutely stunning. Kissin gives a wonderfully controlled interpretation, bristling with interest and drama, especially in the opening Allegro maestoso, where the contrast between intensely brooding passages and ferociously virtuosic outbursts is most exciting.

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Related Subjects


  1. Piano Sonata No. 3 in F minor, Op. 5  - Johannes Brahms  - Evgeny Kissin
  2. Intermezzo for piano in A minor, Op. 76/7  - Johannes Brahms  - Evgeny Kissin
  3. Capriccio for piano in B minor, Op. 76/2  - Johannes Brahms  - Evgeny Kissin
  4. Hungarian Dance No. 1 for piano in G minor  - Johannes Brahms  - Evgeny Kissin
  5. Hungarian Dance No. 3 for piano in F major  - Johannes Brahms  - Evgeny Kissin
  6. Hungarian Dance No. 2 for piano in D minor  - Johannes Brahms  - Evgeny Kissin
  7. Hungarian Dance No. 7 for piano in A major  - Johannes Brahms  - Evgeny Kissin
  8. Hungarian Dance No. 6 for piano in D flat major  - Johannes Brahms  - Evgeny Kissin

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Brahms: Piano Sonata in F Minor, etc. 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
(1) Brahms’ F Minor piano sonata is one of the longest, most ambitious, and most impressive ever written. Any competent (and, in the wake of the Joyce Hatto scandal, authentic) recording of the work automatically will receive attention from current record-buyers, while any truly magnificent recording will be treasured by present and future generations. This late 2001 recording by Russian virtuoso pianist Evgeny Kissin, while short of “truly magnificent,” is extremely good and may yet come to be regarded as a classic. (2) The most commendable aspect of the recording is that Kissin unerringly maintains a sense of forward momentum in a work that, due to its length and use of repeats, all too easily can become static. Two factors, closely related, account for this: Kissin’s technical prowess, which enables him to blitz through the most demanding passages with hair-raising ease, and his tempo choices, which invariably are quick but never seem rushed. The quick tempos are one reason why Kissin does not find the same depth of expression in the work as does, say, Julius Katchen in his 1960’s stereo recording. The other reason, of course, is Katchen’s singular affinity with Brahms. Kissin, however, convincingly outplays Katchen in the knuckle-busting first movement and in general delivers a performance that does not strike me as superficial. Someday, I hope to compare Kissin’s recording to Katchen’s 1949 mono recording, in which Katchen reportedly attacks the work with unbridled ferocity. (3) Mention of 1949 mono sound brings me to the issue of sound quality on the Kissin recording. Simply put, it is acceptable but should have been better, given the December 2001 recording date. The recording is not at all muddy, but it does seem slightly recessed and also slightly metallic in some fortissimo passages. The sound quality, however, should not dissuade you from acquiring this disc, as Kissin’s performance would merit four stars even with good 1949 mono sound. With acceptable 2001 sound, it merits four and a half stars. Add to that the absolutely superb booklet notes and the interesting fillers, and you have a five-star release. (4) One caveat: the F Minor sonata is a warhorse, so in addition to this Kissin recording you should consider whatever favorably reviewed recordings have hit store shelves in the last three or four years (excluding ones by Joyce Hatto, of course).