- Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat major, Op. 83
Maurizio Pollini's second Deutsche Grammophon release with Christian Thielemann and the Staatskapelle Dresden is a live concert recording of Johannes Brahms' "Piano Concerto No. 2," a fitting follow-up to his successful 2011 CD of the "Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor." That recording marked Pollini's triumphant return to Dresden, but this 2013 recording is less about the significance of the concert and more about the consolidation of Pollini's working relationship with Thielemann and the orchestra. Their unity of purpose makes this concerto hold together extremely well, and the pianist interacts with the ensemble as much as he stands apart as soloist, so there is a conscious attempt to show how Brahms wove the piano into his textures and integrated all the parts as an organic whole. Yet Pollini's thoughtful and controlled playing is always clearly audible, and Thielemann gives him considerable freedom to use rubato and set the pace where it enhances the expression. Overall, the sound of the recording is rich and full, and much clearer than the previous DG release, which suffered from murky reproduction. Instead, this performance benefits from closer microphone placement and cleaner separation of parts.