Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat major, Op. 83
Sonata for violin & piano No. 1 in G major ("Regen"), Op. 78
In this mighty and majestic concerto, one of the longest in the repertory, pianist Emanuel Ax inspires comparison with his mentor Arthur Rubinstein. Rarely has the typically sure-fingered Ax's tone been so lush and dynamic. The higher notes of his instrument sound particularly gem-like, as glittery as a chandelier. The Boston Symphony reminds us that it is one of the world's great orchestras, capable of the music's considerable challenges. After a calm start, Dutch conductor Bernard Haitink revs up his engines for some dynamic Brahmsian music-making, carefully shaped, with particular attention paid to orchestral balance and beauty of tone. An arrangement for cello of the Brahms G Major Violin Sonata makes a lovely, lyrically expressive bonus. Here Ax is joined by Yo-Yo Ma, whose customary graceful approach suits this work originally written for a higher-toned instrument.