Title - 'Brahms: The Piano Concertos 1 & 2' [2 CD]
Artist - Daniel Barenboim & Gustavo Dudamel
For those not in the classical know, Daniel Barenboim is an Argentine pianist and conductor. Currently, he is general music director of La Scala in Milan, the Berlin State Opera, and the Staatskapelle Berlin; he previously served as Music Director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Orchestre de Paris.
Barenboim is also known for his work with the West–Eastern Divan Orchestra, a Seville-based orchestra of young Arab and Israeli musicians, and as a resolute critic of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.
Gustavo Adolfo Dudamel Ramírez is a Venezuelan conductor and violinist. He is the music director of the Orquesta Sinfónica Simón Bolívar and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Dudamel was born in Barquisimeto, Venezuela, the son of a trombonist and a voice teacher. He studied music from an early age, becoming involved with El Sistema, the famous Venezuelan musical education program, and took up the violin at age ten.
He soon began to study composition. He attended the Jacinto Lara Conservatory, where José Luis Jiménez was among his violin teachers. He then went on to work with José Francisco del Castillo at the Latin-American Violin Academy.
Daniel Barenboim was overjoyed to be standing in the foyer of the Chamber Music Room of the Berlin Philharmonie on 2nd September 2014. He had just finished playing Brahms' two piano concertos in the main auditorium and now he was waxing enthusiastic about Gustavo Dudamel, who had appeared alongside him as the conductor of the Berlin Staatskapelle.
Barenboim has recorded Brahms' piano concertos on several previous occasions and always with partners who have meant a lot to him. One such partner was Sir John Barbirolli, who accompanied him with the New Philharmonia in 1967 and who was an important mentor of his. His next recording followed a good two decades later, this time with the New York Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta, who has been one of Barenboim's closest friends since 1956.
Although performing both concertos on a single evening (now here for us all to enjoy at home, on Brahms: The Piano Concertos 1 & 2; and on 2CDs) represents a tour de force, Barenboim has frequently included them in the same program, most notably with Sergiu Celibidache in Munich in 1991 and with Mehta in Berlin in 2002, when the pianist was marking his sixtieth birthday.
For Daniel Barenboim, both concertos are loyal companions that bear witness to his own journey through life, providing a connection with Brahms himself: in the course of his life, Brahms played the First Piano Concerto thirty-five times, the Second Piano Concerto some forty times. And it was as the conductor of both these works that Brahms bade farewell to the stage in Berlin on 10th January 1896.
3. Rondo. Allegro non troppo
1. Allegro non troppo
2. Allegro appassionato
4. Allegretto grazioso
For me, personally (of course, always, personally) the Second Concerto is much better than the First, with the tempo juggling much more moderate and the orchestra becomes more of an equal partner to the piano (as it should be in this piece). The Scherzo and Finale are well done, and kudos to the Staatskappelle first cello for a beautiful, deeply felt solo. Would that Barenboim's piano part were as deeply felt as that cello solo!
That said, in truth, Barenboim finds all of the thunder and lightning of these two great works and can appear like a bear when the energy demands it. But he is equally responsive to the eloquent slow movements, allowing the music to float out of the piano into the atmosphere with the quiet elegance that is so much a part of Brahms’ writing. Buy this today and experience this terrific classical recording for yourself; for it truly is a recording for the ages, you have my word.