GMG Classical Music Forum

The Music Room => Great Recordings and Reviews => Topic started by: Mandryka on November 28, 2009, 07:02:32 AM

Title: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: Mandryka on November 28, 2009, 07:02:32 AM
Some people love ‘em. Others hate ‘em. And there’s so much on record, loads of majorly different interpretations.

Me, I am enjoying a recording by Afanassiev which I recommend very enthusiastically. A spacious reading which really suits the music, and without a trace of lugubriousness and self-consciousness which I think can spoil many traditional interpretations.

I also like a record by Gieseking, made in the 50s. You have the usual Gieseking translucency of tone, of course. He plays with a remarkable lightness, a whimsy, which makes this quite a magical recording.
   
And there are a couple of other nice ones I know. Richter does Op118/6 brilliantly in the Leipzig CD (the one with the Beethoven sonatas). And if you play around with google enough you will find a concert bootleg of Op 118 by Zimmerman which, despite the poor sound, sounds really special. Again, there is nothing maudlin about Zimmerman’s Brahms. But there is a lot of feeling, much of it rather bleak and frightening.

I’ll let others speak for Lupu and Kempe and Rubinstein – I wonder if there are any fans of their Brahms styles out there.

Anyways, here’s a space to say anything you want about these enigmatic works.
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: ccar on November 28, 2009, 01:42:34 PM
I am certainly on the love 'em side. Wonderful, very poetical music.

And I also agree with you – very interesting performances from Gieseking (I also enjoy his earlier 1930’s versions), Lupu, Afanassiev, Kempff (I personally prefer his more spontaneous 1960 op 118 to the latter DG set) and particularly Richter whose mix of limpid strength and intimate expressiveness is revelatory in these short pieces (but, as usual with Richter, there are many different fragmentary recordings).

Other interpreters of the late Brahms piano pieces I particularly enjoy are Yudina (she even wrote a very interesting essay on the Brahms Intermezzi), Peter Rosel (largely unknown but a fine artist), Gyorgy Sebok (1960 Erato) and the younger François Chaplin (1998 Ocean).

(http://www.russiandvd.com/store/assets/product_images/imgs/front/36396.jpg) (http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51pomI%2B4WDL._SL500_AA240_.jpg)  (http://www.livingwatermusic.com/images/sebok.jpg) (http://www.francoischaplin.fr/presse/redim/080121072838_1francoischaplin.jpg)
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: Herman on November 28, 2009, 01:50:33 PM
The Rady Lupu disc is a must have IMO.

It's one of the few cds I'm able to listen to from A to Z.
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: George on November 28, 2009, 03:40:20 PM
Lupu's Brahms is lovely.

I need to revisit that Yudina Brahms CD. I have only heard the LvB on that CD. 
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: Coopmv on November 28, 2009, 06:21:55 PM
George,   Isn't this set by Katchen considered the gold standard for Brahms solo piano works?

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/517N6Q5Cu0L._SL500_AA240_.jpg)
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: George on November 28, 2009, 06:34:02 PM
George,   Isn't this set by Katchen considered the gold standard for Brahms solo piano works?

Considered by some, yes. I haven't heard it.
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on November 28, 2009, 10:07:11 PM
Some people love ‘em. Others hate ‘em.

Didn't realize these works had enemies. 0:)

Personally I love them. Lupu, Gilels, and Goode do nice work.
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: Mandryka on November 28, 2009, 11:50:00 PM
One question which may help progress the discussion.

When I read reviews of Brahms recordings I keep comming across the phrase Brahmsian inflection. Gilels has been praised for having a true Brahmsian inflection in Op 116 and in the Paganini Variations-- and Grimaud dissed for not having said inflection in her late Brahms.

Rubinstein and Kempff are said to have it. Pogorelich and Ranki said to lack it.

I guess this must refer to some traditional performance values, but can someone explain? What is this inflection?

Thanks for reminding me about Yudina ccar. BTW the best Kempff Op 118 I have heard comes from the 1950s.

Has anyone heard Schiff's late Brahms? Or Kovacevich's?
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: ccar on November 29, 2009, 04:19:10 AM
George,   Isn't this set by Katchen considered the gold standard for Brahms solo piano works?
:D  “No gold-digging for me... I take diamonds! We may be off the gold standard someday.” Mae West

For many (I including) Katchen is indeed a fantastic Brahms interpreter. The solo piano set has magnificent playing (and his Brahms concertos and chamber works are also first class). And in these late Brahms pieces I also appreciate the intense dynamics and the lush tone of his playing. But in most of these intermezzi, capriccios, romances and ballade I personally tend to look for a more dark, introspect or even "wandering" reading.     

When I read reviews of Brahms recordings I keep comming across the phrase Brahmsian inflection. Gilels has been praised for having a true Brahmsian inflection in Op 116 and in the Paganini Variations-- and Grimaud dissed for not having said inflection in her late Brahms.
Rubinstein and Kempff are said to have it. Pogorelich and Ranki said to lack it.
I guess this must refer to some traditional performance values, but can someone explain? What is this inflection?
The Brahms inflection is being sold in the specialized critic's stores (there is now a promotional downloadable pack with the Mozart, Schumann and Beethoven inflections).  ;D

BTW the best Kempff Op 118 I have heard comes from the 1950s.
I thought you were referring to the later 1963 recording. I agree with you - for me the 1950-1953 phrasing is more inventive and "unpredictable". The Kempff performance I mentioned is a 1960 radio broadcast - it includes only the op.118 but it is also worth to listen to (Orfeo 7210721).

PS: With or without the necessary "Brahmsian inflection", Gilels is also very interesting.
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: Mandryka on November 29, 2009, 04:54:37 AM

For many (I including) Katchen is indeed a fantastic Brahms interpreter.
 

He recorded some pieces twice (like the Paganini Variations) -- To me the ones in that Deca set seem too flash, to much like this music is Bravura.

I know he has his fans, but I think there are better recordings even of the earlier pieces like the Handel variations and The Paganini Variations.

He doesn't have the right inflection magic.

I haven't heard the early recording of the Paganini Variations  -- I would like to. If anyone can locate them on CD please let me know.


But in most of these intermezzi, capriccios, romances and ballade I personally tend to look for a more dark, introspect or even "wandering" reading.   

 

That's precisely what interests me.

I think there is a tradition which says that these later pieces are the sultry maudlin disappointed regrettful outpourings of an aging composer, whose mind has started to wonder a bit. That's how I hear Rubinstein and Kempff play them. And Lupu.

But there are other ways, and to my ears they are at least as successful (I hope you have noticed my well studied diplomacy here.) . Afanassiev, for all his slow tempi, and Grimaud and Gould  and Gieseking  make this music sound less lie the sound track to a Holywood tearjerker (On Golden Pond maybe) and more like really profound and complex music.

There is a fascibating essay on this subject by Peter Gay called Aimez-vous Brahms? On Polarities in Modernism. Well worth seeking out I think -- Brahms more than any other composer seems to have been saddled with preconceptions about the correct way to play the music. (Those Brahmsian inflections.)
 

Gilels is also very interesting.
 

Only Op 116 as far as I know. I have it on Orfeo and I like it, and I like Richter. And Bashkirov. And Lubimov. Maybe there is a Russian way of playing this stuff like there is a Russian way of playing Schubert which offers a distinct alternative to Rubinstein & Co.

Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: Herman on November 29, 2009, 06:07:06 AM

I think there is a tradition which says that these later pieces are the sultry maudlin disappointed outpourings of an aging composer, whose mind has started to wonder a bit. That's how I hear Rubinstein and Kempff play them. And Lupu.

But there are other ways, and to my ears they are at least as successful (I hope you have noticed my well studied diplomacy here.) . Afanassiev, for all his slow tempi, and Grimaud and Gould  and Gieseking  make this music sound less lie the sound track to a Holywood tearjerker (On Golden Pond maybe) and more like really profound and complex music.


That's funny. I would rather take it the other way around. Rubinstein, Kempff and Lupu are unsentimental while Gould is. And it's possible Gould's interviewed himself at some point to say that his take on Brahms is sooo unsentimental, but that's not what I'm hearing  -  and I like Gould's disc with short Brahms pieces. In fact it's the only Gould recording I like.
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: Mandryka on November 29, 2009, 08:37:14 AM
That's funny. I would rather take it the other way around. Rubinstein, Kempff and Lupu are unsentimental while Gould is. And it's possible Gould's interviewed himself at some point to say that his take on Brahms is sooo unsentimental, but that's not what I'm hearing  -  and I like Gould's disc with short Brahms pieces. In fact it's the only Gould recording I like.

No no no no no no no , Hermann.  No.

Are you 'avin a larf?

The point isn't that one group are sentimental and the other aren't.

The point is that one group -- Rubinstein & Co. --  find mainly a particular narrow  range of feelings in their responses: feelings that we associate with an old man looking back with some regrets over his life.

The other group -- the Russians maybe, but also I think Grimaud and (maybe) Gieseking and Zilberstein  and (maybe) Zimmerman-- find different things -- hints of terror, violence, anger. Stuff like that.

Compare the strength of Richter in Opus 118/6

http://www.youtube.com/v/crrxk6ptsFc

with Kempff

http://www.youtube.com/v/GSgXX7erOBY

My guess is that the Rubinstein & Co, are following a tradition of how to play this music, a tradition which may well go back to Joseph Joachim and  Karl Heinrich Barth and hence to Brahms himself. Remember that Rubinstein and Kempff both studied with Barth, and Barth studied with Tausig and  von Bülow, who both knew Brahms. Rubinstein in fact was taken under the wing of Joseph Joachim when he was a young man, and Joachim knew Brahms personally, of course.

It's pretty hard for me  to imagine this music being played objectively by anyone!

Truth is, I have not heard Gould's Brahms for ages. I will have to relisten before digging myself into an even deeper hole.
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: ccar on November 29, 2009, 10:15:58 AM
To me the ones in that Decca set seem too flash, to much like this music is Bravura.

Yes, understand what you mean. And I agree - I am never into the "pianistic" mechanical virtuosity side, unless there is some real musical juice in it - and this is quite rare in most of the performers. Especially in the "bravura" pieces where, for me, the efficient playing is only a basic mean to convey some musical idea, beauty or even poetry that is usually hidden behind the gymnic notes.
Of course, this is not to say that some of the most "simple" or subtle musical pieces don't require technical virtuosity - they may, even more, but in a different "internal" way. This is why the "naked" Bach or Mozart (or even Brahms) is so difficult to approach.

Katchen may indeed lean into this flashy virtuosistic playing. That's why I would not go for him in these late Brahms pieces. And for the reason above I am not into his Paganini Variations also. But his Violin Sonatas (with Suk) and some more "symphonic" piano works are very interesting. For instance, let me confess I personally prefer Katchen's bravura approach in the Brahms piano concertos to the most revered but solemn Gilels-Jochum DG reading (to whom I could never connect with).           

He recorded some pieces twice (like the Paganini Variations)
I haven't heard the early recording of the Paganini Variations  -- I would like to. If anyone can locate them on CD please let me know.

(http://t1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:gHvZTYfO8W8ulM:http://catalogue.deccaclassics.com/cover/s300x300/4757221.jpg)

I think there is a tradition which says that these later pieces are the sultry maudlin disappointed regretful outpourings of an aging composer, whose mind has started to wonder a bit. That's how I hear Rubinstein and Kempff play them. And Lupu.

Not at all. See the absolute clear mind of the composer in his contemporary letters. And particularly the one from October 1892 to Clara Schumann:

" Since you asked for them, I'm sending herewith a volume of piano pieces ... I don't need to ask you not to let them out of your hands ... put them aside and pick up the Rhapsodies, say, if you want to recall with pleasure the music of your most affectionately devoted Johannes. "

Most of the op. 116-117 pieces (and perhaps some included in the latter opus) were sent to Clara and "dedicated" to her. They were composed by an old man yes, but may have been inspired by intimacy, sorrow, poetry and LOVE. 
That's why, probably, we feel we need a more intimate "inflection" in the playing.

Carlos



 
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: Tyson on January 21, 2010, 12:33:11 AM
Katchen is often (semi)-derided as flash in the pan virtuoso note spinning.  But I've been listening extensively to Gilels, Grimaud, Kempff, Klien, Katchen, and Rosel, and I have to say that Katchen is pretty gentle and rounded in his performances here.  In some of Brahms' earlier works (such as the Sonatas), he's ferocious, but here in the late works he uses silences more effectively than anyone else I've listened to (except maybe Lupu).
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: val on January 21, 2010, 12:40:30 AM
I deeply love Brahms late piano works.

My favorite versions are:

opus 116:  Gilels (1983)

opus 117, 118, 119 :  Radu Lupu
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: Franco on January 21, 2010, 07:01:32 AM
I have recordings of both Katchen and Kempff (I think from the 1950s) playing much of Brahms piano late works (the complete works by Katchen), and to my ears, found Kempff not to my taste, whereas Katchen was nearly perfect.  I love Kempff's Beethoven, but his Brahms seems somewhat colorless and stiff.

As always, what I post are merely the personal reactions of a casual listener and not to be considered anything but.
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: George on January 21, 2010, 07:27:14 AM
I also found Kempff's Brahms to be dissappointing. Even the mono stuff. I love Lupu's Brahms though!!
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: MN Dave on January 21, 2010, 07:34:58 AM
I like Kempff's Brahms but I ordered the Lupu anyway.
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: Mandryka on January 21, 2010, 08:39:11 AM
This starting this discussion I can enthusiastically recommend two recordings:

1. Afanassiev's Brahms CD -- characterful and full of feeling without to much of the rambling old man. I love this recording. I think Afanassiev is one of the greatest active pianists, in fact.
2. Zilberstein's Brahms CD (it has been republished by Arkivmusic)  -- sharp, quick, rather chisled style. It comes with an outstanding Paganini Variations. I love this one too.
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: MN Dave on January 29, 2010, 08:17:49 AM
The Rady Lupu disc is a must have IMO.

It's one of the few cds I'm able to listen to from A to Z.

I listened to the first disc last night and was impressed. It looks like we have a winner! Thank you, folks.
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: springrite on January 29, 2010, 08:33:43 AM
I am a big fan of Ranki in these works. But not taken collectively (as "complete sets"), I like Richter the most.
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: Mandryka on October 26, 2010, 11:34:56 PM


Other interpreters of the late Brahms piano pieces I particularly enjoy are Yudina (she even wrote a very interesting essay on the Brahms Intermezzi),

I'm quite curious to read that essay. Where is it?
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: ccar on October 27, 2010, 01:14:46 AM
I'm quite curious to read that essay. Where is it?
                  Enjoy :  http://www.math.uchicago.edu/~ryzhik/brahms.html (http://www.math.uchicago.edu/~ryzhik/brahms.html)
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: knight66 on October 27, 2010, 04:02:09 AM
George,   Isn't this set by Katchen considered the gold standard for Brahms solo piano works?

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/517N6Q5Cu0L._SL500_AA240_.jpg)

I had this on LP and have never replaced it on CD. I have Lupu in the late works, excellent, but without quite that magic touch I encountered with Katchen. Perhaps I will look out for it again. How does the sound stand up?

Mike
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: snyprrr on October 29, 2010, 08:01:49 AM
Yikes, which Thread was it???

Anyhow, thanks to the Threads for the conversion! :-*
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on October 29, 2010, 09:27:14 PM
These two snippets of late Brahms from Moravec are heavenly:

Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: George on October 29, 2010, 09:32:22 PM
These two snippets of late Brahms from Moravec are heavenly:

Indeed they are. Check PM.
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: Oldnslow on October 30, 2010, 12:08:23 PM
I have several recordings of Brahms late piano works, but my favorite remains the Gould collection of 10 Intermezzi (reissued with the op.10 ballades in a two CD set). His playing is wonderful,and in some cases very unusual (what's new), especially on op.118, n.6. I have never heard another pianist play the central section legato (probably because it wasn't written that way...) but the effect is mezmarizing. 
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: Herman on October 31, 2010, 01:50:42 AM
I have several recordings of Brahms late piano works, but my favorite remains the Gould collection of 10 Intermezzi (reissued with the op.10 ballades in a two CD set). His playing is wonderful,and in some cases very unusual (what's new), especially on op.118, n.6. I have never heard another pianist play the central section legato (probably because it wasn't written that way...) but the effect is mezmarizing.

Gould's Brahms intermezzi &c is the only Gould recording I have. It's really special. However Lupu and mono Rubinstein are my preferred recordings.
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: Mandryka on October 31, 2010, 06:58:06 AM
I have several recordings of Brahms late piano works, but my favorite remains the Gould collection of 10 Intermezzi (reissued with the op.10 ballades in a two CD set). His playing is wonderful,and in some cases very unusual (what's new), especially on op.118, n.6. I have never heard another pianist play the central section legato (probably because it wasn't written that way...) but the effect is mezmarizing.

Agreed about 118/6.

There are some other Op 118/6s which I think are special. The one I am most impressed by at the moment is from Richter in 1954. in the Hungary box. More than anyone else I know, he seems to move from despair to something wild and unchained, and on to something else I can't find the word for -- stillness maybe.

But I don't want to minimise  Gould's achievement with it. Even less so Yudina's.
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: mjwal on November 25, 2010, 09:24:50 AM
In the process of revaluing Brahms (for myself) I have moved away from Lupu (nostalgically lovely as it is) towards the few Richter recordings and the Afanassiev - thanks for the tip, Mandryka, I found this recording on line. I agree that this music must be more passionate and above all more riven, more Russian novel, in fact - he was a great friend of Turgenev's. I must get hold of the Gay book you recommend with that Brahms piece - I couldn't find the article on line. The Yudina notes are absorbing, thank you ccar! Her words on "Didn't our hearts burn within us?" and also quotations about parks and natural vistas are illuminating: one must imagine Brahms, Turgenev & al. roaming the Black Forest, the dramas of human life played out in the hotels there...a certain loftiness of spiritual approach...
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: Mandryka on November 26, 2010, 01:11:07 PM
In the process of revaluing Brahms (for myself) I have moved away from Lupu (nostalgically lovely as it is) towards the few Richter recordings and the Afanassiev - thanks for the tip, Mandryka, I found this recording on line. I agree that this music must be more passionate and above all more riven, more Russian novel, in fact - he was a great friend of Turgenev's. I must get hold of the Gay book you recommend with that Brahms piece - I couldn't find the article on line. The Yudina notes are absorbing, thank you ccar! Her words on "Didn't our hearts burn within us?" and also quotations about parks and natural vistas are illuminating: one must imagine Brahms, Turgenev & al. roaming the Black Forest, the dramas of human life played out in the hotels there...a certain loftiness of spiritual approach...

Recent Brahms solo piano  pleasures -- Schnabel's Intermezzi;  Cziffra's Paganini Variations; Grimaud's first  Brahms CD on Erato; Tiegerman's Op 118/5; Richter Op 118/6 from Hungary in 1952;  Moravec's LP of Intermezzi (Nonsuch); Beveridge Webster's Schumann Variations. the Sokolov Heidleberg concert.

Recent Brahms solo piano  pains -- Petrov's first sonata (no one can make this music interesting); Niehaus in Op 76 (hard and fast); Elly Ney's Intermezzi (indescribably terrible)

Thinking about -- Rodriguez's Paganini Variations and Waltzes; Cziffra's Hungarian Dances (live at Senlis); Arrau's 2nd sonata; Edwin Fischer's variations on an Original Theme; Kocsis 3rd sonata; Lubimov's Handel Variatins.


Undecided about whether to buy Schliesmann's Brahms CDs, though it's inevitable that my curiosity will get the better of me in the end.  I can't make up my mind about this pianist.
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: matti on November 27, 2010, 01:46:39 AM
I wish Mindru Katz had recorded more of these, his B flat minor Op. 117 is right up my alley. I have not heard the Moravec snippets yet, but I am guessing they cannot be much less than great. 
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: George on December 16, 2010, 05:19:45 PM
These two snippets of late Brahms from Moravec are heavenly:

I wonder why all of his solo stuff never made it to CD. A lost opportunity IMO.  :-\
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on December 16, 2010, 05:57:44 PM
I wonder why all of his solo stuff never made it to CD. A lost opportunity IMO.  :-\

I'd like to know, too. But these record companies...just total enigmas.....

Supraphon would seem to be the one company most willing to issue everything from Moravec if only to cash in on his popularity in the Czech Republic. But I guess they know something I don't... :(

Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: PaulSC on December 16, 2010, 06:11:27 PM
I guess they know something I don't... :(
Less is Moravec?  ;D
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on December 16, 2010, 06:53:31 PM
Less is Moravec?  ;D

Orange you glad we have a sense of humor at GMG? :)

Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: George on December 16, 2010, 07:08:14 PM
Orange you glad we have a sense of humor at GMG? :)

I can't hear you, I got a banana in my ear.  ;D
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: edward on December 16, 2010, 07:15:48 PM
I wonder why all of his solo stuff never made it to CD. A lost opportunity IMO.  :-\
Late Brahms and Moravec sounds like a marriage made in heaven. Anyone preventing us from hearing this should fry in boiling oil. :)
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on December 16, 2010, 07:47:53 PM
I can't hear you, I got a banana in my ear.  ;D

You might could...appeal to it...

Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: George on November 19, 2011, 07:09:08 PM
I have had the early mono recordings of Brahms late works by Kempff for a few years and each time I listen, I feel that I enjoy some of it, but in
other places, it doesn't work at all for me.

For those who have heard his stereo recordings of these works, can you tell me if they are all that different?
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: Mandryka on November 19, 2011, 11:44:38 PM
I have had the early mono recordings of Brahms late works by Kempff for a few years and each time I listen, I feel that I enjoy some of it, but in
other places, it doesn't work at all for me.

For those who have heard his stereo recordings of these works, can you tell me if they are all that different?

Piano tone -- it's much fuller in the mono

Maybe you don't enjoy such a lyrical approach. Post Gould, it's hard to accept such an un-analytic style.

Also poetically it may not be satisfying.  He plays the music  charged with regret. Modern Brahms interpretation finds more emotional variety in the music. 
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: 71 dB on November 20, 2011, 04:51:47 AM
Strange as it is I don't think I have ever heard Brahms' solo piano music.
Would these "enigmatic" late works be a good starting point or perhaps his 3 sonatas?

I am not a Brahms fanatic as you could figure out from this but I do enjoy his chamber music.
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: Brahmsian on November 20, 2011, 05:33:53 AM
Strange as it is I don't think I have ever heard Brahms' solo piano music.
Would these "enigmatic" late works be a good starting point or perhaps his 3 sonatas?

I am not a Brahms fanatic as you could figure out from this but I do enjoy his chamber music.

Yes, both would be great to check out!  Also check out his Ballades, Op. 10, Two Rhapsodies, Op. 79, his Variations compositions for piano, and any of his music for piano 4-hands (which includes many of his chamber and orchestral works transcribed for this medium).

Definitely check out Variations on a theme by Haydn for two pianos, Op. 56b, and Variations on a theme by Robert Schumann for piano 4-hands, Op. 23

Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: madaboutmahler on November 20, 2011, 05:45:07 AM
I could probably call these Late Brahms piano works, in particular op.118, my favourite piano works of all time... So beautiful.

Thinking of buying the recent Perahia recording, any thoughts?
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: 71 dB on November 20, 2011, 05:47:47 AM
Yes, both would be great to check out!  Also check out his Ballades, Op. 10, Two Rhapsodies, Op. 79, his Variations compositions for piano, and any of his music for piano 4-hands (which includes many of his chamber and orchestral works transcribed for this medium).

Definitely check out Variations on a theme by Haydn for two pianos, Op. 56b, and Variations on a theme by Robert Schumann for piano 4-hands, Op. 23

I asked for a starting point and You listed pretty much everything he has written but thanks anyway.  8)

My favorite solo piano composers are Fauré and Granados.

I suppose Brahms' piano music is not as colourful and possesses perhaps other kind (structural?) of strengths.

I have Variations on a theme by Haydn for orchestra, Op. 56a and I like it very much.  :)
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: Brahmsian on November 20, 2011, 05:56:41 AM
I asked for a starting point and You listed pretty much everything he has written but thanks anyway.  8)

My favorite solo piano composers are Fauré and Granados.

I suppose Brahms' piano music is not as colourful and possesses perhaps other kind (structural?) of strengths.

I have Variations on a theme by Haydn for orchestra, Op. 56a and I like it very much.  :)

Sorry about that!  :D  Well, if you like the Haydn Variations for orchestra, why not try starting with that?  I actually prefer the version for two pianos, although I love both!  :)
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: Mandryka on November 20, 2011, 06:23:46 AM
Strange as it is I don't think I have ever heard Brahms' solo piano music.
Would these "enigmatic" late works be a good starting point or perhaps his 3 sonatas?

I am not a Brahms fanatic as you could figure out from this but I do enjoy his chamber music.

I don't like the sonatas or the ballades much. The late pieces are good but I really think the best place to atart exploring his piano music is with the Handel Variations, or Paganini Variations.


I could probably call these Late Brahms piano works, in particular op.118, my favourite piano works of all time... So beautiful.

Thinking of buying the recent Perahia recording, any thoughts?

His Op 118  is vigorous, unsentimental, straightforward,  robust, no nonsense, monochromatic, meat and potatoes. 
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: George on November 20, 2011, 06:27:46 AM
Sorry about that!  :D  Well, if you like the Haydn Variations for orchestra, why not try starting with that?  I actually prefer the version for two pianos, although I love both!  :)

Not a lot of recordings for that one, it seems. Which one do you like? Argerich/Rabinovich?
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: Mandryka on November 20, 2011, 06:37:22 AM
I enjoyed Argerich/Pollina Leschenko more than Argerich/Rabinovich -- it's wilder. A live recording from  Lugano


 
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: George on November 20, 2011, 06:41:43 AM
I enjoyed Argerich/Pollina Leschenko more than Argerich/Rabinovich -- it's wilder. A live recording from  Lugano

Cool, I have that one! So the St. Antoni variations = Haydn Variations?
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: Brahmsian on November 20, 2011, 07:38:42 AM
Not a lot of recordings for that one, it seems. Which one do you like? Argerich/Rabinovich?

Hi George!  :)  I have the Brilliant Classics recording with Bracha Eden/Alexander Tamir
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: madaboutmahler on November 20, 2011, 07:50:59 AM
His Op 118  is vigorous, unsentimental, straightforward,  robust, no nonsense, monochromatic, meat and potatoes.

Ah, that comes as a surprise considering I have heard so much praise for it... I really want a new recording to go with my excellent Lupu recording, so any suggestions?
Thanks for getting back to me.
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: Mandryka on November 20, 2011, 08:13:07 AM
Recommend complete Op 118s  which contrast with Lupu?

Yudina;  Grimaud (Erato -- not DG); Elisabeth Leonskaja.  Maybe even Gieseking.

I didn't mean to be negative about Perahia by the way. I think it's interesting that he decide to play the music as he does. I think you should hear it: it will certainly contrast with Lupu.

Cool, I have that one! So the St. Antoni variations = Haydn Variations?

Yes
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: George on November 20, 2011, 08:24:49 AM
Hi George!  :)  I have the Brilliant Classics recording with Bracha Eden/Alexander Tamir

Hey Ray! Thanks!

And to madaboutmahler I second the Yudina suggestion.
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: Sergeant Rock on November 20, 2011, 08:36:51 AM
And to madaboutmahler I second the Yudina suggestion.

And to madaboutmahler I second the Grimaud suggestion.

Okay...I may have some extramusical reasons for the recommendation  ;D  But I do think her Brahms is spectacular.


Sarge
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: George on November 20, 2011, 01:01:57 PM
And to madaboutmahler I second the Grimaud suggestion.

Okay...I may have some extramusical reasons for the recommendation  ;D  But I do think her Brahms is spectacular.


Sarge

Sarge thinks that Brahms is German for bottom.  8)
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: Sergeant Rock on November 20, 2011, 01:19:27 PM
Sarge thinks that Brahms is German for bottom.  8)

 ;D  :D  ;D
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: madaboutmahler on November 20, 2011, 01:22:38 PM
haha :)

Thank you for your feedback, I shall look into both the Yudina, and the Grimaud...

 :D
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: George on November 20, 2011, 02:03:22 PM
haha :)

Thank you for your feedback, I shall look into both the Yudina, and the Grimaud...

 :D

Although Yudina offers the most contrast to Lupu, I like Gould most of all, so if you can hear his Brahms, I definitely suggest you do.
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: Mandryka on November 20, 2011, 09:25:45 PM
Although Yudina offers the most contrast to Lupu, I like Gould most of all, so if you can hear his Brahms, I definitely suggest you do.


Gould's Brahms is the opposite of his Bach. In Bach his method  was  to take  highly contrapuntal music and vulgarise it by highlighting the tunes . In Brahms his method was to take highly lyrical music and un-vulagrise it by highlighting inner voices.

There's a sense in which Gould is the extreme polar opposite of Kempff. Kempff highlights to a fault  the lyricism, often overstating the simplicity by hiding the counterpoint. Gould highlights to a fault  the counterpoint, often overstating the complexity by hiding the lyricism.

Just maybe Gould's deconstruction of late Brahms is really important in the reception history. Could it be that the modern style of playing intermezzos slowly and bringing out counterpoint started with Gould? I'm not sure, but I wouldn't be surprised to learn that Gould was  an influence on Pogorelich, for example.



Horowitz's Op 117/2  isn't so well known. Neither is Fiorentino's which I think is just as interesting


http://www.youtube.com/v/CdeE-1cHhxA

Shorter than Kempff and the pre-Gould pianists, and more analytic too. It wouldn't be surprising if Gould had influenced Fiorentino too.

There's another aspect of late Brahms interpretation which is interesting.  Poetically, emotionally, modern Brahmsians find  vigorous and fiery emotional content. By contrast Edwin Fischer and Schnabel and Kempff and Gieseking and Rubinstein  saw the music as dominated at the emotional level  by autumnal regret.   I wonder if this poetic trend has its origin in Yudina.

Toucan loves Horowitz's late Brahms. For me, the pianist who presses all the right buttons in late Brahms isn't Horowitz, but Schnabel

http://www.youtube.com/v/SzOvuXZc7GE

And Sokolov. Not  the Sokolov of the commercial recording but the Sokolov who has performed some extraordinary Brahms over the past couple of years:

http://www.youtube.com/v/GmiYxpUfH2M

What he is doing with Brahms right now  seems to me to be wholly original and very wonderful.
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: George on November 21, 2011, 03:44:08 AM
Let's not leave Levy out of the discussion:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S1smhEkH5vU&feature=related
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: George on November 22, 2011, 04:59:36 PM
I searched this thread in vain for recommendations of Serkin's Brahms, namely his Op. 119, which is wonderful. No love for Serkin's Brahms?
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: George on November 22, 2011, 05:46:38 PM
By which I suppose you mean the following CD - let me order it then I'll tell you if there is still love for Serkin, in this aging heart.

Actually, I meant his studio recording. Haven't heard the BBC one.

http://www.amazon.com/Brahms-Concerto-Intermezzi-Rhapsody-Interpretation/dp/B0026D0ARM
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: Mandryka on November 23, 2011, 01:23:40 AM
Do you think Serkin makes the right tone for solo Brahms? I have the same sort of doubts about his Schubert. Texture matters.
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: George on November 23, 2011, 04:38:06 AM
Do you think Serkin makes the right tone for solo Brahms? I have the same sort of doubts about his Schubert. Texture matters.

I love his touch with the quieter movements in Op. 119.

It's remarkable how many different interpretations of Brahms's late music there are, and  a joy to have them all.
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: George on November 24, 2011, 05:03:19 AM
What about Van Cliburn?

I am listening to his late Brahms now on Spotify. Though I know Lupu came after him, his playing reminds me of Lupu's Brahms. I'm wondering if I need both.
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: Mandryka on November 24, 2011, 05:19:28 AM


You don't need both. Get rid of the Lupu.


From memory he's less self conscious than Lupu and the tone is more burnished.
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: George on November 24, 2011, 05:26:38 AM

You don't need both. Get rid of the Lupu.


From memory he's less self conscious than Lupu and the tone is more burnished.

 ;D

Thanks! I don't have the Cliburn - yet.
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: jwinter on September 04, 2012, 03:20:07 PM
I've been listening to these works quite a bit over the past few days.  I think my particular favorite is Op 117 #1.  Through the happy magic of iTunes, last night I pulled together a playlist of the six versions I have on CD (Kuerti, Ax, Grimaud, Katchen, Lupu, and Nat), and downloaded sample tracks of Kempff and Gould to make eight. 

To my surprise, I found Emanuel Ax to be the most enjoyable, followed by Lupu and Gould.  Ax never seems to get much attention, either in these parts or from critics, but I thought his performance here brought just the right emotional touch to the piece, understated without being flat, nostalgic without becoming sentimental.  Very enjoyable.
(http://images.amazon.com/images/P/B00000270T.01.L.jpg)

Radu Lupu is still my favorite set of Op 117-119 as a whole, and his Op 117 #1 is excellent as well -- it's the version by which I came to know the work.  Glenn Gould was very nice as well, not at all what I would have expected based on the Bach and a few other things I've heard.  I may have to invest in his Brahms disc.  The only one of the 8 pianists that truly disappointed me was Yves Nat -- clocking in at just under 4 minutes, it seemed a bit rushed, as if it needed a bit more room to breathe, so to speak.  But I love Nat's Beethoven, so I'll give it a few more tries down the road.

Any favorites for Op 117 #1 that I've missed?
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: Mandryka on September 05, 2012, 07:22:16 AM
Well I prefer Ax to Lupu too in 117/1 just because he doesn't make me think of the Edwardian gentleman wiping away a tear of nostalgia with his cologne scented pocket handkerchief.

But the real thing I have to thank you for is this: while hunting around for Ax's Brahms on spotify I came across Shliessmann's recording of Op 117 -- I've been dipping into his other record. with Ops 118 and 119 from time to time over the past month or so, but I'd somehow missed the one with Op 117 -- maybe because I don't like the early Brahms which is on the same CD. Anyway, this is seriously good -- burnished tone, no Edwardian gentleman's tear, some nostalgia but tremendous strength and passion too.


Oh and by the way, someone on another  forum put me on to Michaela Ursuleasa's op 117 recently  -- certainly it's worth trying if you've got spotify. It's nostalgia ridden, golden autumnal glow sort of thing. She's recently died and was clearly a very promising musician.

And  if you like  Op 117/1 be sure to check Schnabel, who's  top dog for me in the world of Brahms. 
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: jwinter on September 05, 2012, 09:49:50 AM
Thanks Mandryka!  I'll have to check those out...
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: liuzerus87 on September 05, 2012, 10:39:28 AM
And  if you like  Op 117/1 be sure to check Schnabel, whose top dog for me in the world of Brahms.

Agreed that Schnabel is very very good in Op 117/1. What other Brahms solo pieces are on record by him? The only Brahms I see by him are the two piano concerti and then 79/2, 116/2 and 117/1. If that's it, that'd be quite a pity...
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: jwinter on September 05, 2012, 03:31:01 PM
Excellent, it turns out I already have the Schnabel, coupled w/ the 1st piano concerto on Naxos!  Very fine indeed, thanks for pointing it out...
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: ChamberNut on December 02, 2012, 07:54:42 AM
*Bump*

Bumping this mainly for 'Sock Monkey Greg's' benefit.  :D
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on December 19, 2012, 10:51:47 PM
Getting to know some late Brahms from Paik. Definitely enjoyable.



(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/31vA8IRVyUL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: Mandryka on March 20, 2013, 10:20:08 AM
I've been listening to Backhaus's first record of op 118, from 1932. There's an outstanding transfer of it by Mark Obert-Thorn for  Naxos on spotify. Let me say at the outset that I find the interpretation totally convincing. We know that Backhaus was a great a brahmsian from his recording of the second concerto with Schuricht. This op 118 certainly confirms that.

But what's interesting me most is how dynamic it is. There is not one iota of the golden glow of lingering nostalgia that you hear from Lupu, for example. I couldn't help but think of Eteleka Freund's record of the Handel Variations - she knew Brahms and presumably her style was influenced by what he wanted. I just wonder if Lupu- esque late Brahms style is a relatively modern construction.
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: George on March 20, 2013, 11:39:29 AM
I've been listening to Backhaus's first record of op 118, from 1932. There's an outstanding transfer of it by Mark Obert-Thorn for  Naxos on spotify. Let me say at the outset that I find the interpretation totally convincing. We know that Backhaus was a great a brahmsian from his recording of the second concerto with Schuricht. This op 118 certainly confirms that.

I've listened to Backhaus's solo Brahms on Naxos a few times, but I have yet to connect with it. It's very different than modern day pianists Brahms. So different that the first time I heard it, I hated it. I think Rubinstein is more successful at the non-nostalgic Brahms approach.

I listened to Richter's op. 119 from the late 50s Moscow (from a recent Olympia CD) last night and really loved it. There was a wonderful air of mystery in the air.   

Quote
But what's interesting me most is how dynamic it is. There is not one iota of the golden glow of lingering nostalgia that you hear from Lupu, for example. I couldn't help but think of Eteleka Freund's record of the Handel Variations - she knew Brahms and presumably her style was influenced by what he wanted. I just wonder if Lupu- esque late Brahms style is a relatively modern construction.

It seems to be. I find the difference between Backhaus and Lupu to be vast. The latter I found instantly likeable, while the former almost seems to go out of it's way to not attract admirers.   
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: Sammy on March 20, 2013, 11:41:58 AM

Gould's Brahms is the opposite of his Bach. In Bach his method  was  to take  highly contrapuntal music and vulgarise it by highlighting the tunes .

That's pretty much the opposite of how I hear Gould's Bach.  To me, he gives equal weight to each voice, so highlighting the tunes is not his thing.  It might apply to pianists such as Hewitt or Perahia.
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: mjwal on March 20, 2013, 12:05:23 PM
Mandryka: "I just wonder if Lupu-esque late Brahms style is a relatively modern construction."
I know no descriptions of how Brahms played his own works - but Florence May, for instance, who studied with him (after Clara Schumann) in the  early 70s,gave us her description of his playing of Bach: "It was my happiness to hear, amongst other things, his readings of many of the forty-eight preludes and fugues, and his playing of them, and especially of the preludes, impressed me with such force and vividness that I can hear it in memory still. His interpretation of Bach was always unconventional and quite unfettered by traditional theory, and he certainly did not share the opinion, which has had many distinguished adherents, that Bach's music should be performed in a simply flowing style. In the movements of the suites he liked variety of tone and touch, as well asa certain elasticity of tempo. His playing of many of the preludes and some of the fugues was a revelation of exquisite poems, and he performed them, not only with graduated shading, but with marked contrasts of tone effect. Each note of Bach's passages and figures contributed, in the hands of Brahms, to form melody which was instinct with feeling
of some kind or other. It might be deep pathos, or lighthearted playfulness and jollity ; impulsive energy, or soft and tender grace; but sentiment (as distinct from sentimentality) was always there; monotony never. 'Quite tender and quite soft,' was his frequent admonition to me, whilst in another place he would require the utmost impetuosity. He loved Bach's suspensions. ' It is here that it must sound,' he would say, pointing to the tied note, and insisting, whilst not allowing me to force the preparation, that the latter should be so struck as to give the fullest possible effect to the dissonance." Life of Johannes Brahms pp.16-17. This splendid book can be found on the Internet Archive.
While this gives us no direct clues to how he played his own later pieces, reading this one can imagine the combination of qualities he may have brought to them. Lupu is too studied and jewelled in his pathos, perhaps, to find approval in Brahms's ears. For me, Richter is the ideal in those later pieces he recorded, but he is, perhaps, a touch too marmoreal to correspond to the Brahmsian ideal, which sounds to me as if it was Schumannesque. Somehow I think of Egorov, but he recorded no Brahms that I know of. Perhaps Etelka Freund is the best model pianists should take cognizance of.
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: Mandryka on March 20, 2013, 01:23:25 PM
That's pretty much the opposite of how I hear Gould's Bach.  To me, he gives equal weight to each voice, so highlighting the tunes is not his thing.  It might apply to pianists such as Hewitt or Perahia.

I remember when I wrote that I was listening to Cpts 13 and 14 from AoF. I wasn't meaning that he just picks on one tune and shoves the other voices into the background, by the way. I just was really impressed by the way, with him, the melodies were always to the fore, that the music sounds very attractive melodically.

By the way, talking of GG, have you heard the "alternate version" he recorded of Brahms op 118 / 2, it's published by Sony, but wasn't on my CDs. I found it on spotify. Well worth hearing if you like Brahms.

Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: Mandryka on March 20, 2013, 01:29:18 PM
I've listened to Backhaus's solo Brahms on Naxos a few times, but I have yet to connect with it. It's very different than modern day pianists Brahms. So different that the first time I heard it, I hated it. I think Rubinstein is more successful at the non-nostalgic Brahms approach.

I listened to Richter's op. 119 from the late 50s Moscow (from a recent Olympia CD) last night and really loved it. There was a wonderful air of mystery in the air.   

It seems to be. I find the difference between Backhaus and Lupu to be vast. The latter I found instantly likeable, while the former almost seems to go out of it's way to not attract admirers.   

What is it you don't like about the Backhaus? Is it just that it confounds your expectations, after  listening to Lupu? I found it appealing straight away, just because it's so strong, dynamic and passionate.  In some ways he reminds me of Edwin Fischer, not in Brahms, but in Bach. In WTC. Just because Fischer has the same sort of drive and energy. (Backhaus isn't as  distinctive as Fischer in the way he plays counterpoint.)


I wonder what you think about Yudina's late Brahms - that's also very different from standard modern.

By the way, do try Schliessmann's op 118, which I've been really enjoying. It's on spotify. And as you know I like Richter in op 119, especially in that bootleg I sent you from London, where he seemed  to integrate all four pieces. (But then I like Backhaus's 1936 op 119 too  ;) )



Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: Mandryka on March 20, 2013, 01:40:56 PM
Mandryka: "I just wonder if Lupu-esque late Brahms style is a relatively modern construction."
I know no descriptions of how Brahms played his own works - but Florence May, for instance, who studied with him (after Clara Schumann) in the  early 70s,gave us her description of his playing of Bach: "It was my happiness to hear, amongst other things, his readings of many of the forty-eight preludes and fugues, and his playing of them, and especially of the preludes, impressed me with such force and vividness that I can hear it in memory still. His interpretation of Bach was always unconventional and quite unfettered by traditional theory, and he certainly did not share the opinion, which has had many distinguished adherents, that Bach's music should be performed in a simply flowing style. In the movements of the suites he liked variety of tone and touch, as well asa certain elasticity of tempo. His playing of many of the preludes and some of the fugues was a revelation of exquisite poems, and he performed them, not only with graduated shading, but with marked contrasts of tone effect. Each note of Bach's passages and figures contributed, in the hands of Brahms, to form melody which was instinct with feeling
of some kind or other. It might be deep pathos, or lighthearted playfulness and jollity ; impulsive energy, or soft and tender grace; but sentiment (as distinct from sentimentality) was always there; monotony never. 'Quite tender and quite soft,' was his frequent admonition to me, whilst in another place he would require the utmost impetuosity. He loved Bach's suspensions. ' It is here that it must sound,' he would say, pointing to the tied note, and insisting, whilst not allowing me to force the preparation, that the latter should be so struck as to give the fullest possible effect to the dissonance." Life of Johannes Brahms pp.16-17. This splendid book can be found on the Internet Archive.
While this gives us no direct clues to how he played his own later pieces, reading this one can imagine the combination of qualities he may have brought to them. Lupu is too studied and jewelled in his pathos, perhaps, to find approval in Brahms's ears. For me, Richter is the ideal in those later pieces he recorded, but he is, perhaps, a touch too marmoreal to correspond to the Brahmsian ideal, which sounds to me as if it was Schumannesque. Somehow I think of Egorov, but he recorded no Brahms that I know of. Perhaps Etelka Freund is the best model pianists should take cognizance of.

That's a very good quote, thanks for pointing it out. I'll seek out the book.

Egorov recorded some Brahms at a concert in Amsterdam. I remember thinking it was very good.

We do, of course, have a couple of recordings of Brahms himself playing   - for what it's worth.  ??? which is very little
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: George on March 20, 2013, 04:55:52 PM
What is it you don't like about the Backhaus?

He absolutely refuses to linger, to savor the music.
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: George on March 20, 2013, 04:57:24 PM
I wonder what you think about Yudina's late Brahms - that's also very different from standard modern.

I recall liking it more than Backhaus, but I forget why. However, I seem to recall she was a bit to "tough" in this music for me.
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: Octo_Russ on March 20, 2013, 08:59:16 PM
A Pianist that doesn't get quoted much is Michel Dalberto, he made a disc of the Ballades and Op117 & 118 on Erato which i find stunning, another disc that i have listened to quite extensively is Jorge Federico Osorio on the Handel Variations / Ballades, and it's one of my most favourite solo Brahms recordings, another Pianist that doesn't get quoted much is Stephen Kovacevich, i like him too.

I certainly second the Helene Grimaud / Erato disc, she takes things fairly fast, but she's thrilling too, and i must second Emmanuel Ax, some people really don't like him, i don't know why, he's better than Murray Perahia, i bought his latest disc and was a little disappointed, he sounds fairly ordinary.

A Pianist i wished would have recorded the whole Op116-119 is Clifford Curzon, i have a disc of the Piano Concerto 1, coupled with 2 Intermezzi, and they are certainly enlightening, a very under-recorded Artist, the same goes for Alfred Brendel, how i wish he would have recorded Op116-119.
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: Mandryka on March 20, 2013, 09:32:42 PM
He absolutely refuses to linger, to savor the music.

Correct. He doesn't wallow sentimentally.

If you want lingering and savouring, try this extraordinary Pogorelich performance of op 118/2 from Lisbon in 2008

http://youtube.com/v/AoETtRX61TM

I wonder whether people object to using music as a vehicle for personal purgation like this. And whether people hear sincerity or bathos. The performance reminds me in some ways of Hunt Lieberson's Ich Habe Genüg, in that it's her response to the music in the moment of performance which seems paramount. In both cases I find the candour really disorienting.
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: Mandryka on March 20, 2013, 09:34:13 PM
A Pianist that doesn't get quoted much is Michel Dalberto, he made a disc of the Ballades and Op117 & 118 on Erato which i find stunning, another disc that i have listened to quite extensively is Jorge Federico Osorio on the Handel Variations / Ballades, and it's one of my most favourite solo Brahms recordings, another Pianist that doesn't get quoted much is Stephen Kovacevich, i like him too.

I certainly second the Helene Grimaud / Erato disc, she takes things fairly fast, but she's thrilling too, and i must second Emmanuel Ax, some people really don't like him, i don't know why, he's better than Murray Perahia, i bought his latest disc and was a little disappointed, he sounds fairly ordinary.

A Pianist i wished would have recorded the whole Op116-119 is Clifford Curzon, i have a disc of the Piano Concerto 1, coupled with 2 Intermezzi, and they are certainly enlightening, a very under-recorded Artist, the same goes for Alfred Brendel, how i wish he would have recorded Op116-119.

Grimaud on Erato is a favourite of mine, much more so than her later records.
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: George on March 21, 2013, 06:26:00 AM
Correct. He doesn't wallow sentimentally.

If you want lingering and savouring, try this extraordinary Pogorelich performance of op 118/2 from Lisbon in 2008

I don't enjoy lingering to such an extent. I enjoy pianists who fall between the extremes of Backhaus and Pogorelich. Luckily, there are many.
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: Brian on March 28, 2013, 06:42:05 AM
HIP ALERT

(http://www.msrcd.com/cdcovers/cd414.jpg)

BRAHMS: LATE PIANO WORKS
The Composer's Piano
Brahms: Opp.116-119

GWENDOLYN MOK, piano
1868 Erard Grand Piano
1871 Streicher Grand Piano

http://www.msrcd.com/catalog/cd/MS1420
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: George on April 07, 2013, 02:27:26 AM
I've been listening to these works quite a bit over the past few days.  I think my particular favorite is Op 117 #1.  Through the happy magic of iTunes, last night I pulled together a playlist of the six versions I have on CD (Kuerti, Ax, Grimaud, Katchen, Lupu, and Nat), and downloaded sample tracks of Kempff and Gould to make eight. 

To my surprise, I found Emanuel Ax to be the most enjoyable, followed by Lupu and Gould.  Ax never seems to get much attention, either in these parts or from critics, but I thought his performance here brought just the right emotional touch to the piece, understated without being flat, nostalgic without becoming sentimental.  Very enjoyable.

Any other Ax Brahms fans here? I got his Op. 116 and 119 last night and I am listening to it now. Definitely middle of the road interpretively, IMO.
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: George on April 07, 2013, 02:29:16 AM
HIP ALERT

(http://www.msrcd.com/cdcovers/cd414.jpg)

From that angle, I an not seeing it. Perhaps in an inner sleeve photo?  ;)
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: George on April 07, 2013, 03:00:21 AM
Any other Ax Brahms fans here? I got his Op. 116 and 119 last night and I am listening to it now. Definitely middle of the road interpretively, IMO.

His Op. 118 is a lot better, though. More emotional impact in the quieter moments, even if the more boisterous passages are lightweight.
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: Geo Dude on April 17, 2013, 07:17:06 AM
For the HIP nuts (like me) this is a great recording:

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/511rn-Nn-qL._SX300_.jpg)
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: George on April 19, 2013, 10:15:57 PM
(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51RA2piz-5L.jpg)

Rather than the usual intimate, scaled-down style in which these works are usually played, Rudy plays them in a more virtuosic manner. Poetic beauty, Wide dynamic range, impeccable technique, this is some fine Brahms playing.
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: yeongil on April 20, 2013, 07:24:56 AM
Any comments about Anna Gourari's recording?  I got it recently.
(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51EsV7DlqUL.jpg)
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: Mandryka on April 20, 2013, 09:07:57 AM
(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51RA2piz-5L.jpg)

Rather than the usual intimate, scaled-down style in which these works are usually played, Rudy plays them in a more virtuosic manner. Poetic beauty, Wide dynamic range, impeccable technique, this is some fine Brahms playing.

Tonally he's quite hard, but he's not as tender as Alexis Weissenberg (who recorded 118/2). I don"t like Rudy in those late pieces much, the way you describe him is the way I hear him.

I remember liking Rudy in the op9 Schumann Variations, but when I went back to it just now I thought that Katchen was much more interesting.



Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: Mandryka on April 20, 2013, 09:13:01 AM
Any comments about Anna Gourari's recording?  I got it recently.
(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51EsV7DlqUL.jpg)

I listened to her in op 118/ 2 after hearing Rudy and Weissenberg.  This is very soothing playing, I felt really that what she's about is swelling crescendos  and beauty, playing to make you swoon.

Maybe one of you two would try Burkard Schliessmann in op 118 and tell me what you think. I like what I hear more and more from him in Brahms, so much so that I'm tempted to try his Handel Variations. He's  on spotify, but not the Handel Variations unfortunately.
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: George on April 22, 2013, 02:11:41 AM
Tonally he's quite hard, but he's not as tender as Alexis Weissenberg (who recorded 118/2). I don"t like Rudy in those late pieces much, the way you describe him is the way I hear him.

I remember liking Rudy in the op9 Schumann Variations, but when I went back to it just now I thought that Katchen was much more interesting.

Yes, Katchen is better there for sure.
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: amw on February 18, 2016, 04:42:11 AM
Rec me some good recordings of 118 and 119 that have coherent emotional trajectories through the sets. (I don't think 116 and 117 can be presented as unified works in the same way.) Ideally, performances that cannot be described with words like "autumnal warmth" "melancholy" "nostalgia" "Wilhelm Kempff"

I have:
Afanassiev, Boyde, Grimaud (Denon 1992) (118 only), Rittner

I don't have, but know:
Backhaus (Naxos 1936) (118 only), Grimaud (Erato 1996), Katchen, Kempff (DG 1964), Lupu
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: Tonus Peregrinus on February 18, 2016, 05:32:37 AM
Try Anderson, Goode, Perahia & Rösel...excluding your lists

for the warmth lovers, Ax
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: George on February 18, 2016, 05:44:07 AM
Rec me some good recordings of 118 and 119 that have coherent emotional trajectories through the sets. (I don't think 116 and 117 can be presented as unified works in the same way.) Ideally, performances that cannot be described with words like "autumnal warmth" "melancholy" "nostalgia" "Wilhelm Kempff"

I have:
Afanassiev, Boyde, Grimaud (Denon 1992) (118 only), Rittner

I don't have, but know:
Backhaus (Naxos 1936) (118 only), Grimaud (Erato 1996), Katchen, Kempff (DG 1964), Lupu

Maybe Lupu.

Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: North Star on February 18, 2016, 06:10:25 AM
I recall liking Kovacevich a fair bit in 116-119, but it's a long time since I've heard the music. Rösel, too.
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: Mandryka on February 18, 2016, 07:23:30 AM
Rec me some good recordings of 118 and 119 that have coherent emotional trajectories through the sets. (I don't think 116 and 117 can be presented as unified works in the same way.) Ideally, performances that cannot be described with words like "autumnal warmth" "melancholy" "nostalgia" "Wilhelm Kempff"


Start with Yudina.

After that, if you still need more of this stuff, there's Gould, Pogorelich,  Sokolov, Antonin Kubalek (maybe more autumnal warmth than you want, I'd have to listen again and I don't want to), Hamelin, Leonskaja, Gilels.

I can't remember if Hamelin was very very good or very very bad, but he was very very something.

There's also a fabulous op 119 from Richter which was never released commercially. And then there's Schliessmann and Virssaladze, but I can't remember anything about either of them but I bet they have things to say.
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: Jo498 on February 18, 2016, 07:56:18 AM
I admit that I hardly thought of them as "suites" with one trajectory. While I have not heard many recordings, I think Katchen is sometimes underrated. In any case he is much better than might be expected by "complete recording routine" and he is not autumnal or Kempff-like either.
All (late) Brahms by Rubinstein is very good but I don't think he played any of the late opuses complete.
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on February 18, 2016, 10:02:55 AM
Ideally, performances that cannot be described with words like "autumnal warmth" "melancholy" "nostalgia" "Wilhelm Kempff"

Your descriptors in bold can be found in Brahms's music starting right from his op.1 piano sonata. He didn't shy away from any of these qualities no matter what the period of his life. Being a lifelong Brahms fan I've found that the idea that he hit his "autumnal" period only later in life doesn't hold much water.

So trying to dodge this in his music isn't likely to produce results. I can't imagine many performers willing to excise from the music what is inherently a vital part of it. It's music on its own terms or it's not music. Brahms may be a tough nut to crack (for some) but I'm doubtful of the success rate if the music is half choked-off.

Quote
I have:
Afanassiev, Boyde, Grimaud (Denon 1992) (118 only), Rittner

I don't have, but know:
Backhaus (Naxos 1936) (118 only), Grimaud (Erato 1996), Katchen, Kempff (DG 1964), Lupu

The fact that you have or "know" the above - and none of them apparently meet your criteria - should be proof enough that the music, well, is what it is. Of course that may not be what you want to hear, though. ;D

That said, I've been most moved by this music by Goode, Lupu, Paik, Gilels, and Richter. Whether or not they're "un-Kempff" enough for you I couldn't say. ;D
 
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: bwv 1080 on February 18, 2016, 10:14:48 AM
aside from Katchen, Kempf and Rubenstein always been partial to this one:

(http://cps-static.rovicorp.com/3/JPG_400/MI0001/002/MI0001002717.jpg?partner=allrovi.com)
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: Holden on February 18, 2016, 11:14:23 AM
Start with Yudina.

After that, if you still need more of this stuff, there's Gould, Pogorelich,  Sokolov, Antonin Kubalek (maybe more autumnal warmth than you want, I'd have to listen again and I don't want to), Hamelin, Leonskaja, Gilels.

I can't remember if Hamelin was very very good or very very bad, but he was very very something.

There's also a fabulous op 119 from Richter which was never released commercially. And then there's Schliessmann and Virssaladze, but I can't remember anything about either of them but I bet they have things to say.

After I heard the 2nd PC I wanted to hear Richter in more Brahms. Any idea where we can listen to the Richter Op 119?
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: Mandryka on February 18, 2016, 11:15:58 AM
You know, it would be interesting to know the origin of  the idea that these late pieces are inherently autumnal and nostalgic, rather than passionate and vigorous. The tradition of playing them in a strong way is pretty old - at least as old as Backhaus in 1936 and then there's Tiegemann and possibly others, I can't remember. I don't like autumnal performances much myself, I feel they deprive the music of its most vital element.
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: Mandryka on February 18, 2016, 11:16:39 AM
After I heard the 2nd PC I wanted to hear Richter in more Brahms. Any idea where we can listen to the Richter Op 119?

I'll send you something later.
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: Jo498 on February 18, 2016, 11:36:37 AM
I am not equally familiar with all of them (an usually cannot remember the numbers). But the very last one, the "rhapsody" 119,4 was one of the first solo Brahms pieces I encountered and it has always struck me as one of the most obviously powerful and vigorous pieces I have heard.
Some others (the one with the "dies irae" like beginning) are way too dark to be "autumnal". Some are so serenely lyrical that I'd rather associate them with summer than autumn. But of course there are also "autumnal" ones. Whatever that means...
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: amw on February 18, 2016, 01:27:45 PM
I admit that I hardly thought of them as "suites" with one trajectory. While I have not heard many recordings, I think Katchen is sometimes underrated. In any case he is much better than might be expected by "complete recording routine" and he is not autumnal or Kempff-like either.
I can accept them as individual pieces, but I've become increasingly interested in the idea of a superstructure (they weren't written as units—but there had to be a reason Brahms chose certain individual pieces for certain sets, and put them in certain orders). I do really like Katchen's record of the late pieces. If they were available on their own I'd probably have them, as it is I stream them

So trying to dodge this in his music isn't likely to produce results. I can't imagine many performers willing to excise from the music what is inherently a vital part of it.
I don't think it is a vital part. 118/1 and 119/1 are certainly tinged with regret and melancholy no matter how you play them, 118/2 can also be done that way but is more contented and lyrical in nature, after that both cycles take very different paths.

Quote
The fact that you have or "know" the above - and none of them apparently meet your criteria
Some of them do. I liked Backhaus a lot, Rittner, the earlier Grimaud one, Katchen... even Afanassiev is interesting in an analytical sort of way iirc. Only one I really disliked was Kempff, which is why I put his name up there. (Bear in mind that I do not really buy music and rarely collect alternate recordings.) I made the list so people know what I've already heard when making recommendations >_>

Thanks everyone for the suggestions. Short descriptions of each one might be helpful as well, rather than just lists.
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: Mandryka on February 19, 2016, 12:10:03 AM
I listened to some of Burkard Schliessmann's op 116 today, it's on spotify, really because this thread came up and because I got a lot of interesting things from his new recording of Chopin preludes, also on spotify. Anyway I think it's well worth catching, more so than his op 117, and it shows what rubbish the idea that autumnal nostalgia is a vital part is - that way of playing it seems to me to have done the reception of the music more harm than good in fact, reducing it to grandad stuff.

There's a "mystical" quality to the music sometimes, in the 116 intermezzo for example.  Sort of thing people find in late Beethoven but I hadn't noticed before in late Brahms. And a sort of psychological quality, hallucinatory, sort of thing I associate more with Chopin.

Some of them do. I liked Backhaus a lot,

That one from 1936(?) is so different from all his other Brahms recordings, it makes me wonder what he was on that night. And why he never took it again, it would have done his music making some good.
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: Mandryka on February 19, 2016, 12:30:20 AM
The most interesting performance of anything I've heard from op 119 is Yudina's op 119/2. SHe writes this about it -- and her performance is a good reflection of what she writes:

Quote
"VI. Meanwhile, in the e-moll Intermezzo Op. 119, No. 2, anxiety turns into trembling in the scheme and construction of the repeated fragile chords of the sixteenths. However, we hear a glimpse of hope also in this intermezzo in measures [36-71] in the E-dur episode. It sounds to us as an echo of German romantic music, its light yearning to the infinite. Inevitably we have to recall also Pushkin's

It's time, my friend, it's time! The peace is craved by hearts...
Days flow after days -- each hour departs
A bit of life ...
("It's time, my friend, ...", 1834).
[Translated by Ye. Bonver]

Nevertheless the E-dur fragment is relatively less significant, the music mostly glides, struggles, trembles in whisper, night's rustle, in darkness and unknown - we come to the theme of Tyutchev's "Day and Night" and "Twilight"

The hour of inexpressible yearning!
Everything is in me, and I am in everything!...
and to "Hymns to the Night" by Novalis (Friedrich von Hardenberg, an ingenious young man, who had a tremendous influence on the later romantic poetry and music as well), and we recall also Vyacheslav Ivanov, his marvelous poetic thoughts about the "eternal rotation", as in the fragments of his "Daybreak"

The sound of steps is majestic,!
And clatter of hooves in the darkness of night!!
And how hostile is the stare!
Of blind pre-morning rays!!
Everything, shaking, is suddenly heavy,!
Hurrying to burden and yoke,!
The free night soul!
Enters its daylight body!!
("Cor Ardens", I)!
However, he himself celebrated the Sun and Sun-Heart:

Oh, the Sun, guide, Angel of God!!
("Cor Ardens", I)!
Let us recall the liturgical text, at the end of the Vespers service:

Glory to you, who has shown us Light!

If both of these intermezzi have not found Light and have not resurrected with Him, then we, my reader and listener, as well are confounded and lost; night, fear, mystery, incomprehensible, shimmer of hope, and its crash.
-Where are we? Whom are we with?
We arrived with Brahms in both of these intermezzi to the bottom of one of the greatest Works of Art, "the tragedy of tragedies", to Shakespeare, to "Hamlet"."

The "both" refers to op 117/2, which she thinks is the soul sister of 119/2 -- both for her are full of anxiety.

Apart from Yudina I've heard a complete performance of op 119 from Richter, from Varese in the 1990s. Unpublished. It was remarkable for the way he made all four movements sound integrated, as if I was listening to a single four movement sonata. I can share the Richter performance with anyone who's interested.
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: Mandryka on February 19, 2016, 12:38:12 AM
Furtwangler wrote some very condemning things about late Brahms, or at least prima facie they sound condemning. He said that the stuff Brahms was writing in the 1890s is extremely old fashioned, he actually said it wasn't much different harmonically from Schubert's music from 70 years before. I don't know enough about music to say whether Furtwangler was right about that judgement. Maybe someone will comment.

Furtwangler rather disingenuously tries to rush to Brahms's defence with something I can't make head or tail of. He says: Brahms is the first great musician, in whose case historical meaning and meaning as an artistic personality no longer coincide: that this was so, was not his fault, but rather that of his epoch.

What does that mean?

These comments are taken from Furtwangler's essay "Brahms and the crisis of our times."
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: Mandryka on February 19, 2016, 12:40:19 AM
I am not equally familiar with all of them (an usually cannot remember the numbers). But the very last one, the "rhapsody" 119,4 was one of the first solo Brahms pieces I encountered and it has always struck me as one of the most obviously powerful and vigorous pieces I have heard.


When I first started to listen to Brahms I really hated op 119/4. I thought it was just hectoring and boisterous The first time I heard a performance which made me take that piece more seriously was when I came across the record Helene Grimaud made for Erato --she manages to find plenty of moody and brooding music in there, and the opening bars sound more noble than complacent. Since then I've found some others who I like in op 119/4, especially Van Cliburn and Myra  Hess, who are probably my favourites with it really, and a really jolly interpretation of it by Beveridge Webster on youtube. There's also the totally off the wall crazy one from Elly Ney., which has the fascination of watching a train wreck. Rudolph Serkin also managed to wreck it I think, but this time the result is less fascinating.

One extraordinary thing about it is that there's a record of it by Benno Moiseiwitsch. Quite why this ultra smooth silk-underpants pianist should have picked this as one of his two  pieces of late Brahms to record is a mystery to me. You can hear Moiseiwitsch try to capture a mood swing/schizoid quality - for you to decide whether the interpretation is successful. I think it's magnificent. Many pianists have avoided it, Maria Yudina and Glen Gould and Wilhelm Backhaus for example, at least as far as I know. Richter played it, but very rarely, while he played the op 119 intermezzi all through his career.

My favourite op 119 is the second.

Sometimes I wonder whether op 119 is experimental - a late experiment. Anyway, with 119/4 he said good bye to piano music with a bang!
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: EigenUser on February 19, 2016, 02:20:16 AM
When I first started to listen to Brahms I really hated op 119/4. I thought it was just hectoring and boisterous The first time I heard a performance which made me take that piece more seriously was when I came across the record Helene Grimaud made for Erato --she manages to find plenty of moody and brooding music in there, and the opening bars sound more noble than complacent. Since then I've found some others who I like in op 119/4, especially Van Cliburn and Myra  Hess, who are probably my favourites with it really, and a really jolly interpretation of it by Beveridge Webster on youtube. There's also the totally off the wall crazy one from Elly Ney., which has the fascination of watching a train wreck. Rudolph Serkin also managed to wreck it I think, but this time the result is less fascinating.

One extraordinary thing about it is that there's a record of it by Benno Moiseiwitsch. Quite why this ultra smooth silk-underpants pianist should have picked this as one of his two  pieces of late Brahms to record is a mystery to me. You can hear Moiseiwitsch try to capture a mood swing/schizoid quality - for you to decide whether the interpretation is successful. I think it's magnificent. Many pianists have avoided it, Maria Yudina and Glen Gould and Wilhelm Backhaus for example, at least as far as I know. Richter played it, but very rarely, while he played the op 119 intermezzi all through his career.

My favourite op 119 is the second.

Sometimes I wonder whether op 119 is experimental - a late experiment. Anyway, with 119/4 he said good bye to piano music with a bang!
Ahhh, I love the Rhapsody!!! Although I'm not sure why he called it a rhapsody. Sounds too stately and organized. Reminds me a bit of the Academic Festival Overture.
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: Jo498 on February 19, 2016, 02:40:36 AM
I do not really understand the title either (but the op.79 rhapsodies are also very tightly organized, compared to e.g. Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsodies). It's an uncommonly heroic piece for Brahms, almost brutal at beginning and end. Like a defiant ending of the opus, although the heroic gestures of the beginnings are partly "dissolved" in the proceding.
Similar "defiance despite defeat" can be found in the codas of the outer movements of the 4th symphony (but without dissolving).
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: Mandryka on February 22, 2016, 05:18:39 AM
Amw - I think you should try Piet Kuijken's CD, it's on spotify, the instrument makes a big difference.  Kuijken has a strong personality. I'd forgotten how contrapuntally interesting the music is.

I've also been enjoying Schliessman - also on spotify.
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: amw on February 25, 2016, 03:55:08 AM
Haha I forgot I even posted in this thread wow. Cold medicine ;_;

I just listened to Piet Kuijken's Op. 116 and it's very good—slow, methodical and expressive. He's a bit less excitable and "Romantic" than Hardy Rittner whom I'm listening to now in the same piece(s), and makes a bit more unity out of them, though I don't feel the pieces are comparable to Op. 118 in that regard. I miss the last bit of intimacy in 116/5 (the E minor intermezzo, one of Brahms's most personal works) but 116/4 and especially 116/7 are splendid.

I really don't want another Sonata Op. 5 (have a few recordings already and don't even like it, but people keep putting it on albums with things I do like) so haven't bought, but even so it's worth having this as a contrast to Rittner, whose Brahms (in general) is vigourous and youthful, passionate, but maybe too fireworksy for some. Their instruments sound very different as well.

Not holding out for an 118/119 (or anything else much) as getting Piet to record anything is like herding cats—I only know of one other album, a Schumann double on Fuga Libera which is also very good and avoids any kind of showiness, whether in physical virtuosity or in emotional display. But if one does appear I won't hesitate as much as with this one >_>
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: Mandryka on February 25, 2016, 08:11:08 AM

 Rittner, whose Brahms (in general) is vigourous and youthful, passionate, but maybe too fireworksy for some. Their instruments sound very different as well.



Yes that ties in with my impression of Rittner in op 76/79. How did you get to hear his op 116 - 119 - is it up for streaming somewhere?
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: amw on February 25, 2016, 02:39:46 PM
Yes that ties in with my impression of Rittner in op 76/79. How did you get to hear his op 116 - 119 - is it up for streaming somewhere?
No, I paid for it some time ago (probably whenever Qobuz had an offer on MDG). It probably can be acquired through free channels of questionable legality as well; the label doesn't grant any permissions for streaming that I know of, and they seem to get pirated a lot. Correlation/causation >.>

It was worth the €9 or whatever, though.
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: George on March 14, 2016, 09:17:36 AM
What do folks think of Angelich's late Brahms?
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: Mandryka on March 14, 2016, 09:32:40 AM
What do folks think of Angelich's late Brahms?

Not so special.
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: George on October 25, 2017, 03:54:52 PM
(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51f5sQrO9eL.jpg)

Today I decided to compare the first movement of some of my recordings of Op. 116, specifically Kovacevich, Angelich and the above Rudy set. (https://www.amazon.com/Brahms-Works-Piano-Mikhail-Rudy/dp/B00004Z4XK/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8) The Kovacevich was powerful and impressive, he played the first movement like a panther, but I wasn't in the mood tonight for that kind of playing. Also, he sounded a little young for late Brahms. The Angelich was played in a similar manner, so I then tried Rudy and found it much more to my taste, as the playing was somewhat more laid back. I listened to Rudy's entire Op. 116 and really enjoyed it. The piano sound sparkled, the slow movements were played with great tenderness and intimacy. I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised, as I has originally bought this set because I have admired a number of Rudy's other recordings. I rate Rudy's Rachmaninoff Piano Concertos with Jansons quite highly, in fact, I feel his EMI set is the best complete set, for performance and sound. So now I plan to listen to more of the above set in the coming days and hope to enjoy his Op. 117-119 as much as his Op. 116.
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: George on October 27, 2017, 04:09:36 PM
Just to follow up, although I have certainly heard better, I enjoyed Rudy's Op. 117 somewhat, but the more extroverted works in Op. 118 were played too over the top for me. He plays them like a virtuoso in a large concert hall, and for me, that style doesn't fit here.

I think I will revisit Gieseking's 1951 recordings, Angelich's Virgin recordings and Lupu's Decca Brahms (along with his Schubert) recordings next.
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: Todd on October 27, 2017, 04:25:39 PM
Just to follow up, although I have certainly heard better, I enjoyed Rudy's Op. 117 somewhat, but the more extroverted works in Op. 118 were played too over the top for me. He plays them like a virtuoso in a large concert hall, and for me, that style doesn't fit here.


Rudy generally doesn't get enough love.  I'm hoping Warner does a big box at some point.
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: Oldnslow on October 30, 2017, 12:10:11 PM
Rudy's Janacek and Liszt are also very fine. An excellent pianist, and still active in Europe I believe
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: San Antone on October 30, 2017, 12:43:45 PM
Rudy's Janacek and Liszt are also very fine. An excellent pianist, and still active in Europe I believe

Yes, I was going to mention his excellent recording of the Liszt Sonata in B Minor.
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: Elk on November 05, 2017, 04:40:16 AM
This may be my 1st post. I do not have the extensive collections that many of you have, but these pieces, as well as other late Brahms'works, are among my favourites (I'm Canadian; hence, the British spelling).

My next door neighbour studied to be a concert pianist and performed at the Warsaw Chopin Competition. I invite her over sometimes to listen blind to different piano interpretations, Like the time we listened to Richter's WTC, the Melodya and RCA releases. She listens blind, not knowing what is coming or who is playing. On this particular occasion, we both preferred the LP, surface noise and all, to the RCA CD because the engineers of the CD had not only reduced the tape hiss, but also the 'air' of the concert venue, but that is another story...

I have Gilels' Op. 116, Grimaud's Erato, both of Kocacevich's forays, Lupu's, Angelich's, and lastly Alexeev's. One night we listened to but one intermezzo. She gave her impressions first, and we both agreed that Alexeev swept the field, not only with his interpretation, which seemed to reach the very heart of the music, but also with the recorded sound, which while analogue, made the piano sound tangibly in the room, with wonderful bass extension (not bloated like the Lupu).

While satisfied with the Alexeev, you all have made me want to expand my collection in the usual search for more perfection. I thank you.
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: George on November 05, 2017, 07:35:47 AM
This may be my 1st post. I do not have the extensive collections that many of you have, but these pieces, as well as other late Brahms'works, are among my favourites (I'm Canadian; hence, the British spelling).

My next door neighbour studied to be a concert pianist and performed at the Warsaw Chopin Competition. I invite her over sometimes to listen blind to different piano interpretations, Like the time we listened to Richter's WTC, the Melodya and RCA releases. She listens blind, not knowing what is coming or who is playing. On this particular occasion, we both preferred the LP, surface noise and all, to the RCA CD because the engineers of the CD had not only reduced the tape hiss, but also the 'air' of the concert venue, but that is another story...

I have Gilels' Op. 116, Grimaud's Erato, both of Kocacevich's forays, Lupu's, Angelich's, and lastly Alexeev's. One night we listened to but one intermezzo. She gave her impressions first, and we both agreed that Alexeev swept the field, not only with his interpretation, which seemed to reach the very heart of the music, but also with the recorded sound, which while analogue, made the piano sound tangibly in the room, with wonderful bass extension (not bloated like the Lupu).

While satisfied with the Alexeev, you all have made me want to expand my collection in the usual search for more perfection. I thank you.

Welcome to the forum!

And thanks for the reminder about Alexeev.
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: Mandryka on April 16, 2018, 03:35:47 AM
(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/719sagVx27L._SY355_.jpg)

Volodos can play piano very well, his control of dynamics especially is impressive. Tempos are slow and the mood is reflective. It's well recorded.

Sometimes Volodos indulges himself and his listeners by letting a note ring out a little longer than expected, so that we can savour just how beautiful it is.   Is he being narcissistic?

In addition to the beautiful purified coherent resounding modern piano sound, there's passion too. So what's not to like?

I'll tell you what's not to like - Volodos plays late Brahms as if it's music for grandad. You can imagine Granma squirming with pleasure at the beauty of it all. There's no youth, no anger, nothing threatening. It's romantic, it's consoling. Like hollandaise sauce without the lemon juice, it's rich.

Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: amw on April 16, 2018, 04:10:04 AM
Most of the reason I listen to that recording is for the sheer pleasure of hearing perfect piano technique and a level of tonal command that historic recordings can't reproduce; a bit like listening to Lhevinne in modern sound. I find he has a coherent vision for the Op.117 and Op.118 pieces and treats each opus as a cycle, which is often hard to bring out. Are there interpretations I like better? Probably, but the piano playing always sounds crude and unrefined by comparison, even from the likes of Lupu or Sokolov.
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: Mandryka on April 16, 2018, 04:26:01 AM
Most of the reason I listen to that recording is for the sheer pleasure of hearing perfect piano technique and a level of tonal command that historic recordings can't reproduce; a bit like listening to Lhevinne in modern sound. I find he has a coherent vision for the Op.117 and Op.118 pieces and treats each opus as a cycle, which is often hard to bring out. Are there interpretations I like better? Probably, but the piano playing always sounds crude and unrefined by comparison, even from the likes of Lupu or Sokolov.

Yes, I can imagine you're right about this, and it is really very delicious.
Title: Re: Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.
Post by: Mandryka on April 17, 2018, 08:00:25 PM
(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/71lMMQPxC8L._SX522_.jpg)

A Handel Variations from Christopher Park, quite transparent piano sound, which is all to the good because part of Park's shtick is to do with voicing - he makes this music sound more like a cheerful study in polyphony than I had recalled. This is a most congenial Handel Variations - Park plays with a twinkle in his eye, a jolly happy smile always. This made me feel that he brings two things  to the music which are nice to hear once in a while: irony and lightness. Or maybe it's just my mood when I listened . . . who knows?