Ivan Fischer's version of these ever-popular classics is as valid an essay in stylistic restoration as the most scholarly period-instrument performance of Bach or Handel… The transcriptions have been reworked and in one or two movements an improvised cimbalom part has been added, played by a well-known Hungarian musician, Kalman Balogh. Not a record for purists perhaps, but I found the results invigorating and thought-provoking.- S.J. Gramophone, March 1987.
I haven't enjoyed a set of performances of the Hungarian Dances so much since I played them with the local youth orchestra at the age of 14. In a way, Ivan Fischer's version of these ever-popular classics is as valid an essay in stylistic restoration as the most scholarly period-instrument performance of Bach or Handel. - S.J. Gramophone, March 1987.
This recording presents the CD debut on Brilliant Classics of the Gutman Trio, named after Natalia Gutman, world famous cellist, one of the few surviving of the generation of 20th century soviet musicians, like Richter, Gilels, Kogan, Kagan, Rostropovich and Oistrakh. For their debut CD they chose two of the cornerstones of the romantic piano trio repertoire, the first and third piano trio by Brahms. The first trio Op. 8 is a gorgeous work from Brahms' early years, brimming with youthful passion and vitality; the third trio is in C minor mood, dark, grim and powerful.
In the age of Argerich, who brings tightrope-walker tension to chamber music, I doubt that anyone plays the Brahms piano trios with the kind of mellow lushness heard here. Katchen's conception of Brahms was large-scaled but smooth, warm without much psychological struggle. Suk was a honey-toned violinist, and although Starker was the modernist among the three, what's notable here is how perfectly in unison he is with Suk (and blissfully in tune). Decca puts the piano in the middle and the string players close up in their own channels left and right. The result is wide-screen and artificial, of course, since it makes the cello sound as loud as the piano. but the sonic effect is quite luscious.
I've saved my remarks about te interpretations for last. The Brahms trios have attracted great collaborations, and I wouldn't place this one above, say, Istomin-Stern-Rose although it runs ahead of the Beaux Art Trio, for sheer beauty of tone if nothing else. The shortcoming here is a tendency toward cautiousness; these are middle-of-the-road readings that don't capture Brahms' deepest passions. He is placed in the sun too often. But the first two trios aren't sturm and drang works. If you want large-scale performances caught in gorgeous sound, here you go.
–Amazon.com [4 stars] reviewer
There's nothing revelatory in this live recording of Brahms' two piano concertos by an American pianist, Japanese conductor, and Australian orchestra. That is, except for the music itself. Pianist Garrick Ohlsson, with an octave-and-a-half reach equal to Brahms' own, has the power for the titanic Beethovenian gestures of the Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor, Op. 15, and for its foot-stomper of a finale, which is as good a place as any for the neophyte classical listener to start. Ohlsson is equally adept in catching the spacious and subtle dimensions of the second concerto, which one Viennese critic termed a symphony with piano obbligato.
This Zimerman recording of the Brahms Piano Concerto no. 1 may have received some critical lambasting when it was originally released. However, despite this, I find that this recording is unjustly underrated because in its own special way it plumbs the depths of Brahms' heart and soul. Zimerman, although he recorded this in his late-twenties, interprets the solo part with insight, and does not go over-the-top with pianistic pyrotechnics, as most other pianists tend to do. Bernstein leads the Viennese musicians in a sympathetic accompaniment that serves as a perfect foil to Zimerman's parts and allows him to integrate into the orchestral texture. And the DG recording, although not entirely clear, is characterised by the atmosphere and bloom of the Vienna Musikverein, despite the extreme forward balance of the piano.