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Brahms - Piano Works for Four Hands, Vol 9 [CD]

Johannes Brahms Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Product details

  • Composer: Johannes Brahms
  • Audio CD (29 Sep 2003)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Naxos
  • ASIN: B0000CDJK7
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 414,042 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Samples
Song Title Time Price
Listen  1. Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor, Op. 15 (version for piano 4 hands) x: I. Maestoso24:41Album Only
Listen  2. Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor, Op. 15 (version for piano 4 hands) x: II. Adagio15:17Album Only
Listen  3. Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor, Op. 15 (version for piano 4 hands) x: III. Rondo: Allegro non troppo13:28Album Only
Listen  4. Academic Festival Overture, Op. 80 (arr. piano 4-hands): Academic Festival Overture, Op. 8010:00Album Only


Product Description

NAX 8554116; NAXOS - Germania; Classica da camera Piano

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By J Scott Morrison HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Audio CD
I've obtained and vastly enjoyed every single one of this Naxos series of music by Brahms for four-hand piano duet featuring the team of Silka-Thora Matthies and Christian Kohn. Months ago I'd learned of the plans for this particular issue featuring a four-hand version of the First Piano Concerto, the ninth in the series, and have been eagerly awaiting its arrival. It has finally been issued and I have to say that it is a complete triumph.
I had not known, until this issue was announced, that there was ever a four-hand version of the First Piano Concerto. I had known (and played at the keyboard) the two-piano version, which is simply the solo concerto part with a single-piano reduction of the orchestral score. But this version was published in 1874, even before the two-piano version, and indeed one learns from the excellent booklet notes by Keith Anderson that that original version of this concerto was as a two-piano sonata, another fact I had not known.
Still I had some concerns about how this monumental score, with its complex orchestral polyphony and massive piano part, would be reduced for piano four-hands. I needn't have worried. It's all here, and sounds as natural as daylight. There are only a few places where there are some noticeable octave displacements and a few others where one misses the instrumental qualities one can only get from the orchestral accompaniment. And I detected several spots in the first movement where a bit of the accompanimental texture is lightened, with one contrapuntal strand left out. Otherwise, in my opinion, this version can stand as a valid presentation of Brahms's thinking. And of course this concerto is the most symphonic of all piano concerti written up to its time of composition.
As to the playing, it is nonpareil.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful four-hand piano transcription 18 Nov 2012
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I am an amateur of orchestral and opera piano transcriptions and after my 16-CD purchase of "Liszt at the Opera/Theatre" with Leslie Howard, I had to whet my appetite for other works. I already have several piano transcriptions, among them Beethoven's Symphonies with Cyprien Katsaris and The Magic Flute by the duo Namekawa-Davies and when I saw that Brahms own piano transcriptions of his symphonies and piano concertos are available on CD by Naxos, I did not dilly-dally in purchasing volumes 6 to 9. The orchestral version by the tandem Pollini-Abbado is as wonderful as the four-hand piece, executed with brio and maestria by the duo Matthies and Köhn. The piano sounds at its best, technologically and acoustically enhanced. There is no moment of boredom but only flowing pure music pleasure. I totally agree with Mr. Morrison of Vermont and thus no need to repeat what he has clearly stated in his own review. Spectacular execution, much better than the symphonies. I have visited the Matthies-Köhn pages on Naxos and the Second Piano Concerto is forthcoming. I cannot wait for its release, as well as my wish for their performing (if this version exists) of the Violin Concerto, either for four-hands or two pianos.
Highly recommended, indeed.
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Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Triumphant Series Continues with a Real Rarity 27 Nov 2003
By J Scott Morrison - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
I've obtained and vastly enjoyed every single one of this Naxos series of music by Brahms for four-hand piano duet featuring the team of Silka-Thora Matthies and Christian Kohn. Months ago I'd learned of the plans for this particular issue featuring a four-hand version of the First Piano Concerto, the ninth in the series, and have been eagerly awaiting its arrival. It has finally been issued and I have to say that it is a complete triumph.
I had not known, until this issue was announced, that there was ever a four-hand version of the First Piano Concerto. I had known (and played at the keyboard) the two-piano version, which is simply the solo concerto part with a single-piano reduction of the orchestral score. But this version was published in 1874, even before the two-piano version, and indeed one learns from the excellent booklet notes by Keith Anderson that that original version of this concerto was as a two-piano sonata, another fact I had not known.
Still I had some concerns about how this monumental score, with its complex orchestral polyphony and massive piano part, would be reduced for piano four-hands. I needn't have worried. It's all here, and sounds as natural as daylight. There are only a few places where there are some noticeable octave displacements and a few others where one misses the instrumental qualities one can only get from the orchestral accompaniment. And I detected several spots in the first movement where a bit of the accompanimental texture is lightened, with one contrapuntal strand left out. Otherwise, in my opinion, this version can stand as a valid presentation of Brahms's thinking. And of course this concerto is the most symphonic of all piano concerti written up to its time of composition.
As to the playing, it is nonpareil. This piano duet team is simply spectacular in their musicality, their technical abilities. One must also note that the sound of the piano being recorded is rich and full as well, but with clarity (so necessary for bringing out polyphonic voices) and a slight and needed edge in the upper register. So much of Brahms's writing emphasizes close harmonies in the bass and that can get muddy in piano recordings, but that is not the case here. The bass is full and rounded and utterly clear. Just listen to those thunderous trills in the opening measures! Huzzah to the recording engineers as well.
The filler piece, a four-hand reduction of the 'Academic Festival Overture,' is slightly less successful if only because one misses the contributions made by orchestral color. Still, it is jolly, forward-moving and very nicely played.
I don't know what else, if anything, is forthcoming in this wonderful series, but you can bet I'll be getting it when it is issued. Whosever idea it was to issue this series gets my heartfelt thanks (and that of other Brahms-lovers of my acquaintance).
Heartily recommended.
TT=63:20
Scott Morrison
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional performance, interesting to compare, but not perfect sound 11 Mar 2006
By Michael Cammer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Releasing recordings of the 4 hand arrangements was a great idea. And these are performed exceptionally. For those of us who don't read music, it is fascinating to listen back-to-back with a full orchestral version to hear what Brahms felt were the essential parts to try to capture in the piano abbreviations. And Matthies and Kohn play very well. The only drawback is that these recordings sound a bit tinny. But I'm glad I have them and also like some of the other 4 hand arrangement CDs they've released.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Abundantly listenable, excellent sound quality (not muddy, no echos). 10 Jan 2010
By Tom Brody - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
This disc contains the Piano Concerto No. 1, at 53 min, 19 sec, and the Academic Festival Overture, at 10 min, 1 sec. The following is a review of the Piano Concerto No. 1.

MAESTOSO begins like a squadron of bombers, taking off for the skies, while shards of lightning gash into the ground. Then, at 1 min to 3 min, comes a very quite part. At 3 min to 4 min, the noisy squadron of bombers returns. AT 4 min to 5 min, 15 sec, comes a nostalgic melody, reminding one of a childhood home from the distant past. At 5 min to 5 min 40 sec, the menacing squadron of bombers returns. At 7 min to 8 min 30 sec, comes a tune reminding one of springtime, awakenings, and rejuvenation. The tune could make a fine church hymn. Then follows a quiet episode. At 9 min, 40 sec, comes a shimmering optimistic tune. At 10 min we are treated with a pop-tune, somewhat saccharine in nature. At 10 min, 50 sec, the shimmering optimistic tune returns. But at 11 min, 50 sec, the squadron of bombastic-bombers returns. Watch out!

At 14 min, 30 sec, to 15 min, 15, sec, comes a lilting waltz, reminding me of Tchaikovsky's Christmas pixies. At 15 min, 30 sec, the squadron of bombers returns. At 17 min, the bomber theme returns, but instead of being in the usual minor key, it shifts to the major key, where it is further developed or pursued in a quieter pace. At 19 min to 23 min, we are treated again to the melody of springtime awakenings and rejuvenation. At 23 min, the bombers return and MAESTOSO ends on a noisy note.

ADAGIO is quiet and slow-paced. Much of the ADAGIO comes just one note at a time. For the first 6 min, there is no particular or discernable tune. At 6 min, 15 sec, the pianos get a bit louder and a tune emerges. But the emerging melody soon dissipates and the pianos get softer and slower. At 9 min, 50 sec, to 11 min, a loud, majestic sequence materializes, like Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance march. But this too dissipates. At 12 min, 45 sec, comes a shimmering, sparkling sequence, but this soon dissipates, and ADAGIO ends quietly.

RONDO wakes the listener with a rousing, motoristic tune. The motoristic tune, lasting 50 sec, is one of Brahms' most distinctive melodies. Then comes a lengthy interlude with various interesting and distinctive tunes. At 3 min, 20 sec, to 4 min, 10 sec, the motoristic tune returns. At 5 min, 30 sec, comes an odd tune, sounding like a computer-generated signal from a telephone. At 6 min, comes a mild variation of the motoristic tune. At 6 min, 45 sec, the rousing, motoristic tune returns. At 9 min, starts a quiet aleatory sequence. At 10 min, 40 sec, comes a few odd-sounding arpeggios. The arpeggios, in the oddness, at first made me think that my compact disc had a skip in it. At 11 min, 10 sec, we are treated to a dainty version of the motoristic tune. From 13 minutes to the very end (20 sec in all), we hear a conventional "ending" typical of many Romantic compositions. I could listen to the 2-piano version of RONDO over and over and over again (not every day, but perhaps several times per year).

Silke-Thora Matthies and Christian Kohn, and the Naxos label, have done a great service to humanity by bringing Brahms' 2-piano renditions to compact disc. I have purchased most of the other discs in this Brahms 2-piano series from Naxos, and I am glad that I did. I also suggest the following discs, relating to piano versions of symphonic compositions from other composers:

(1) Gyogy Sandor's 1-piano rendition of Bartok's CONCERTO FOR ORCHESTRA. This is available on the Sony label (MK44526).

(2) Andreas Grau and Gotz Schumacher's 2-piano rendition of Hindemith's MATHIS DER MALER, as well as other Hindemith symphonic pieces. These are available on the Wergo label (WER-6633-2).

(3) Fumiko Shiraga's 1-piano plus small chamber ensemble rendition of the Hummel transcription of various Mozart Symphonies and Mozart piano concertos. These are available on the BIS Records AB, Akersberga label.

(4) Konstantin Scherbakov's 1-piano versions of the Liszt transcriptions of all the Beethoven Symphonies. These are available on the Naxos label.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brahms's First Piano Concerto as a Mighty Piano Sonata 21 Oct 2006
By Hexameron - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Purists may snub this Naxos series that features Brahms's orchestral, choral and chamber music presented as piano four-hand arrangements. But I couldn't think of a more valuable and meaningful project than to record Brahms's own piano duet version of such quality work as the First Piano Concerto. For pianophiles like me, it is a boon to have recordings of Brahms's orchestral music performed by an adept and passionate duo like Matthies and Köhn. However, it is important for any potential buyer to acknowledge that these arrangements do not pretend to rival the original versions, although I could make a strong argument that they often do. Brahmsians seeking to gain further intimacy with his works should be ecstatic over these four-hand piano arrangements, which are Brahms's own and not the careless product of mediocre publishers.

Brahms's D minor piano concerto is arguably less popular than the B-flat major second. It was certainly an object of much criticism in the 19th-century, but concert-goers and classical listeners today recognize it for the masterpiece it is. Few are aware that Brahms originally composed the material of this concerto as a sonata for two pianos. Regardless, Brahms's four-hand arrangement captures the immense drama, power, and emotional weight as much as the original version. The first movement opens with intense trills and a volume of sound quite impressive coming from a single piano. Matthies and Köhn really flex their virtuosic muscle and stamina, playing each melodic climax and subsequent dramatic outburst with fervor and no hints of physical or emotional fatigue.

The second "Adagio" movement while distinctly Brahmsian, emulates late Beethoven profundity. As such, it absolutely thrives on the piano. Matthies and Köhn are poets in their interpretation of this melancholy and sublime movement. I can't even think of an orchestral recording that emits more pathos than this piano performance. Brahms's "Rondo" movement is a virtuosic tour-de-force by itself and even more exciting as a piano arrangement. Even the Beethovenian sequences of trills are more satisfying in this four-hand piano texture.

With the passing of the monumental First Piano Concerto, the last track on this recording, the Academic Festival Overture, seems less exalting. Brahms may have been less serious in the composition of this piece, which he called a "potpourri of student drinking songs," but the piano arrangement of this overture is delightful. The music content is appropriately academic with its emphasis on counterpoint and formal utilization of non-Brahms tunes, most notably the "Gaudeamus igitur." Matthies and Köhn make all of the voices crisp and transparent while adding pianistic brilliance to this charming work.

Bottom line: Having heard all 17 volumes of this Naxos series, I believe this Ninth Volume is the greatest achievement. While Naxos did release Brahms's two-piano version of the D minor concerto (Brahms: Four Hand Piano Music, Vol. 17), I think Matthies' and Köhn's four-hand performance here is more technically perfect, sensational, and hair-raising.
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