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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars LIKE NO OTHER
Gould was not too sure about Beethoven and downright contemptuous of Mozart, but about Brahms he entertained no doubts at all. Let me say without more ado that this disc has some of the greatest Brahms-playing I ever heard or ever expect to. If one thing more than any made an impression on me, it was his handling of the central part of the G minor rhapsody. This sequence...
Published on 17 July 2004 by DAVID BRYSON

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Laboured
If you are a big fan of Brahms and you want a faithful and enjoyable interpretation of these works then look elsewhere. There are plenty of other pianists which do a better job for example Kovachevich. Like Gould's Mozart readings, these Brahms readings come across to me as self-indulgent and laboured. In some of his slowest choice of tempi, I found myself willing him on...
Published on 24 July 2009 by maximus


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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars LIKE NO OTHER, 17 July 2004
By 
DAVID BRYSON (Glossop Derbyshire England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Brahms: Ballades, Rhapsodies, Intermezzi (Audio CD)
Gould was not too sure about Beethoven and downright contemptuous of Mozart, but about Brahms he entertained no doubts at all. Let me say without more ado that this disc has some of the greatest Brahms-playing I ever heard or ever expect to. If one thing more than any made an impression on me, it was his handling of the central part of the G minor rhapsody. This sequence is in a uniquely Brahmsian mood and tone, like the passages marked 'tranquillo' in the middle of the finale of the second symphony and in the slow section of the tragic overture. None of these are lyrical in style and Brahms doesn't actually say 'tranquillo' here in the rhapsody, but the feel is the same. The one thing I can put my finger on explicitly is the way Gould gives the right prominence to the monotonous triplet accompaniment, but there's more to it than that, and as the scripture has it 'the hair of my flesh stood up'.
Except in the two rhapsodies, Gould uses the sustaining pedal a great deal and to great effect. The first ballade made an impact right away. It's taken at a fair tempo for 'andante', just slower than I'm used to, and very emotional and theatrical. The other three don't lend themselves to the same kind of treatment, but my impression in all four was much more 'personal' than I get from Katchen or Michelangeli. There is a fair amount of rubato, but not as much as he makes it seem, if that makes sense. In the two rhapsodies the style of playing is distinctly different from the rest - less pedal and very little latitude in the tempo. This suits the B minor very well, I found. The G minor is taken at a fairly deliberate pace, and no wonder considering the composer indicates 'non troppo allegro'. As a rule I am no stickler for the observance of repeats, but this G minor rhapsody is so marvellously done that longed to hear the first section done again, and there was nothing else for it but just to repeat the whole thing.
By the end of the first disc I was beginning to suspect that I was going to find nothing eccentric or perverse in the entire recital. I needn't have worried. Gould becomes a little more wilful in the selection of ten intermezzi, but there was only one that I simply couldn't take. Oh the poor A major piece from op 76! What did it do to deserve this? It is one of my favourites of the lot, and it has more ways of perming 3 against 2 in the rhythm than I would otherwise have thought possible. I was a fair way into it before I could even recognise what I was listening to. Katchen always seemed to me a little unadventurous in his playing of it, but I shall go back to his account with relief not to say desperation after the mauling Gould dishes out. Elsewhere Gould's originality wins me over even when I'm used to a different approach. The B minor that stands first in op 119 is marked 'adagio', and both Katchen and even more so Serkin understand this as a really slow adagio. Gould made me think. Adagio in Brahms seems to vary in its meaning. The last section of the alto rhapsody is adagio but it must not be dragged, and one of the best performances I ever enjoyed of the slow movement of the violin concerto was by Kramer who took a very flowing tempo indeed. Again the second E major from op 116 (also adagio) is given a fanciful interpretation that absolutely delighted me, although I continue to admire the more normal manner of Kissin. The B flat minor is more low-key and and 'romantic' than in Horowitz's typically alert reading that I shall always love, but I find I can take it either way. The great A major from op118 is the last piece here, and I was gratified to hear Gould handle the middle section in much the way I try to do it myself. He makes the repeat (non-negotiable in this instance) and at the second time round he brings out the lower melody - indeed throughout the whole recital his voicing of those very Brahmsian inner parts is a consistent pleasure. In the E flat minor, surely one of the greatest things in the whole literature of the piano, his performance is quite awesome, and nothing short of this will ever satisfy me again. My own idea of the left-hand figuration in the middle section is staccato with very little pedal, which is not how Gould does it. I haven't lost my hankering for that, but until I hear it done like that by a player of less ill repute than myself I shall have to take Gould as my point of reference.
'This nut is a genius' was Szell's famous summing-up of Gould. The overwhelming impact of these two discs is of sheer raw greatness. The recorded sound is really very good, and if you can put up with the liner-note you will be able to read what it has to say not only in French and German as well as English, but also in Italian. The music has to go on to a second disc, although it means that each disc contains only just over 40 minutes' worth each. If it had been 4 minutes each of this quality I would still have wanted the set.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Laboured, 24 July 2009
By 
maximus (manchester, uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Brahms: Ballades, Rhapsodies, Intermezzi (Audio CD)
If you are a big fan of Brahms and you want a faithful and enjoyable interpretation of these works then look elsewhere. There are plenty of other pianists which do a better job for example Kovachevich. Like Gould's Mozart readings, these Brahms readings come across to me as self-indulgent and laboured. In some of his slowest choice of tempi, I found myself willing him on to play a little faster and not to lose the sense of phrasing and where the music is going. It sometimes feels like a collection of loosely connected chords as opposed to flowing intermezzi. I admire Gould for his Bach interpretations and have quite a few on CD, but I regret getting into his Brahms and other CDs where he has done Mozart or Wagner. Sorry, not for me. at least the price isn't high so it shouldn't feel like too much of a waste of money if you feel adventurous. Listen to the samples on amazon mp3 site however, before you commit a purchase the CD or full mp3 tracks.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Brahms, 10 Nov 2008
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Scriabinmahler (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Brahms: Ballades, Rhapsodies, Intermezzi (Audio CD)
This is one of my favourite GG Editions. Few pianists can match his super-sensitive touch and ethrial rendition of Brahms' Intermezzi. Only problem I find is that he plays some of the pieces too fast. For example the most beautiful intermezzo in A, Op.118 Nr2 is outrageously fast. Pogorelich plays the work beautifully with noble poise and delicacy.
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Brahms: Ballades, Rhapsodies, Intermezzi
Brahms: Ballades, Rhapsodies, Intermezzi by Johannes Brahms (Audio CD - 1993)
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