1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A Mixed Bag,
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This review is from: Brahms: Piano Concertos 1 & 2 - Variations on a Theme by Haydn - Tragic Overture - Academic Festival Overture (Audio CD)
This is a 1960s recording of Barenboim (piano) and the Halle Orchestra under Sir John Barbirolli (conductor) playing the two Brahms piano concertos and some bonus items (Haydn Variations, a couple of overtures).
In a nutshell, it's a quite variable and mixed affair. The performance of the first piano concerto is generally excellent; in particular it is probably the best recording of the slow movement available anywhere. Barenboim and Barbirolli really understand the work and communicate that to great effect. The outer movements are also fairly convincing, though a little more power in the first movement would have been beneficial.
The performance of the second piano concerto, however, much more questionable. Although it still contains some impressive moments, these are punctuated by long periods in which both orchestra and soloist visibly struggle to keep things together. At times, such as the end of the second movement, it sounds almost shambolic.
I'm giving it four stars because the performance of the first concerto alone is well worth the price. The performance of the Haydn Variations is also quite good and worth having. Treat the other items (second piano concerto and overtures) as bonus curiosities rather than your main recording of those works (try Geza Anda or Krystian Zimerman for the second piano concerto instead), and you won't regret it.