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Brahms: The Piano Concertos / Fantasies, Op 116 CD

4.7 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews

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  • Brahms: The Piano Concertos / Fantasies, Op 116
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Product details

  • Performer: Emil Giles
  • Orchestra: Berliner Philharmoniker
  • Conductor: Eugen Jochum
  • Composer: Johannes Brahms
  • Audio CD (12 Feb. 1996)
  • SPARS Code: ADD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Deutsche Grammophon
  • ASIN: B000001GQY
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 27,728 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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  • Sample this album Artist - Artist (Sample)
1
30
24:14
Album Only
2
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14:48
Album Only
3
30
12:37
Album Only
Disc 2
1
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18:18
Album Only
2
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9:30
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3
30
14:03
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4
30
9:46
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5
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2:10
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6
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3:34
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7
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3:12
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8
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4:21
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9
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2:59
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10
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3:06
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11
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2:15
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Product description

GILELS / JOCHUM / BERLIN P. O.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
There are three great works here- the op 116 Fantasies and Piano Concertos op 15 and op 83. When Gilels played the Fantasies in 1975 in Turku in Finland, he was roughly the same age as that at which Brahms had composed them. He had a lifetime of experience of playing piano at the highest level. He intently produces the musings that Brahms had made using these delicate materials. The piano is not used to dominate, instead the tenderness, delicacy and intimacy of these reflections is brought to the fore. The rhythms and cross rhythms are beautifully reproduced and the structure is notably clear. I just love these three capriccios and 4 intermezzos.
Then, there are these truly great performances of the first and second piano concertos. There is pure power and deep seriousness in the first concerto with immense punch in the trills. The instrumental solos in the second concerto are well-defined and help to create the warmth of Brahms music. When Eugen Jochum was asked about his finest recordings he specially mentioned these Brahms Concertos with Gilels as piano soloist. Buy them.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Still among the greatest performances by a master of the keyboard. Jochum's accompaniment is wonderfully sympathetic.
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Format: Audio CD
Brahms’ two Piano Concertos were recorded by Emil Gilels (1916-85) and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra under Eugen Jochum (1902-87) in 1972, with the pianist recording the seven Fantasias, op. 116, four years later.

Prior to hearing these performances, my preferred choice for the Second Concerto, 1881, was Anda/Fricsay whilst I have always enjoyed Pollini/Abbado in the much First Concerto, written 22 years earlier. I found Jochum and Gilels to be entirely at one throughout both monumental works. At the time of the recordings, both artists were at the height of their powers. Gilels balances a ferocious technique with acute sensitivity, and avoids the fussiness that characterises the 1998-99 Buchbinder/Harnoncourt recordings.

Throughout the performances, one is reminded what a superb performer Jochum was of Brahms’ and Bruckner’s symphonies, their crescendi being shaped with pin-point accuracy. Unusually, but quite properly, Ottomar Borwitzky, b. 1930, is mentioned for his mellifluous cello solo in the later concerto.

Despite the fact that the Berlin orchestra must have played these concertos innumerable times, Jochum generates a feeling of spontaneity as if they are experiencing them for the first time. The same is true for Brahms’ cadenzas where Gilels gives equal weight to power and flexibility.

The Fantasias are a revelation with Gilels playing these as a unified whole and capturing depths that seem previously unexplored by artists as searching as Radu Lupu and Wilhelm Kempff.

The digital mastering, using ORIGINAL-IMAGE BIT-PROCESSING technology [described in the leaflet], was effected in 1996.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The ultimate test is how well does the pianist perform in the first few bars of the second piano concerto?. The degree of sensitivity here is beyond description.
These performances are not only exemplary, but monumental in both concertos. These are recordings to die for. Gilels is the best of the very best. The recording quality too is exemplary. Warm and extremely realistic piano tone, vibrant brass, and a spacious sound.
No true Brahms lover should ever live without these magnificent recordings. These discs are really special.
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Format: Audio CD
Reviewers have accused Gilels and Jochum of being ponderous on this disc. That's understandable, to a degree, given the strong emphasis the performers give to the richness and dark soul present in Brahms' concerti. However, I'm quite reluctant to equate this with being "ponderous". Richness and depth don't imply heaviness, and to my ears, our performers never burden us. It's certain that both Gilels and Jochum incorporate a wistful singing quality; there's always a beautiful lyricism, pleasing in a way quite unlike anything I've heard before. Call it ponderous if you want to, but I'm optimistic.

Let's begin by taking a look at the 1st Piano Concerto. Much of the thematic material was intended to be used as a symphony. One could guess as much, given the towering sense of symphonic structure, especially in the lengthy first movement. It's a dark work, one that delivers the fate that we often associate with the key of D minor. It presents serious challenges to its interpreters, asking for the structural aspects of the work to be felt, but, at the same time, this work has got to be more than menace. I think Gilels and Jochum succeed in their efforts. The Berliners play with their Brahmsian richness and depth of tone (this orchestra is unrivaled in Brahms, after all) and Jochum creates a strong orchestral tone for Gilels while not sounding harsh. Gilels' phrasing is genuinely beautiful, letting light come through the clouds. When I'm done listening to this performance, I still think that this is Brahms at his darkest, but there's no way I can consider it cold, at least not in the face of such interpreters as we have here.

Let's be honest: we all like the sunny 2nd more than the fateful 1st. Where else does Brahms rise to such levels of catchy lyricism while being so majestic?
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