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CD Review

Johannes Brahms

Piano Music

  • Rhapsodies Op. 79 (1879)
  • Klavierstücke Op. 118 (1893)
  • Klavierstücke Op. 119 (1893)
Burkard Schließmann, piano
Antes Edition Classics BM-CD 31.9010 DDD 56:25
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Antes should announce soon the next set of discs in Schließmann's Brahms traversal. This one is the latest, completing his look at the late piano music.

The B-minor rhapsody, arriving in the middle of the program, breaks the calm like a maelstrom. It's the most impetuous I've heard; after the rather saccharine middle section (unsuccessful rubato), the return of the exposition is simply massive. This is as close to a "display" of virtuosity as I have seen from the German pianist. I'd like to see his chordal technique applied to Liszt's B-minor sonata. The second rhapsody is chunky Brahms. I've never been fond of this piece; Gould's bony rendition is a disaster. Schließmann's tone makes it fairly palatable.

The late works are all very good. Schließmann captures the melancholy of Brahms' shifting modes, the flitting from light to shadow – the Op. 118 set is especially forlorn. More buoyant is the third intermezzo from Op. 119, whose dancing steps last all of a minute and a half. There was a smile somewhere under that beard!

Copyright © 1998, Robert J. Sullivan