Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Four Hand Piano Music, Vol. 8

Symphony No. 4 in E minor Op. 98 [40.22]
Tragic Overture Op. 81 [13.54]
Silke-Thora Matthies; Christian Köhn (pianos)
Recorded at the Clara Wieck Auditorium, Sandhausen, Germany, September 1996
NAXOS 8.554117 [54.16]


Crotchet   AmazonUK   AmazonUS

Piano arrangements and transcriptions were extremely popular in the 19th century. These included lavish fantasias on operatic and orchestral works made by famous pianists, such as Liszt and Thalberg, in order to display their phenomenal technique. The obvious intention was to make both the artists and the compositions themselves more accessible to a wider musical public. Equally obvious is the reason why the enthusiasm for piano versions of symphonic and vocal works declined: the improvements made during the 20th century in sound recording. Nowadays it may well be curiosity that prompts us to listen to them. Both works on this disc present special problems for the listener as well as the players

Brahms made a number of transcriptions of his orchestral and vocal works for two pianos, of which these two may well be the most technically daunting, and though the brilliant orchestration is missing, neither can be dismissed as ‘Hamlet without the Prince’. The majestic outlines of the Symphony are subtly preserved, and the Tragic Overture retains its power and drama. One can but admire the skill of the transcription and the subtlety of the pianists who play it, but a feeling of loss for the originals is unavoidable. Needless to say Brahms was fully equal to the task of arranging his own music, but it is doubtful whether, had he been able to hear present-day orchestral recordings, he would have bothered.

Roy Brewer

Return to Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.