Schubert sonatas

Newest Releases

Piano solo and duet
  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett



Buy through MusicWeb for £14.30/15.50 postage paid World-wide.
You may prefer to pay by Sterling cheque or Euro notes to avoid PayPal. Contactfor details

Purchase button


Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Hungarian Dances - four hands (1-10, 1868; 11-21, 1880)
Steven and Stijn Kolacny (Steinway D piano)
rec. DSD, Galaxy Studios, Mol, Belgium, 28 March 2002
2.0 stereo and 5.1 surround SACD tracks, 2.0 stereo CD tracks.
Notes in Nederlands, Français, English, and Deutsch.  Photos of artists and composer.
ETCETERA KTC 5250 [52.27]

Comparison Recordings:
Silke-Thora Matthies, Christian Köhn. Naxos 8.553140
Julius Katchen, Jean-Pierre Marty. Decca 430 053-2
It was this music that made Johannes Brahms a rich man. Those days were long before our current draconian copyright laws. He was then free to write this “Hungarian music” consisting of arrangements of nightclub tunes composed by “Gypsy” performers. Today he would have been sued and forced to share his royalties in ruinous proportion.  Popular music it is, and it should be played with the maximum fun and flourish, which is what we have here, recorded with brilliant detail in SACD surround sound.  As is usually the case , the CD tracks are also of excellent quality for those not owning SACD players (though there is the occasional exception which I remarked up on in other reviews).
It was the very unauthentic nature of these tunes coupled with their immense popularity that motivated Kodaly and Bartok to research the real, Hungarian folk music and enshrine it in their music.  And although Brahms publicly distanced himself from Liszt and the “music of the future” it was Liszt’s own Hungarian Rhapsodies that pointed his way.  Those works were so difficult that only virtuosi could play them, whereas Brahms’ works were within the reach of amateur pianists.
The other versions listed are also excellent in their own way, but simply don’t have the drive, the verve, the fun of this version.  The Katchen/Marty version in particular is in dated sound.  The Matthies/Köln version is part of their fascinating and revelatory complete transversal of the Brahms two piano music; but a perspective based on complete knowledge of an oeuvre is in this case not an advantage because these dances are utterly unique in Brahms’ catalogue.  A future musicologist would easily argue that Brahms did not and could not have written them, which would count all the more against Brahms in any hypothetical plagiarism suit.
Brahms’ character was complex, to say the least.  He was a baroque scholar, was capable of exquisite classical refinement, yet his symphonies are full of primal screams, and he was heard by a friend to be howling like a dog while improvising at he piano.  In this situation we need to expand the envelope, that is, we need this utterly uninhibited performance to stand against the image of the conservative classicist to round out our picture of this vastly great musical personality.  When he subscribed to the Bach Gesellschaft publication fund, he listed his profession simply as “tonkunstler” — musician.
Paul Shoemaker



Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on

Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical


Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Cameo Classics
Prima voce
Red Priest
Toccata Classics

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
Classical Editor
Rob Barnett
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
   Stan Metzger
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

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.