Performing a mainstay of the orchestral repertoire
in an arrangement for piano duet at home is one thing, but issuing
it on the open market raises all sorts of questions. Certainly,
the curiosity value may well convince some collectors to part
with a fiver, but whatever the talents of the Matthies-Köhn
duo, they cannot erase memories of the Brahmsian original.
In the event, these pianists provide neat, adequate
performances that only occasionally take off and immerse the listener
in the spirit of Brahms. So in the Symphony, the first movement
is neat and accurate, but more imagination is needed to compensate
for the generally monochrome colours. The whole experience, in
fact, serves as a salutary reminder of the importance of scoring
in Brahms’ symphonic world.
It is only in the third movement that they take
off to any extent. Here all is exuberant (and the pianistic imitation
of a triangle is great fun!), and the success of this movement
leads on to a sensitive and carefully considered finale. There
is no denying this version of the Fourth is worth hearing, but
whether it is worth hearing more than the once is up for discussion.
The Tragic Overture is given an appropriately
dramatic reading, with fortissimo chords nicely together. Is it
actually that this is more successful, or was it that my ears
were getting used to the whole idea?. Whatever the case, there
is no doubting the dedication of the performers (Köhn is
after all editor of the Bärenreiter Edition of the Brahms
four-hand piano music). Just don’t expect any massive revelations.
review by Roy Brewer