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Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Complete Original Works for Piano 4 Hands, Vol. 1
Twenty-One Hungarian Dances (1852-1869)
Sixteen Waltzes, Opus 39 (1865)
Duo Crommelynck (piano - four hands)
Recorded 1980 (Dances), 1981 (Waltzes), Ghent
CLAVES CD 50-8710 [67.09]
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From the very outset of his career as a young and penniless musician in his native Hamburg, Brahms was passionately fond of Zigeuner (gypsy) music, and his enthusiasm was particularly encouraged by two fellow musicians, the Hungarian violinists Eduard Reményi and Joseph Joachim.

Brahms completed a total of twenty-one Hungarian Dances, which he arranged or composed from existing material, using the piano duet medium. The earliest of these pieces dates from 1853, the year he first met Reményi, while the others were written over a period of several years subsequently.

While the listener is unlikely to want to listen to the entire sequence in one sitting, Brahms's mastery is such that the approach he brings is constantly imaginative. For example, Nos. 11 (track 11: 0.00) and 12 (track 12: 0.00) are both D minor pieces, yet they could hardly be more different, their tempi being Andante and Presto, respectively.

These opportunities are imaginatively delivered by the Duo Crommelynck (Patrick Crommelynck and Taeko Kuwata) who, the otherwise well detailed booklet informs us, died tragically in 1994. An accident would seem the likely cause, but we are not told. Their playing is exemplary, at once clear in texture and unanimous in ensemble, with a good feel for tempo and rubato. These strengths are emphasised by a sensitive recorded balance, and the twenty-year-old recording is particularly pleasing in this remastering.

Like Beethoven before him, Brahms was drawn to Vienna, where he spent the final part of his career. The marvellous set of Waltzes he composed in the mid-1860s came at the very time he was making this move, and they form a sensitive creative response to the waltz idiom which attracted so many composers. These are miniatures rather than substantial individual pieces collected in suite form: the entire sequence of sixteen waltzes is less than seventeen minutes in duration. As such, it is possible to perform the whole sequence or a selection, although this CD makes the latter option difficult, since there is only one track containing all sixteen: track 22, following the Hungarian Dances.

The opening of the sequence (track 22: 0.00) gives a fair indication of the musical style and the players' winning approach. Coupling these dance pieces together is a sensible option for any collector, and the performances are rewarding too.


Terry Barfoot


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FREE SOUND SAMPLES
(minimum 30 secs)

BRAHMS
Hungarian Dance No.1 G minor
CDTn║2 - J. BRAHMS
Hungarian Dance No.2 D minor
CDTn║3 - J. BRAHMS
Hungarian Dance No.3 F major
CDTn║4 - J. BRAHMS
Hungarian Dance No.4 F minor
CDTn║5 - J. BRAHMS
Hungarian Dance No.5 F-sharp minor
CDTn║6 - J. BRAHMS
Hungarian Dance No.6 D-flat major
CDTn║7 - J. BRAHMS
Hungarian Dance No.7 A major
CDTn║8 - J. BRAHMS
Hungarian Dance No.8 A minor
CDTn║9 - J. BRAHMS
Hungarian Dance No.9 E minor
CDTn║10 - J. BRAHMS
Hungarian Dance No.10 E major
CDTn║11 - J. BRAHMS
Hungarian Dance No.11 D minor
CDTn║12 - J. BRAHMS
Hungarian Dance No.12 D minor
CDTn║13 - J. BRAHMS
Hungarian Dance No.13 D major
CDTn║14 - J. BRAHMS
Hungarian Dance No.14 D minor
CDTn║15 - J. BRAHMS
Hungarian Dances No.15 B-flat major
CDTn║16 - J. BRAHMS
Hungarian Dance No.16 F minor
CDTn║17 - J. BRAHMS
Hungarian Dance No.17 F-sharp
CDTn║18 - J. BRAHMS
Hungarian Dance No.18 D major
CDTn║19 - J. BRAHMS
Hungarian Dance No.19 B minor
CDTn║20 - J. BRAHMS
Hungarian Dance No.20 E minor
CDTn║21 - J. BRAHMS
Hungarian Dance No.21 E minor
CDTn║22 - J. BRAHMS
16 Waltzes Op.39




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