BRAHMS 1. Piano Concerto / Zimerman, Rattle

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JOHANNES BRAHMS

Klavierkonzert
Piano Concerto No. 1
Krystian Zimerman
Berliner Philharmoniker
Sir Simon Rattle
Int. Release 03 Mar. 2006
1 CD / Download
0289 477 5413 8 CD DDD GH


Lista de temas

Johannes Brahms (1833 - 1897)
Piano Concerto No.1 In D Minor, Op.15

2.
0:00
15:45

Krystian Zimerman, Berliner Philharmoniker, Simon Rattle

Tiempo total de reproducción 51:21

It's my favorite Brahms No. 1 of all, realizing both the surging passion and the deeply melodic aspects of the score (477 541-3).

This is among the most eagerly awaited concerto collaborations of the year . . . more than its share of jaw-dropping, transcendent moments that are well worth the price of the disc . . .

more than its share of jaw-dropping, transcendent moments that are well worth the price of the disc . . .

Mr. Zimerman plays poetically and with impeccable technical finesse . . .

A new Deutsche Grammophon CD brings Mr. Zimerman together with Sir Simon leading his current orchestra, the Berlin Philharmonic: an ideal pairing of artists for this rhapsodic, youthful yet formidable work . . . Here are musicians inspired by one another . . .

. . . an ideal pairing of artists for this rhapsodic, youthful yet formidable work. The sweep, grandeur, poetic sensitivity of Mr. Zimerman's playing under Bernstein are still vibrantly in evidence, enlivened here by Sir Simon and the Berlin players, who unravel the overlapping contrapuntal lines, bring light to inner shadings and reveal the shape and urgency of the music without relying on inordinately fast tempos. Mr. Zimerman responds with playing that sounds in clarity and nuance yet does not lack visceral power.

Conductor Sir Simon Rattle whips up considerable sonic fury from the Berlin Philharmonic in the introduction . . . The Polish pianist's full-metal technique and impassioned style bring out the taut drama and youthful fire of the tragic, roiling work, with contrasting lyric episodes beautifully poised. Zimerman is at his finest in the interior pages, and with his thoughtful, withdrawn touch matched by Rattle's rapt support, the hushed Adagio is like eavesdropping on a private meditation. Zimerman's thrilling solo work effectively captures the Rondo's grim determination, with a majestic and combustible coda.

Zimerman takes the time to offer details left missing by pianists just carried along by the tide. Phrases glint unexpectedly, giving fresh perspective. And in the big moments -- such as the epic first movement's dramatic trills -- Zimerman is incisive as can be . . . The sound picture is amazingly clean and clear . . .

. . . an astonishingly powerful performance, matched by a recording of equally astonishingly depth and detail . . . Zimmerman is in top form, achieving a rapport with Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic that far outstrips his earlier collaboration in this concerto with Bernstein and Vienna Philharmonic . . . The performance is alive and vibrant, alert to the nuances of Brahms's incredibly dense but rich score. Dynamic contrasts are superbly timed and played for maximum dramatic effect, and forte climaxes shake the room with thundereous impact. Zimerman's piano is captured in realistic balance with the orchestra, yet without sacrificing any of the presence of wide-ranging power . . . an impressive performance and recording.

I gather that this performance has met the approval of many of my colleagues, here and elsewhere, which tends to confirm my own estimation, but is also entirely beside the point!

Deutsche Grammophon's new Rattle/Zimerman rendition with the Berlin Philharmonic ¿ beautiful, probing, and as multifaceted as one could wish ¿ was worth every moment of the wait.

A first-rate interpretation.

Rattle's spacious yet urgent reading conjures great sonic splendour from the BPO players.

Krystian Zimerman ist nicht nur Musiker, sondern auch Physiker . . . und das merkt man seiner Interpretation von Brahms' 1. Klavierkonzert auch an -- eine ganz starke atmosphärische Tiefe, eine fast schon metaphysische Vielschichtigkeit, in der Zimerman dieses Werk durchwandert. Selten -- wenn überhaupt -- hat man dieses Werk so musikalisch erlebt wie hier.

Der Knaller kommt am Schluss. Krystian Zimerman, Simon Rattle und die Berliner Philharmoniker gehen das Finale aus Brahms' erstem Klavierkonzert ganz anders an als gewöhnlich: so was von elegant und tänzerisch, dass man sich vor Verwunderung die Ohren reiben will. Dort, wo normalerweise mit Tiefgründelei und Schwergewichtigkeit ein oft etwas bemühter Kontrapunkt zum wuchtigen, episch-breiten Kopfsatz und dem üppigen, schwelgersichen Adagio gesetzt wird -- wird hier irgendwo zwischen barocker Leichtfüßigkeit und einer Spur ungarischem Kolorit angesetzt. Das klappt famos! Zuvor schon darf man -- wie kann man's anders erwarten von dieser großartigen Besetzung? -- staunen über die technische Perfektion, die Transparenz der Stimmen (nichts, aber auch gar nichts geht unter), Zimermans erhabenes Spiel voller Geist und Tiefe. Der kriecht förmlich in die Tasten, ohne Theaterdonner und Sentimentalität.

Wenn Zimerman spielt, stockt die Zeit, und man kann nicht anders, als den Atem anzuhalten. Dann ist nichts wichtiger als diese Musik, als diese Unmittelbarkeit hinter den Noten. Nur ein scharfsinniger Pianist wie er kann es schaffen, mit einem so oft gehörten . . . Stück . . . in den Bann zu ziehen. Mit Rattle und den Berliner Philharmonikern hat Zimerman aber auch ein Dreamteam an seiner Seite: die klangliche Präsenz des Details, die dynamischen Feinheiten, das kammermusikalische Gespür für Dialoge im langsamen Satz, all das kommt bestens zur Geltung. Vielleicht ist diese Einspielung ein Hauch versöhnlicher, eine Spur weniger provokant, als man es von einem emotionalen Extremisten wie Zimerman erwartet hätte. Dennoch ist sie ein in satten Klangfarben funkelnder Solitär im Klassik-Angebot . . . Diese Aufnahme ist von bleibendem Wert, das Warten hat sich gelohnt.

Jetzt versetzt er alle in höchstes Entzücken, weil er eine neue CD veröffentlicht . . . Genau, überlegt, dabei wundervoll lyrisch, leicht . . . im straff musizierten Rondo-Finale kommt Krystian Zimermans dynamisch straffe Agogik und sein klirrendes Oktavenspiel wirklich beglückend zur Geltung.

Die Ewartungen sind hoch gesteckt -- und werden alles in allem nicht enttäuscht, weil Zimerman und Rattle spürbar miteinander atmen, weil es ihnen nicht um Oberflächenpolitur geht, sondern um ein Solokonzert mit sinfonischen Dimensionen. Zimerman . . . hat selbstredend die Kraft, die Triller des ersten Satzes doninant herauszustellen und wird von der dynamischen Weiträumigkeit des fabelhaften Orchesters sehr sicher und klangempfindsam getragen. Das gewichtige Adagio gerät warmherzig zur tönenden Meditation. Das Rondo-Finale ist gelöst und dramatisch zugleich, pianistisch souverän ausgeformt.

Expectations are running high ¿ and will not be disappointed because Zimerman and Rattle palpably breathe as one, and because they¿re not concerned with surface polish but with presenting a solo concerto having symphonic dimensions. Zimerman . . . goes without saying, has the requisite power to really project the trills in the first movement and is supported with utmost security and sensitivity to tone and timbre by the fabulous orchestra and its vast dynamic range. The weighty Adagio becomes a heart-warming meditation. The rondo-finale is both relaxed and dramatic at once, the piano part moulded with supreme artistry.

22 Jahre nach seiner Einspielung mit Bernstein (DG) nahm sich der hochintelligente Tastenpoet Krystian Zimerman erneut Brahms' "Symphonie mit Klavier" vor. Noch ausgefeilter in der Dynamik, noch inniger im Adagio, noch feiner in den Klangfarben ¿ so überzeugt der akribische Pole selbst im Vergleich mit größter Konkurrenz. Erfreulich auch, wie Simon Rattle den so wichtigen Orchesterpart mit Zimerman verzahnt, ihm bei allem Schwung subtilste Nuancen abfordert. Sehr gut ausbalanciert.

Die Oktavtürmungen im Kopfsatz verlieren nichts an Durchsichtigkeit, die auch im Orchester bis zu den untersten Lautstärkegraden aufblühende Kantabilität im Adagio verbreitet eine Innerlichkeit, an deren Intensität in der jüngeren Vergangenheit allenfalls Alfred Brendel (mit den Berlinern unter Abbado) oder Radu Lupu (mit Mehta) heran reichen. Und das Finale krönt diese Referenzaufnahme mit fast überschäumend jugendlichem Schwung.

Allen Zimerman-Freunden, allen Brahms-Enthusiasten ist eine spannungsvoll-gedehnte, gleichsam in Zeitlupe ablaufende Darstellung des d-Moll-Konzerts anzukündigen . . . Zimerman gelingt es von den ersten melodischen Doppelgriffen an, eine Atmosphäre der vitalen Nachdenklichkeit anzustiften ¿ und durchzuhalten. Im Folgenden entfaltet sich im üppigen, gleichwohl luziden Klangraum der Berliner Philharmoniker ein Klavier-Orchester-Schauspiel von packender Plastizität ¿ mit ungeahnten Möglichkeiten . . .

D'un côté, Krystian Zimerman, pianiste de premier plan, au jeu clair . . . De l'autre, la Philharmonie de Berlin, orchestre superlatif dirigé par Simon Rattle, son directeur musical, musicien inventif . . .

"Siempre pensé que alguien debería aparacer súbitamente ¿ y en realidad lo ha hecho ¿ destinado a dar expresión a nuestros tiempos de la manera más elevada e ideal imaginable. Y ya está entre nosotros. Es Johannes Brahms, y comienza, desde el piano, a descrubrirnos regiones maravillosas", esto lo escribió Robert Schumann en 1853, justo cuando el joven Brahms componía una sonata en gran escala para dos pianos, que luego se transformó en el Concerto no. 1 . . . cuya novedosa interpretación, a cargo de Krystian Zimerman, con la Filarmónica de Berlín, nos demuestra que los elogios schumannianos no fueron infundados.
"Every recording documents a single moment"
Krystian Zimerman plays Brahms's First Piano Concerto

"I always thought", wrote Robert Schumann in the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik on 28 October 1853, "that someone would and, indeed, must suddenly appear who was destined to give expression to our times in the loftiest and most ideal manner imaginable. [...] And he has come. His name is Johannes Brahms. [...] Here is a man of destiny! Seated at the piano, he began to disclose wondrous regions."

Rarely can a young composer have been greeted and welcomed in such emphatic and enthusiastic terms. But the high hopes that Schumann placed in the young Brahms, whom he described as living "in more or less total seclusion", proved a great burden and made life very hard for him.

It was at precisely this time that Brahms began to plan a large-scale sonata for two pianos. He completed three movements but soon realized that - to quote Schumann again - they were "symphonies in disguise", and so it was only logical that in the summer of 1854 he began to orchestrate the first of these movements. It was intended to be a symphony. But he made little headway with the project, perhaps because he was too self-critical. Finally he rewrote the work as a piano concerto, an effortful process that lasted more than four years. In the event only the opening movement was based on material from the original sonata, whereas the second and third movements were both newly composed.

The first performance of the D minor Piano Concerto was planned for 1858, but for various reasons a special instrument that Brahms wanted to bring to Hanover from Kassel was unavailable. As a result, the performance was delayed until 22 January 1859. Brahms himself was the soloist and the conductor was his friend Joseph Joachim. At best, the work proved a succès d'estime, while the second performance in the Leipzig Gewandhaus five days later was an outright fiasco. The music critic Eduard Bernsdorf, for example, wrote of the "barrenness and aridity" of the musical invention, which he dismissed as "utterly beyond hope": "For more than three quarters of an hour one has to endure this retching and rummaging, this straining and tugging, this tearing and patching of phrases and flourishes!"

In describing the work in this way, Bernsdorf had in fact hit the nail on the head, but - as so often with critics - he saw things in a completely wrong light. Brahms's First Piano Concerto does indeed flout all traditional expectations and does so, moreover, not only in terms of its length but also with regard to the symphonic fusion of solo instrument and orchestra. Even the opening movement's first subject, marked "maestoso", is of such keenly chiselled toughness that an audience used to the tinkling blandness of virtuoso concertos was bound to feel nonplussed. According to Brahms's first biographer, Max Kalbeck, the austere severity of this music and especially its wildly irruptive sequences of trills were intended to express the shock and dismay felt by the young composer at Schumann's attempt to kill himself by throwing himself into the Rhine on 27 February 1854. The movement as a whole draws its strength from its unprecedented expressive violence: defiance and rebellion come together here to create a unified mood. This heroic, not to say Promethean, thrust yields only to the broadly singing and lyrical second subject, the almost religious inwardness of which suggests a turning in on oneself.

The Adagio breathes this same atmosphere. Clara Schumann thought that this movement had "something churchlike" about it: "It could be an Eleison." Brahms did indeed write the words "Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini" on one of his drafts, a motto that could be applied to the movement as a whole. The opening is dominated by a serene stillness suggestive of inner contemplation, a mood which in the middle section produces a state for which "ecstasy" is not too strong a term. Minor-key modulations briefly darken the picture and the use of rhythmic contrast introduces a note of urgency, but at the end the music reverts to the cantabile quietude of the movement's opening bars. After this, the bucolic character of the finale comes as something of a surprise. Cast in rondo form, it has a strikingly assertive main theme that at the same time is almost dancelike in tone. A second theme provides a sense of contrast with its songlike, hymnic strains, while the development section at the heart of the movement is conceived as a fugato. A brief cadenza leads to the coda, and a work that had begun in so defiant and weighty a manner ends with a show of delight in its own high-spirited playfulness.

"He is a man of destiny. Seated at the piano, he began to disclose wondrous regions." Schumann's hymnlike encomium of the 20-year-old Brahms could equally well have been applied to the 18-year-old Krystian Zimerman when he won the Ninth International Chopin Competition in October 1975. He was the youngest of the 118 competitors - "so young that my teachers were unsure whether I should enter the competition at all. Even I myself was not especially keen on the idea. It was by no means certain at that time that I would embark on a career as a pianist."
In spite of this, it was not long before Krystian Zimerman had established himself within the front ranks of the leading pianists of his day, even if he has never seen himself as a "concert pianist", still less as an itinerant virtuoso. "However absurd it may sound, giving concerts is almost something of a by-product for me. First and foremost I am a 'music freak'. My real profession is studying music and living with scores." Krystian Zimerman regularly retires from the world to work on his own, a man possessed, turning night into day. "At night, I have peace and quiet; at night, time operates according to different rules; to work at night is fantastic. I suddenly sense this fever, I can't tear myself away from the piano, and the next thing I know is that it's already six in the morning. There's so much to do - and for me learning is a very slow process. I need ten years to prepare a piece properly."

This is also true of his new recording of Brahms's First Piano Concerto. He has listened to more than 80 different recordings of the work in an attempt to find what he considers the right tempo for it: "By this I don't mean a metronomic tempo; rather, it's something subjective, something that I might call the psychological perception of a tempo." This means that the "measurable" tempo may change in the course of an interpretation (and it may constantly be adapted to suit the character of the music), but these changes are not felt by the listener to break up the music, still less to amount to a surgical incision. "Everything must create the impression of a uniform flow."

There is no doubt that for Krystian Zimerman playing the piano is not an artificial or competitive sport concerned only with superficialities but is an inner process repeatedly interrupted by continuous reflection. This process can last for years, even decades, and may be concentrated on only a few works. "I can't help it. Above all, I can't make things easier for myself. At my concerts I play no more than ten percent of the repertoire on which I've been working. And of the works that I play in public, I record no more than ten percent." At the start of his meteoric career, Krystian Zimerman was generally hailed as a Chopin specialist, yet he has continuously expanded and deepened his repertory. And when he played for his famous compatriot, Artur Rubinstein, the latter - also a gifted interpreter of Chopin - observed spontaneously that Zimerman was in fact a Brahmsian.

Zimerman has had an intensive preoccupation with Brahms for decades. He began with the three piano sonatas, then moved on to the two piano concertos. And he has already recorded all these works, the two concertos with the Vienna Philharmonic under Leonard Bernstein. That was a good 20 years ago. Asked what he thinks about these recordings now, Zimerman replies: "Every recording documents a single moment." The conditions in Vienna were far from ideal: "For the recording of the First Piano Concerto I was unable to get the instrument I wanted, as the van that was supposed to bring the piano from Italy was involved in an accident. The instrument that was finally placed at my disposal may well have been good for Mozart, but not for Brahms." Moreover, a video recording was made at the same time as the audio recordings, with the result that the whole concert hall was covered with a material that affected the acoustics. For the new recording - made in the Scoring Stage, Berlin because of its exceptional acoustics - Krystian Zimerman prepared his own piano. As Brahms noted on the occasion of the work's first performance, the nature, condition and individual qualities of the solo instrument are particularly important in this piece.

Werner Pfister