BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 2 / Pollini, Thielemann 4792384

Sonically speaking, the present performance's warm ambience and natural soloist/orchestra balance resembles the 1977 Vienna traversal . . . Pollini's gold standard technique remains impressively commanding . . . the first movement lacks nothing in power and tonal heft, while Pollini imbues the magical trills and broken octaves (beginning at bar 335) with newfound inflections and shadings . . . The Allegro grazioso unfolds more spontaneously; listen, for example, to Thielemann speeding up when the orchestra answers the main theme, and other whimsical yet undisruptive adjustments . . . In short, Pollini's third Brahms B flat confirms his authoritative musicianship.

. . . [the] unity of purpose makes this concerto hold together extremely well, and the pianist interacts with the ensemble as much as he stands apart as soloist, so there is a conscious attempt to show how Brahms wove the piano into his textures and integrated all the parts as an organic whole. Yet Pollini's thoughtful and controlled playing is always clearly audible, and Thielemann gives him considerable freedom to use rubato and set the pace where it enhances the expression. Overall, the sound of the recording is rich and full . . .

The orchestral playing is generally fantastic -- the ever-dependable Thielemann, who has already proved himself a first-rate Brahmsian, coaxes a wonderful sound -- while Pollini is [charismatic and forceful and never less than intelligent] . . . A distinguished addition to Pollini's discography . . .