BRAHMS PIANO CONCERTO NO. 2 / TRAGIC OVERTURE
... an emotional palette that endears all listeners to this concerto – especially when the piano solo is mastered with such bravura and passion as by the phenomenal pianist Yefim Bronfman.
Lucky are the horn, cello and clarinets when a conductor decides to perform Brahms' Piano Concerto no. 2 in B-flat major; in this work, the piano plays a role reminiscent of a nobleman showing visitors his palace and stopping to introduce some of his best friends as he passes them on his tour. These solo inserts are so perfectly embedded in the fabric of the work that they evoke a Mozart Sinfonia concertante – even though they do give way to the piano, which must be ready at every moment to carve out its phrases of exquisite beauty. These can be hearty as in the second movement, a Scherzo; moving and serene in the Andante; bright and light-footed in the closing Allegretto grazioso. It is an emotional palette that endears all listeners to this concerto – especially when the piano solo is mastered with such bravura and passion as by the phenomenal pianist Yefim Bronfman.
The Tragic Overture was written in 1880, at the same time as the Academic Festival Overture, its lighter, bubblier counterpart. Commenting on the performance by the Cleveland Orchestra under Franz Welser-Möst, the city's daily "The Plain Dealer" hailed the "high contrast, lusty energy and a tight grip on the score's inherent drama."
Having proven themselves as masters of Romanticism thanks, above all, to their Bruckner recordings (also recorded for Clasart), the Cleveland Orchestra and its music director Franz Welser-Möst now show that they are perfectly equipped to tackle the Brahms canon with all of its raw and polished intricacies, its invigorating and dynamic power. The concert was recorded in Cleveland's exquisite Severance Hall, a combination of styles including Art Deco, Egyptian Revival, Classicism and Modernism.