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Andras Schiff w/Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment - Brahms: Piano Concertos is wonderfully rounded and mature / The Guardian

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Arnold Schoenberg called him ‘Brahms the Progressive'. Whilst Johannes Brahms's musical language and formal cosmos were deeply rooted in the past, by burrowing into the music of Bach and Beethoven he brought forth compositional fabrics of a tight-knit perfection that pointed far into the future.

Yet, over years of continuously evolving interpretations, Brahms's oeuvre has acquired an inappropriate heaviness more likely to conceal the fabric of his music than to unveil the subtle intricacies of its ‘developing variations', to quote Schoenberg's term for his compositional method. András Schiff emphasizes precisely this point in his new recording of the two piano concertos with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.

The Guardian - Andrew Clements...."With the present recording we have tried to recreate and restore the works, to cleanse and detoxify the music", writes András Schiff in the liner notes for his new Brahms disc. "To liberate it from the burden of the – often questionable – trademarks of performing tradition." By playing the two concertos on a restored Blüthner piano made in Leipzig around 1859, together with the gut strings and 19th-century wind of the 50-strong Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Schiff's aim was to get to back to the sound and scale of the performances that the composer himself would have expected. One of Brahms's favourite orchestras, apparently, was Hans von Bülow's band in Meiningen, which had just 49 players.
Photograph: Tristram Kenton
 
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