Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 2. Backhaus, Vienna Phil, Böhm

Album review
Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 2. Backhaus, Vienna Phil, Böhm

Backhaus, Vienna Philharmonic, Böhm

Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 2

Label: Esoteric
Media: SACD
Genre: Classical

Sixty-five dollars is a lot to spend on an SACD running around 48 minutes, but trust me, this one’s worth it. Wilhelm Backhaus (1884–1969) was a Brahms specialist with connections going back to the source: as a ten-year-old boy, he heard his piano teacher Eugen D’Albert perform the two Brahms concertos with the composer conducting. Backhaus went on to make numerous recordings of the works himself, including this one of the expansive four-movement Second Concerto in 1967, when the soloist was 83. Yes, compared to a recording from 1939, there’s less technical flair, but the poise and emotional temperament of the playing, as well as artist’s dense and powerful piano tone, serve the music exceptionally well, as does the participation of a top-notch Brahms conductor and orchestra. And the sound! The recording dates from Decca’s greatest period, taped at the Vienna Sofiensaal not long after the completion of Georg Solti’s epochal Ring cycle there. Mastering engineer Kazuie Sugimoto employed an Esoteric D01VU digital-to-analog converter and G0Rb Rubidium Master Clock Generator to create a digital representation of the analog original with no tape hiss, utterly natural instrumental signatures, and the expected warm spaciousness of the venue. Esoteric produces its SACDs in limited quantities, so act quickly if interested.

More Info

  • primary artist, Wilhelm Backhaus
  • primary artist, Vienna Philharmonic
  • conductor, Karl Böhm

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