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Emmanuel Ax's performances of the Brahms Piano Concertos were highlights of the 2011 Proms: enthralling from the start.
The B flat major concerto has long been one of my Desert Island Discs, and Emil Gilels with Jochum and the Berlin Phil my favourite recording. Sadly the age of the latter means that the sound is not entirely flattering to the orchestra - and that is want prompted me to seek an additional version on CD.
Having loved Ax's playing at the Proms, I turned to his 1990s recordings and was not disappointed. The detail, the subtlety and the sheer poetry he offers makes this double CD a set to cherish. He is given fine support from his Proms partner Bernard Haitink in No 2 and from James Levine in No 1.
The consummate professional, 'Manny' Ax gives a great performance of both concertos and especially no 2. Ably accompanied by conductors who are sensitive to the ideal balance between pianist and orchestra. Excellent recordings too. Go out and buy!
Both concertos are outstanding - the playing and the recording. Brahms no 1 concerto is a favourite of mine but I think Emanuel Ax's interpretation of no 2 is just slightly better. The extras are a delightful bonus. All in all a very satisfying disc and a worthy place in any collector's library. This is classical piano music of the highest quality.
I ordered this disc after watching Emanuel Ax on TV playing the Brahms at this year's Proms. I've heard his discs on radio but this was the first time I'd seen him playing. It's not often I can 'lose myself' when watching a concert on television - too many camera angles and visual distractions, but this concert was the exception - I lost myself completely in the music. His touch on the keyboard appears so light and effortless that he barely seems to be touching the keys, but the sound he creates is sublime - his touch is so light that I'm sure he'd make a fantastic pastry cook - perhaps he is!! Exquisite - I'll be buying more of his discs.