Brahms

BBC Music Magazine - - Instrumental Reviews -

16 Waltzes; 21 Hun­gar­ian Dances

Hélène Mercier,

Cy­prien Kat­saris (pi­ano)

Warner Clas­sics 9029563666 70:36 mins In their first record­ing to­gether, Hélène Mercier and Cy­prien Kat­saris fol­lowed Robert Schu­mann tran­scribed by Clara with Brahms ar­ranged by Brahms. The two-pi­ano ad­ven­ture con­tin­ues with more of the lat­ter, but fea­tur­ing a twist that’s not en­tirely suc­cess­ful: that is, to in­ter­lace Hun­gar­ian Dances with the Op. 39 Waltzes, nei­ther in or­der. While the Mag­yar would-be wild­ness could do with break­ing up, the Vi­en­nese homage is a string of short pieces that ide­ally need to be heard in se­quence.

There are, even so, some pi­quant con­nec­tions – con­trast­ing strains in the same key (which Brahms was not averse to do­ing within the Hun­gar­ian set as well), ex­tro­ver­sion and in­tro­spec­tion.

The prob­lem is that in nei­ther does the duo go far enough. The gypsy mu­sic is nei­ther wild nor, when needed – in the D mi­nor No. 11 – sen­su­ous enough. Some of the later waltzes, the E ma­jor espe­cially, do charm, but the tintinnab­u­lat­ing up­per reg­is­ter – Mercier and Kat­saris change places be­tween sets – takes too much get­ting used to, espe­cially in the church acous­tic; a drier sound would have been wel­come. And I still pre­fer the waltzes in Brahms’s solo-pi­ano ver­sion, as mag­i­cally ren­dered by Stephen Ko­vace­vich. David Nice

PER­FOR­MANCE ★★

RECORD­ING ★★★

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