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Piano Music 4 Hands Vol. 16


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1. Sostenuto Assai - Allegro Ma Non Troppo
2. Scherzo: Molto Vivace
3. Andante Cantabile
4. Finale: Vivace
5. Hamlet Overture, Op.4
6. No.1
7. No.2
8. No.3
9. No.4
10. No.5
11. No.6
12. No.7
13. No.8
14. No.9
15. No.10
16. No.11
17. No.12
18. No.13
19. No.14
20. No.15
See all 25 tracks on this disc

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 2 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Schumann's Piano Quartet is magnificent - but the rest is mediocre March 12 2007
By Hexameron - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is the first volume of the Brahms Four Hand Piano Music to explore arrangements of works from other composers. I wasn't deterred in the least from buying it on these grounds, though, because I knew the Schumann quartet would be worthy. In fact, I counted on it. And what's more, I've never even heard Schumann's E flat major Piano Quartet. But as I've enjoyed all of Brahms's chamber music in piano duet form (having never heard the original chamber versions, too), I felt confident that Matthies and Kohn would apply their customary musicality and pianistic skill to this Schumann work. And they do.

I may not be the most qualified to speak on behalf of this Piano Quartet since I've never even heard it before. But Schumann's music, Brahms's astute piano arrangement, and the energetic duo have all contributed to making a memorable aural experience. The first movement resembles Beethoven with its classical fire and sudden dominant chords. The music material is melodic and engaging; in my estimation, the piano duet plays with finesse and good taste. In the Scherzo movement, I was quite surprised by the Mendelssohnian flurries and fast-paced accompaniment. Even without hearing the original version I feel the Scherzo theme is all the more brilliant when played with four hands. The heart of this work (and also the most heart-felt) is in the ravishingly tender Andante cantabile. This is one of the most emotionally arresting movements I've heard from Schumann. Matthies and Kohn pour their hearts out and enhance the passionate and introspective mood of the movement. Although not as stirring as the previous movements, the Finale still manages to exhilarate with its busy passagework and vivacity. I also feel the piano duo accentuates the polyphony and frantic propulsion of the music quite well.

Unfortunately, Joachim's Hamlet Overture and Schubert's Landler are not as pleasing or musically interesting as the Schumann work. Joachim's Hamlet Overture is certainly dramatic and evocative of Shakespeare's play. At times, I felt I heard an Ophelia theme and a madness of Hamlet theme. And the beginning started out with promising angst and foreboding. Indeed, there were occasional moments of tension and climactic drama. Unlike Liszt's intelligent symphonic poem, though, Joachim's overture is undermined by his own indiscernible and intrinsic ideas that tend to meander about. There are some outstanding moments, but they are usually forgotten after listening to the connecting material, music that dwells in murky waters.

The least interesting aspect of this recording must be the Twenty Schubert Landler. I don't feel comfortable thinking ill of anything Schubert wrote, but I'm afraid the Twenty Landler are trivial and skimpy pieces. Most are never over a minute long and seem rather stale, light, and uninteresting. I suppose they were meant to be filler for the recording, but if indeed Brahms made a piano arrangement of the Scherzo from Schumann's Piano Quintet in E flat major, as Keith Anderson says in the liner-notes, I think Matthies or Kohn should have recorded it alongside the piano quartet of the same key. I have no doubt this disc would have then garnered a 5-star rating.

Bottom line: Brahms's Four Hand arrangement of Schumann's Piano Quartet Op. 47 is radiant and beautiful; the performers play with spirit and pianistic prowess. Honestly, one should really buy this CD for the piano arrangement of this piano quartet and keep their expectations low regarding the Joachim and Schubert pieces.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Brahms's Four-Hand Arrangement of Others' Music Sept. 1 2006
By J Scott Morrison - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
With Volume 16 of this marvelous series of Brahms four-hand music we come to a CD that contains no original music by Brahms. It comprises arrangements of others' music: Schumann's Piano Quartet, Joseph Joachim's 'Hamlet' Overture, and twenty Ländler by Schubert. And, sad to say, none of this music is as interesting as much of the music on previous releases in the series although it is all played marvelously by Silke-Thora Matthies and Christian Köhn.

Schumann's Piano Quartet in E Flat, Op. 47, has never enjoyed quite the popularity of his Piano Quintet in the same key, but it is nonetheless a marvelous piece and is by far the most interesting music on this CD. It is assumed that Brahms arranged it for piano duet so that amateurs, in the time before recordings, could play it at home. (One also guesses that he did so as a favor to the Schumanns as by the time he made the arrangement Schumann was confined in an asylum where he would die a year or so later.) It is skillfully done but frankly it seems to me that it loses something in the translation although Matthies and Köhn make the best possible case for it.

Joachim's 'Hamlet' Overture is a dull affair. It is a somber piece that sometimes achieves dramatic effect but for the most part it is an inward work that has an undistinguished chromatic main theme that, although put through the obligatory contrapuntal hoops, does not amount to much.

The twenty Schubert Ländler (from D.366 and D.814) are altogether lighter and technically easier than the foregoing material. They are pleasant and one can easily imagine two only moderately skilled pianists enjoying playing them. But they are not really concert material and I found my interest waning rather drastically.

It would appear that we are reaching the bottom of the barrel as regards Brahms's voluminous piano-duet works. Indeed, it is possible -- if one reads Grove's on the subject -- that this is the last or next-to-last of the series. All in all this has been a significant contribution to Brahms recordings and I treasure them all, if this one somewhat less so.

Scott Morrison


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