Friday, April 12, 2013

Brahms : Piano Concerto No 1 on an 1847 Streicher piano

Ronald Brautigam has made a formidable reputation for himself as a specialist in early pianos. He has already traversed the Beethoven, Haydn and Mozart piano sonatas for BIS, and his only lapse to date seems to have been his Beethoven concertos, marred by the utterly insipid conducting of a dull Englishman.

Here he is on a Streicher piano of 1847 playing Brahms' first concerto. The piano is to my ear informed by the Erard and Playels of the day. Certainly, it has the muscle to handle the orchestral balance, and the more singing bass register and faster decay mean that the piano writing comes across as more lucid, less congested. I have always felt that Brahms has an undeserved reputation for thick piano writing, based on the grumbly noises that emerge from a modern Steinway. Just remember that not even Steinway pianos sounded like that when Brahms was alive. Indeed, even the sound of Rachmaninoff's own Steinway reveals a leaner, more precise sound than you hear from modern examples. Leaving you with a feeling that we listen to classical piano music on a piano that essentially post-dates more or less the entire repertoire!

Anyway, here it is. I'm curious to hear what listeners make of it.

Brahms : Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor Op. 15
Ronald Brautigam, [Piano J.B. Streicher, Vienna 1847],
Nederlands Symfonie Orkest, Jan Willem de Vriend

Recorded 5-April-2013, Muziekcentrum Enschede

Download from Rapidshare


  1. Thanks for posting this interesting concert!

    I enjoyed the refined sound of this Streicher piano, but I think it's not so powerful as modern pianos.

    I really appreciate the piano recitals from your blog, do you have more?

    1. Of course I have more! And there are more to come.

      I think that modern Steinways have sacrificed too much for sheer raw power. They are enjoyable to play, in the same way that a large motorcycle is fun to ride, but it can be quite a battle to get classical or romantic repertoire to fit that sound world.


    2. Oh yes, I agree!

      Listenning to centenary pianos is a very interesting experience, it helps you to understand better the composer's concept of sound. Another great example is Andras Schiff interpretation of Chopin pieces on a Pleyel, which was played by the composer.

  2. Could you share this CD in Lossless format ?

    1. This is not a CD! This is a radio broadcast.