Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Julius Katchen Plays Johannes Brahms

The American pianist Julius Katchen made his name in the early 1950s and died in 1969, but although he’s generally thought of as a distinguished figure from the last generation, it’s salutary to realise that his career ended when he was only 42. Even so, his legacy of recordings reminds us of his gifts and the breadth of his repertory, and the present Brahms cycle has distinction. It begins with an account of the Paganini Variations that gives ample proof of his assured technique : the playing tells us at once that the challenging variations in sixths (N° 1 and 2 in Book 1) held no terrors for him, and the athleticism here is matched by a fluency in the leggiero writing of the variation that follows. In this work, though, you’re generally made more aware of a keyboard virtuoso than a poet ; there are other performances which balance these two qualities more finely. Tempi tend to rapidity, too, and the piano sound tends to have a hardish brilliance. However, he does bring a gentler quality to the three other sets of variations here, not least in his freer use of rubato and tonal nuance, as witness (say) the serene Variations N° 11-12 in the big Handel set, where the recording from three years earlier is easier on the ear. Here, as elsewhere, there’s a little tape hiss, but not enough to distract.
Poetry is to be found in good measure in Katchen’s playing of the Four Ballades, Op. 10. These pieces belie the composer’s youth in their deep introspection, though the pianist takes a brisk view of the "Andante con moto tempo" in N° 4. The 16 Waltzes of Op. 39 are attractive too in their crispness and charm, and the early Scherzo in E-flat minor has the right dour vigour. The three sonatas are also impressive in their strong, energetic interpretative grasp, though you could wish that the first-movement repeat of N° 1 had been observed. Also, slow movements could have a still more inward quality to convey that brooding self-communion which is so characteristic of this composer — though that of Sonata n° 3 in F minor is pretty near it. That F minor Sonata is spacious and thoughtful as well as leonine, and this is a noble performance, well recorded in 1966.
The shorter pieces are finely done also. Katchen is in his element in the Two Rhapsodies of Op. 79, balancing the stormy and lyrical qualities to perfection. The Fantasias, Op 116, aren’t so well recorded (the sound is a bit muffled). However, the playing is masterly, with tragedy, twilight mystery and storm and stress fully playing their part, and giving a golden glow to such pieces as the lovely E major Intermezzo which is N° 6 of the set and the A major Intermezzo, Op. 118 n° 2. Possibly more sensuous gypsy charm could be found in, say, the B minor Capriccio of Op. 76 but it’s very attractive playing, and the playful C major Intermezzo in Op. 119 is delightful, as is the tender lullaby that begins Op. 117.
Only the first 10 of the 21 Hungarian Dances exist in the composer’s own (very difficult) version for piano solo, and in the others, written for piano duet, Katchen is joined by Jean-Pierre Marty ; there’s plenty of fire here and much to enjoy. Altogether, this Brahms set is a fine memorial to Katchen and a worthy issue.

Source : http://www.gramophone.co.uk/editorial/brahmss-piano-sonatas

Julius Katchen

Works for piano


Cd. 1

Variations in A minor on a Theme by Paganini, Op. 35
1 Book 1  11:26
2 Book 2  8:54

3 Variations and Fugue in B-flat major on a Theme by Handel, Op.24  26:27

Four Ballades, Op.10
4 N° 1 in D minor, Andante  4:55
5 N° 2 in D major, Andante  5:47
6 N° 3 in B minor, Intermezzo. Allegro  3:48
7 N° 4 in B major, Andante con moto  5:35


Cd. 2

1 Variations on a theme by Schumann in F-sharp minor, Op. 9  19:27
2 Variations in D major on an Original Theme in D major, Op. 21, n° 1  16:41
3 Variations in D major on a Hungarian Song in D major, op. 21, n° 2  5:58

16 Waltzes, Op.39
4 [N° 1-8]  9:23
1. B major
2 E major
3. G-sharp minor
4. E minor
5. E major
6. C-sharp major
7. C-sharp minor
8. B-flat minor
5 [N° 9-16]  7:59
9. D minor
10. G major
11. B minor
12. E major
13. B major
14. G-sharp minor
15. A-flat major
16. C-sharp minor

6 Scherzo in E-flat minor, Op.4  8:29


Cd. 3

Piano Sonata n° 1 in C major, Op. 1
1 I. Allegro  8:03
2 II. 2. Andante  5:41
3 III. Scherzo (Allegro molto e con fuoco)  5:19
4 IV. Finale (Allegro con fuoco)  6:09

Piano Sonata n° 2 in F-sharp minor, Op. 2
5 I. Allegro non troppo, ma energico  5:29
6 II. Andante con espressione  6:00
7 III. Scherzo. Allegro  3:54
8 IV. Finale (Introduzione. Sostenuto - Allegro non troppo e rubato)  11:09

Two Rhapsodies, Op. 79
9 Rhapsody in B minor, Op. 79, n° 1  9:20
10 Rhapsody in G minor, Op. 79, n° 2  5:58


Cd. 4

Piano Sonata n° 3 in F minor, Op. 5
1 I. Allegro maestoso  10:42
2 II. Andante espressivo  12:17
3 III. Scherzo (Allegro energico)  4:41
4 IV. Intermezzo (Andante molto)  3:27
5 V. Finale (Allegro moderato ma rubato)  7:01

Seven Fantasias, Op. 116
6 I. Capriccio in D minor. Presto energico  2:00
7 II. Intermezzo in A minor. Andante  3:49
8 III. Capriccio in G minor. Allegro passionato  2:38
9 IV. Intermezzo in E major. Adagio  4:20
10 V. Intermezzo in E . Andante con grazia ed intimissimo sentimento  3:29
11 VI. Intermezzo in E major. Andantino teneramente  4:06
12 VII. Capriccio in D minor. Allegro agitato  2:35


Cd. 5

8 Piano Pieces, Op. 76
1 I. Capriccio in F-sharp minor. Un poco agitato  3:37
2 II. Capriccio in B minor. Allegretto, ma non troppo  3:17
3 III. Intermezzo in A-flat. Grazioso  2:20
4 IV. Intermezzo in B-flat. Allegretto grazioso  2:17
5 V. Capriccio in C-sharp minor. Agitato, ma non troppo presto  3:09
6 VI. Intermezzo in A major. Andante con moto  3:50
7 VII. Intermezzo in A minor. Moderato semplice  2:30
8 VIII. Capriccio in C major. Grazioso ed un poco vivace  3:28

6 Piano Pieces, Op. 118
9 I. Intermezzo in A minor. Allegro non assai, ma molto appassionato  1:51
10 II. Intermezzo in A. Andante teneramente  6:03
11 III. Ballade in G minor. Allegro energico  3:03.
12 IV. Intermezzo in F minor. Allagretto un poco agitato  2:32
13 V. Romance in F major. Andante  4:09
14 VI. Intermezzo in E flat minor. Andante, largo e mesto  4:54

4 Piano Pieces, Op. 119
15 I. Intermezzo in B minor. Adagio  2:54
16 II. Intermezzo in E minor. Andantino un poco agitato  4:38
17 III. Intermezzo in C major. Grazioso e giocoso  1:26
18 IV. Rhapsody in E-flat. Allegro risoluto  4:59


Cd. 6

Three Intermezzi, Op. 117
1 N° 1 in E-flat major. Andante moderato  5:14
2 N° 2 in B-flat minor. Andante non troppo e con molto espressione  4:33
3 N° 3 in C-sharp minor. Andante con moto  5:24

21 Hungarian Dances

Vol. 1
for solo piano
4 N° 1 in G Minor. Allegro molto  2:51
5 N° 2 in D minor. Allegro non assai  3:06
6 N° 3 in F. Allegretto  2:19
7 N° 4 in F-sharp minor. Poco sostenuto  4:14
8 N° 5 in G minor. Allegro  2:10
9 N° 6 in D-flat. Vivace  3:09
10 N° 7 in A Major. Allegretto  1:27
11 N° 8 in A minor. Presto  2:34
12 N° 9 in E minor. Allegro non troppo  1:43
13 N° 10 in F major. Presto  1:52

Vol. 2
for piano Duet
14 N° 11 in D minor. Poco andante  2:10
15 N° 12 in D minor. Presto  2:02
16 N° 13 in D major. Andantino grazioso  1:18
17 N° 14 in D minor. Un poco andante  1:27
18 N° 15 in B-flat. Allegretto grazioso  2:35
19 N° 16 in F minor. Con moto  2:03
20 N° 17 in F-sharp minor. Andantino  2:52
21 N° 18 in D major. Molto vivace  1:14
22 N° 19 in B minor. Allegretto  1:49
23 N° 20 in E minor. Poco allegretto  2:01
24 N° 21 in E minor. Vivace  1:25


Julius Katchen - p
[Cd. 6, # 14-24 (piano duet)]
Jean-Pierre Marty - p, is added

Recorded at DECCA Studio n° 3, West Hampstead, London ; between 1962 & 1965


Melanchthon said...

Cd. 1
Cd. 2
Cd. 3
Cd. 4
Cd. 5
Cd. 6

david said...

Thanks a lot !

Zoltán Levente Gugi said...

Can you re upload this music?
I'm very interested Brahms's music.
Thank You!

Cri said...

Mel, any chances for a re-up? Thx & Merci bien Cri