Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 1 & 16 Waltzes
Two sides of Brahms the pianist are illustrated with great panache on this thrilling album. Emmanuel Despax’s performance of the mighty Piano Concerto No. 1 never flinches from the torrential ambition and drama of the piece, which features an opening movement that scales the heights with terrific authority. Aided by a beautifully gauged accompaniment from US conductor Andrew Litton and the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the fine French pianist offers an impressive reading that is also alive to the work’s poetry, as a gloriously unfolded adagio is revealed. Joined by his pianist wife, Miho Kawashima, Despax shows the intimate side of Brahms with the 16 waltzes for piano four-hands—miniatures of endless invention and charm.