Sir Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic are fabulously responsive partners to...
Andrew McGregor 2006-06-10
Any new recording from pianist Krystian Zimerman is a rare event, so there's bound to be deep joy that he's back with a major new concerto recording. Then perhaps a touch of frustration as you realise that it's actually a work he's recorded before: Brahms's Piano Concerto No. 1.
But that was back in 1984 with Leonard Bernstein, and it turned out to be a bit of a mismatch. In the notes for the new one, Zimerman gently distances himself from that previous document, and tells us he listened to over eighty recordings of the concerto to try and nail down the right pulse for the piece this time around.
There definitely has been a meeting of musical minds with Simon Rattle, although perhaps given Zimerman's obsessive perfectionism it results in a little over-absorption in detail at the expense of an overview.
Zimerman is after all a truly remarkable pianist, and in Rattle he has a fabulously responsive partner. The Berlin Philharmonic? Still the Berlin Phil, no matter what you may have read about their relationship with Rattle, and this is music-making at the very highest level.
The recording is not quite as good as these artists deserve, with some strange changes of perspective and a hazy sheen over the whole thing. I have no idea what they mean with the limited edition sticker on the cover; let's hope it's about the packaging, as I can't believe this is a recording DG will be wanting to drop from the catalogue anytime soon.