Brahms’ Piano Concertos present challenges to even the most seasoned performer, and so it is a testament to the confidence and abilities of the young French pianist, Adam Laloum, having recorded both works together for his Sony debut. Laloum is the recipient of a number of prestigious awards including first prize for the Clara Haskil Piano Competition in 2009 and more recently the Victoire de la Musique Classique (Instrumental Soloist of the Year) in 2017. Adam says about the Second Concerto: “The Second Concerto to me contains […] fantasy, with an extraordinary sense of noblesse and maybe a different type of generosity: it is warmer and more human. Although it is an immense work, sometimes in it [Brahms] talks about simple things and even about humour – always with a lot of tenderness.
What makes these performances stand out is Ott's thoughtful approach to both concertos, eschewing empty display and bringing weight, detail and a range of colours to the solo parts.
In a world full of couplings of Schumann and Grieg's Piano Concertos in A minor, this disc offers three distinct advantages. First and most obviously, it offers an additional work, Saint-Saëns' Piano Concerto in G minor, which brings the disc's total playing time up 78 minutes. Second, it offers up a soloist who's also the conductor, the multitalented Howard Shelley who directs England's Orchestra of Opera North from the keyboard.
This three-disc set of all of the studio recordings of Mozart's piano concertos and sonatas made by German pianist Edwin Fischer between 1933-1947 may elicit different responses from his fans than from listeners not already persuaded of his greatness.