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Competition in Brahms’ Second Concerto is extremely fierce: Presto Classical’s website lists 383 recordings besides this newcomer. Moog and Nicholas Milton – who previously collaborated on a fine disc of Rachmaninov’s Third and Rubinstein’s Fourth Concertos – take an expansive view of the work, running in at around 48-and-a- half minutes overall, three minutes beyond booklet annotator Jeremy Nicholas’ comment that ‘a typical performance is 45 minutes’! There is nothing typical in the opening Allegro non troppo, though I found Moog’s playing a little mannered in places and a touch hard-edged. There is little of the luminous intimacy that Stephen Hough and Mark Wigglesworth recently brought to the music on Hyperion. Matters come into surer focus in the remaining three movements, and the Andante is very nicely done.

I first heard Strauss’ bracing early Burleske for piano and orchestra in a BBC broadcast back in the early 1970s. I was enthralled by the interplay between piano and timpani – the latter providing the thematic material at the start – in this 19-minute scherzo- cum-concerto; indeed, the piece started out in 1886 as Scherzo for piano and orchestra, written for Hans von Bülow, who disliked it immediately. So, too, on reflection did its composer until Eugene D’Albert persuaded him otherwise in 1890, premiering a revised and retitled version under Strauss’ baton and repeating it a little later conducted by ... von Bülow! Moog and Milton produce a vivacious, fleet-footed account that yields little to earlier rivals, such as that by Emanuel Ax and Wolfgang Sawallisch in Philadelphia on EMI over 20 years ago (long deleted but available under licence from Arkiv Music), and are served by excellent sound throughout.

GUY RICKARDS Read the full review on Agora Classica


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