Antes should announce soon the next set of discs in Schließmann's Brahms traversal. This one is the latest, completing his look at the late piano music.
The B-minor rhapsody, arriving in the middle of the program, breaks the calm like a maelstrom. It's the most impetuous I've heard; after the rather saccharine middle section (unsuccessful rubato), the return of the exposition is simply massive. This is as close to a "display" of virtuosity as I have seen from the German pianist. I'd like to see his chordal technique applied to Liszt's B-minor sonata. The second rhapsody is chunky Brahms. I've never been fond of this piece; Gould's bony rendition is a disaster. Schließmann's tone makes it fairly palatable.
The late works are all very good. Schließmann captures the melancholy of Brahms' shifting modes, the flitting from light to shadow – the Op. 118 set is especially forlorn. More buoyant is the third intermezzo from Op. 119, whose dancing steps last all of a minute and a half. There was a smile somewhere under that beard!
Copyright © 1998, Robert J. Sullivan