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Track Listing:

Brahms - Piano Concerto No.2 In B Flat, Op.83 / Allegro non troppo
Brahms - Piano Concerto No.2 In B Flat, Op.83 / Allegro appassionato
Brahms - Piano Concerto No.2 In B Flat, Op.83 / Andante - Piu adagio
Brahms - Piano Concerto No.2 In B Flat, Op.83 / Allegretto grazioso - Un poco piu presto

Maurizio Pollini :

Brahms - Piano Concerto no. 2

Maurizio Pollini
Returns with
Christian Thielemann
and the Dresden Staatskapelle
on Brahms's Piano Concerto no. 2
released April 8, 2014 on Deutsche Grammophon

Acclaimed pianist Maurizio Pollini releases a new album for Deutsche Grammophon featuring Brahms's Piano Concerto no. 2.  He is joined by respected conductor Christian Thielemann and the Dresden Staatskapelle in this all-new recording, continuing a relationship that previous saw the release of a recording of Brahms's First Piano Concerto.  The album is available now.

Many observers spoke of a stroke of good fortune when in June 2011 Maurizio Pollini returned to the Dresden Staatskapelle after an absence of twenty-five years. He had last appeared with the orchestra in 1986. A quarter of a century later his concerts took him for the first time to the orchestra's traditional home: Gottfried Semper's opera house. One reason for Pollini's return lay in his desire to renew his musical partnership with Christian Thielemann, with whom he had first appeared in Munich in 2010. It had been a particularly happy occasion. At that time Thielemann was still music director of the Munich Philharmonic but by 2011 he was music director elect of the Dresden Staatskapelle. Their performance of Brahms's First Piano Concerto was an overwhelming success (a live recording has already appeared on Deutsche Grammophon and won an ECHO Klassik Award in 2012) with the result that all three parties were keen to follow this up by performing Brahms's Second Piano Concerto, not least because the Staatskapelle and Thielemann were planning an extensive Brahms cycle. In January 2013, within months of the conductor taking up his new post in Dresden, their plans were finally realized when the then seventy-one-year-old Pollini returned to the Dresden Opera and once again ensured that the concert was a very special occasion which is caught on the present album.

The combination of Pollini and Thielemann derives its attraction not least from the contrast between two great artists with very different attitudes to music-making: Pollini, a native of Milan, has always been famous for his analytically lucid and technically unassailable interpretations, whereas Thielemann has never made any secret of his predilection for traditional sonorities and for spontaneity and flexibility in music-making. It is presumably no accident that it was Brahms who brought conductor and pianist together in Dresden, for Brahms's works are held, as it were, in a field of tension between "conservative" and the "progressive" elements and have always offered scope for multiple interpretations. The Second Piano Concerto in B flat major op. 83 is a further good example of Brahms's ability to find new and forward-looking solutions on the basis of tradition.

In Dresden the B flat major Concerto has had a particularly notable history. Brahms himself played it twice – in 1882 and 1886 – with the "Royal Music Chapel", as the Staatskapelle was known at that time. Both concerts took place in Semper's opera house. On the second occasion the composer went on to conduct a performance of his Fourth Symphony, which had received its first performance only a few months earlier. By this date, if not before, Brahms's works were a regular part of the Dresden orchestra's core repertory, so much so, indeed, that in 1884 its players made the composer an honorary member of their Society of Musicians. It was in this tradition that Christian Thielemann and Maurizio Pollini performed the Second Piano Concerto in 2013, encouraging the critic of the Dresdner Neueste Nachrichten to comment afterwards on their partnership: "The resolve and self-assurance with which Pollini played here was fascinating. The sound was able to gain in breadth and depth. Christian Thielemann accompanied with great attention and with tightly coiled flexibility. […] Pollini was acclaimed, but time and again the old pro kept pointing at his colleagues in the orchestra – a rare gesture on the part of any soloist."