- Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat major, Op. 83
- Pieces (4) for piano, Op. 119
Magnificently muscular, lovingly lyrical, and deeply joyful, Marc-André Hamelin's 2006 recording of Brahms' "Second Piano Concerto" with Andrew Litton directing the Dallas Symphony Orchestra is a welcome addition to the work's discography. While there have been other muscular performances -- one thinks of Gilels and Richter's -- and other lyrical performances -- one thinks of Arrau and Kovacevich's -- it is Hamelin's joyfulness that makes his recording a distinctive addition as well. There is as much power in his Allegro non troppo and strength in his Allegro appassionato as there is beauty in his Andante and even coy wit in his Allegretto grazioso, but above all it is Hamelin's sparkling tone, effervescent phrasing, exuberant sonorities, and buoyant rhythms that give his performance its distinctive character. Joined by Litton and the Dallas' sturdy but sweet-toned accompaniment, Hamelin's performance rightly belongs among the best recorded performances of the work. And in an entirely different way, so does Hamelin's performance of Brahms' "Four Piano Pieces, Op. 119." His final works for the instrument, Brahms' "Four Pieces" are richly nostalgic, deeply affectionate, and heroically pessimistic, qualities Hamelin expresses with eloquence and sensitivity. Captured in Hyperion's clear, warm, and deep sound, this disc will no doubt please even the most discriminating Brahms fans.