Johannes Brahms sitting at the piano in the music room of his friends, Richard and Maria Fellinger

Wiederkehr ans Leben wiederholt: Gerhard Oppitz plays the complete piano music of Brahms, Part II

As it turns out, the impression that Brahms himself was performing his own piano music at Tanglewood this summer proved to be illusory, compounded of the modest and Brahmsian demeanor of the actual performer, German pianist Gerhard Oppitz, his serious and total identification with the voice of the composer, and a certain hypnotic spell cast by his unhesitating progress from work to work, as if to say “and then I wrote…”. Oppitz’s performances showed characteristics that would be easy to ascribe to Brahms himself: a completely unfussy treatment of details to keep attention on the large structural sweep of each composition, of which he maintained a clear and magisterial vision at all times; a coloristic differentiation between secondary harmonic figuration and foregrounded contrapuntal activity; and a refusal to be brilliant simply for the sake of being brilliant.

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