American Record Guide - November/December 2006 - Written by Paul L. Althouse

BRAHMS: Piano Sonata 3; Handel Variations

Jerome Rose-Medici 30102-63 minutes

Brahms's greatest piano sonata with perhaps his best set of piano variations. In the sonata I was struck again and again by how well Rose has gauged the wide variety of style in the piece. The opening has just the right strength and hesitation to suggest weight and effort; the lyrical sections (second theme of 1, II, and IV) have just enough rubato to be tender and touching; the scherzo has just the right spring; and so forth. The best I can say for this performance (and it's saying a lot) is that it is constantly interesting and fascinating. Just to keep myself anchored to reality, I listened also to Kissin's recent recording of the sonata. He has, as we know, Special Fingers; and in complicated, difficult passages, his playing is cleaner and crisper than Rose's. But make no mistake, Rose has more than enough technique to play these pieces, and his playing brings you to admire Brahms rather than his fingers. The Handel Variations are no less fine. The many moods are superbly caught, and the piece holds together uncommonly well. As in the sonata we can note other pianists who have their trills and passage work a little clean­er, but Rose's musical understanding and view of the large picture are as fine as any. His playing commands our interest, so I am happy to recommend this enthusiastically.

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