International Piano - March/April 2012 - Written by Julian Haylock

Resplendent Brahms from Jerome Rose

Brahms Piano Sonata no.3. Piano pieces opp.76, 79 & 116–119.

Jerome Rose possesses the ideal sonority for Brahms – seductively rich-toned, with leading voices clearly delineated – yet in the F minor Sonata he reminds us that this is the thrilling brainchild of a burgeoning young genius, not a product of his portly middle age. This is particularly felt in the Andante espressivo second movement, which flows with the infatuating freshness of a youthful mountain stream, while the symphonic exuberance of the outer movements emerge as compelling, organic wholes.

In the later ‘miniatures’, Rose’s clear-sightedness allows us to experience more than usual the music’s temporal compression – these are musical worlds in which every note truly counts. There is a divine simplicity about Rose’s playing – no matter how complex and demanding Brahms’s textural writing becomes, he retains his almost impossibly relaxed finger-action, ensuring that nothing is allowed to cloud the supreme clarity of musical thought. In this respect there are fascinating parallels with Wilhelm Kempff’s sparingly-pedalled, crystalline lucidity, yet Rose evinces an inner, poetic glow that is closer in projection and feeling to Radu Lupu.

Most compellingly of all, Rose refuses to be generically pigeon-holed. Where others adopt a kind of all-purpose musing intimacy in the more introspective intermezzi, Rose is always acutely sensitive to Brahms’s instructions, ensuring that op.118 no.2 is both tender and flowing, while giving extra space to the unbearably poignant Adagio that opens op.119. The excellent picture and sound quality of the DVD version becomes still more resplendent via the sublime clarity of Blu-Ray.

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