Gramophone - May 2012 - Written by Jed Distler

Rose offers up Brahms solo works

Over the past few years Jerome Rose has been setting down much of his core repertoire in front of an audience at New York's Yamaha Artist Services for DVD, including works that he's recently recorded on CD. The present DVD offers two and a half hours of solo Brahms, with no less than all of the late Piano Pieces and the youthful F minor Sonata. If anything, Rose plays the latter better in 2011 than he did in his 2007 audio-only recording. The little instances of over-pedalling and of telegraphing loud climaxes have been tempered, without any residual loss of drive or passion in the first-movement development, the Scherzo's swaggering rhythms and the finale's racing coda. The Intermezzo's foreboding funeral-march rhythms are more flexible now, yet manage to sound more insistent. Rose's long-lined, tellingly shaped Andante espressivo also gains in dramatic and dynamic scope, although this may be due to the DVD's superior high-definition sound. The short pieces, too, often reveal Rose at his seasoned best.

Notice Op 76 No 1's carefully contoured imitative writing; and if Nos 2 and 3 are a shade forthright and brusque, No 4's phrases effortlessly ebb and flow over the bar-lines. His assiduous hand-crossings in the Op 79 No 2 Rhapsody's main theme both sound and look effortless, while the Op 116 group stands out for Rose's poetic simplicity in No 2 and his insightful timing and voicing of No 5's strange harmonies. Interestingly, the Op 117 No 1 Intermezzo is relatively spacious and reserved in comparison with the businesslike urgency of the following B flat minor piece (perhaps it's a hair fast for Brahms's Andante non troppo, yet Rose makes it work). Op 119 features a broader, more bass-oriented reading of the C major Intermezzo than usual, an austere, granitic Rhapsody and an achingly drawn-out B minor Intermezzo. It all adds up to a meaty, enjoyable programme. Those who want the music minus the DVD's modest yet effective camerawork and Rose's bonus booklet-notes can obtain the complete audio soundtrack by itself via MP3 download.

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