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Brahms: 21 Hungarian Dances

At the age of 18, Johannes Brahms was asked to tour with renowned Hungarian violinist Eduard Hoffman . Brahms was drawn to the music which Hoffman played, a combination of gypsy music and traditional "classical music.  So it came as little surprise when he created two volumes of Hungarian dances, first for solo piano, then taking advantage of the four-hands technique.  The Kantorski-Pope Duo performs all 21 of these Hungarian Dances.

The Peabody Institutes' Dean of Academic Affairs, Paul Matthews, put it well when he wrote:

"By not giving this work an opus number, Brahms himself may have inadvertently suggested that these dances are less serious. Only fifty years after their publication, one would-be wit suggested the Hungarian Dances were only good for a showy display of technique. Fortunately, the Kantorski-Pope Duo takes a more reverential approach in their presentation. Their playing suggests the communal and mutually respectful playing Brahms imagined when he performed the work with Clara Schumann. Moreover, the keen sense for motion mediates some of the extremes of earlier recordings and the sensibilities of the modern listener. In all and in sum, this is a serious presentation of serious music and long overdue."

Our quick pick this week is The White Election a cycle of 32 songs by Gordon Getty on the poems of Emily Dickinson.  Soprano Lisa Delan performs with pianist Fritz Steinegger on the PentaTone Classics label

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