Brahms / Sonata No. 3 in F Minor / Rubinstein – Reviewed in 2011

This exceptionally rare Shaded Dog pressing has AMAZING sound on side one, A+++, with side two rating a nearly as good sonic grade of A++. I can’t recall the last time I played a solo piano recording that was this transparent and lively. It’s shockingly realistic; this is what a piano sounds like in performance.

Well, almost. Rubinstein’s recordings never manage to convey all the weight of a real concert grand piano — as if any home stereo could anyway — but this recording is still relatively full-bodied. What it is more than anything else is REAL sounding. You will quickly forget that you are listening to a record at all.

Side One

A+++ as described above. Dynamic, lively, transparent — hard to fault except in the lower registers, and it’s doubtful very many copies of this album would have the bass this one lacks. Probably none do, and we find this title about once every five years, so shootouts are not exactly going to be an option for this album.

Side Two

A++ Super Hot Stamper sound. Listen to side one and note how accurate and clear the transient information of the piano is. When you play this side a touch of smear creeps into the sound, making the transients a bit blurrier than the are on side one. A bit of opacity can be heard on this side as well, whereas side one was amazingly transparent. We feel a grade of A++ is fair given those differences.

Wikipedia’s Entry

The Piano Sonata No. 3 in F minor, Op. 5 of Johannes Brahms was written in 1853 and published the following year. The sonata is unusually large, consisting of five movements, as opposed to the traditional four.

When he wrote this piano sonata, the genre was seen by many to be past its heyday. Brahms, enamored of Beethoven and the classical style, composed Piano Sonata No. 3 with a masterful combination of free Romantic spirit and strict classical architecture.

As a further testament to Brahms’ affinity for Beethoven, the Piano Sonata is infused with the instantly recognizable motive from Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony during the first, third, and fourth movements.

Composed in Düsseldorf, it marks the end of his cycle of three sonatas, and was presented to Robert Schumann in November of that year; it was the last work which Brahms submitted to Schumann for commentary. Brahms was barely 20 years old at its composition.