Adam Laloum

Brahms: Piano Concertos

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French pianist Adam Laloum won the Clara Haskil Award several years ago, historically an indicator not only of promising careers but of pianists who tend toward quiet, subtle interpretations that reveal themselves over several hearings. So it is here. Laloum makes an ambitious early career statement with his Sony Classical debut, backed by the Berlin Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester under Kazuki Yamada. For one thing, French pianists have traditionally taken on French repertory the first time out, not the big German masterpieces where they have plenty of competition. For another, Laloum plays nothing safe: These are unusual readings of both Brahms piano concertos. You might call them French in style, broadly speaking; there's a lot of piano lyricism, with big virtuoso blasts deployed only sparingly even though Laloum is definitely capable of them. He's stronger in the Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat major, Op. 83, where he weaves his subtle details into larger narratives: sample the substantial opening movement, which hangs together even with much of the detail unfolding at lower dynamic levels. The Piano Concerto No. 1, Op. 15, is of the same kind, but the sweeping momentum of the finale, largely absent here, is going to be missed by many listeners. Nonetheless, Laloum interacts closely and confidently with Yamada and his Berliners, and he clearly establishes himself as a rising talent to watch.

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