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Brahms, Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor, Op. 15; Variations on a Theme of Schumann, Op. 23; pianist Andras Schiff, Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by Georg Solti (London 425 110). This is a full-blooded and sinewy performance of Brahms' youthful, striding and sometimes angry First Concerto, until Schiff makes his entrance, that is. As usual, he plays impeccably, but most of the time he seems quite at odds with Solti's notions of the heft and density of the music. Solti joins Schiff at the keyboard for the four-hand piano Variations, Op. 23, where they are in complete agreement. -- Herman Trotter
David Popper, Romantic Cello Favorites, 20 concert and encore pieces, cellist Janos Starker, pianist Shigeo Neriki (Delos DE 3065). Although few of these 20 short pieces (all under five minutes) rise above what we call salon weight, there is still much charm and innate musicality in the works, and towering artistry and technique in Starker's playing. David Popper (1843-1913) was greatly admired, first as a blazing cello virtuoso and later as a leading teacher. Popper did have a deeper side, as expressed in his "Requiem for Three Cellos," but the miniature was his forte, and Starker is an ideal interpreter, although you may not want to play all 20 of these pieces at one sitting. -- H.T.

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