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Together onstage at the Stadthalle Erlangen in 1991, Daniel Barenboim and Sergiu Celibidache offered us a moment of pure Brahmsian magic. On this evening, their considerable talents led to an all-time great performance of the Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major, one of the crown jewels of the repertoire imbued with its own particular brand of Romanticism, composed by Brahms at age 45, nearly 20 years after his first piano concerto.
Unlike that youthful work, the Piano Concerto No. 2 met with a rapturous reception on its 1881 premiere, which was followed by a widely-heralded tour across Europe. Its four-movement structure contains a Scherzo, unusual for a concert work, following Brahms's first abandoned attempt to include one in his 1877 Violin Concerto.