Julius Katchen performs the composer's work whom he most favored; again, highly-esteemed recordings among classical cognoscenti.
Longtime fans of reclusive Romanian pianist Radu Lupu will no doubt already know his handful of recordings of Brahms' piano music made in the '70s and early '80s for Decca – his recklessly imperious F minor Sonata, romantically dramatic D minor Concerto, inwardly brooding D minor Variations, and richly autumnal late rhapsodies, ballades, and intermezzos. But fans of Brahms' piano music who don't already know Lupu's recordings will be overwhelmed by what they'd heretofore missed. Lupu's full, round tone, his effortless virtuosity, his poetic intensity, and his soulful expressivity combine in unified performances of consummate artistry.
As well as Brahms’ 175th birthday in 2008 inspired these recordings in the “Kunsthaus” in Mürzzuschlag. Ronald Fuchs and Chanda VanderHart play, in addition to the two cello sonatas, six Brahms lieder transcriptions in their original keys. The lieder selected have a special connection to both the Streicher piano and with Mürzzuschlag itself. Brahms played severel of them, including “Wie Melodien zieht es mir” with Hermine Spies, and composed both “Sapphische Ode” and “Der Tod, das ist die kühle Nacht” during his time in Mürzzuschlag.
Is this what Gallic Brahms sounds like? Well, violinist Renaud Capuçon is French-born and French-trained, and pianist Nicholas Angelich, while America-born, is French-trained, but does this make them French musicians rather than musicians who are French? Possibly: Capuçon has the lean, lyrical tone that has been the specialty of French violinists since Louis Capet and Angelich has the lush, lucid tone that has been the specialty of French pianists since Walter Gieseking.
This is Volume 4 in Barry Douglas’s monumental project to record the complete works for solo piano by Johannes Brahms. Each volume has been released to critical acclaim, the first one, in 2012, being seen by BBC Music as ‘a triumph of Brahmsian thought, with playing that gets right to the heart of the composer’. Once again, the album is presented as a stand-alone recital, prominently featuring the C major Sonata, which was Brahms’s first published work. The influence on Brahms of his early romantic predecessors Beethoven and Schubert is obvious here, not only in the virtuoso demands on the performer but also in the opening, which recalls both Beethoven’s ‘Hammerklavier’ Sonata, Op. 106 and Schubert’s ‘Wanderer’ Fantasy.