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.
Barry Douglas returns for the highly anticipated third volume in his series devoted to Brahms’s solo piano music, the first two volumes having been met with widespread critical acclaim. Of Vol. 2, International Record Review wrote, ‘this is indeed Brahms playing of the utmost integrity and authority… this cycle looks set to become a benchmark. The selected Intermezzi performed here come from the collections of short piano pieces which Brahms published in 1892 – 93, his last works for piano. A sense of wistful, melancholic reflection pervades these exquisitely crafted masterpieces of Brahms’s late maturity.
Following the ‘Gramophone Record of the Year’ award-winning set of the Brahms Symphonies, Riccardo Chailly turns his “rare talent for transforming music ripe for rediscovery” to Brahms’s Serenades. This exquisite recording renews these unjustly neglected and rarely performed works in performances of “trademark clarity” (Gramophone Record of the Year 2014) and marks the first Decca recording of these works since Kertesz in 1968.
Bold, lush, and exquisite piano quartets by Mahler, Schumann, and Brahms, this core classical album presents some of the finest pieces written in the romantic era. For this chamber music album, Daniel Hope has put together a stellar cast, including CMS Artistic Directors David Finckel and Wu Han, as well as viola legend Paul Neubauer.
This release sees Murray Perahia returning to Brahms after a significant series of excellent Bach recordings for Sony Classical. His 1991 Sony recording of the Sonata No.3 has an assortment of Intermezzos and Rhapsodies as a filler, but this new disc sees Perahia taking the later opus numbers head-on, working up to them chronologically via the Handel Variations and Rhapsodies Op.79 which, as Katrin Eich says in her booklet notes, each represent an ‘end point’ at certain stages in Brahms’ compositional output.
There is a recurrent theme running through the program presented by the Dena Piano Duo in this production; all four composers and works have a particular relationship to Edvard Grieg. Both Johannes Brahms and Camille Saint-Saëns were friends of Grieg, and in several of his works the inspiration Grieg gained from his colleagues in Vienna and Paris is easy to hear. In between the works of Brahms and Saint-Saëns the Dena Piano Duo play two Norwegian works they have commissioned from the composers Wolfgang Plagge and Terje Bjørklund with this recording in mind.