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Cat. No. CHAN 10757 Price: £10.5 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 10757 - Brahms: Works for Solo Piano, Volume 2
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Available From: 15 February 2013
Brahms: Works for Solo Piano, Volume 2
This is Volume 2 in our series devoted to the works for solo piano by Johannes Brahms, with the acclaimed pianist Barry Douglas. Since winning the Gold Medal at the 1986 Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition in Moscow, Douglas has established a major international career, and his reputation as a pianist and conductor continues to grow.  
 
Brahms wrote his set of four Ballades, Op. 10 (of which Nos 2 and 3 are included on this album) at the age of twenty-one, and at a time of much personal upheaval. His friend and patron Schumann had attempted suicide and been confined to a sanatorium near Bonn, and Brahms had been thrust into the role of protector and comforter of Schumann’s wife, Clara, while coming to terms with his own strong feelings for her. Reflective of the difficult situation, these Ballades display a deep-felt blend of the dramatic and the lyrical. 
 
A few months before he composed the Ballades, during his stay with the Schumanns in October 1853, Brahms completed a new piano sonata with which he had been struggling throughout the spring and summer of that year. Published as his Sonata No. 3, it would remain his single largest keyboard composition. It unites aspects of his two previous sonatas – the classical features of No. 1 with the romantic, fantasia-like character of No. 2 – and surpasses both of them in virtuosity and structural command. 
 
Brahms’s collections of short piano pieces, issued as Op. 116 – 19, were among his final compositions for piano, and albeit a few of them provide brief glimpses of the old energy and fire, most are reflective, and deeply introspective in character. This was music that Brahms wrote to play for himself, or at the most to a few close friends. In fact, Clara Schumann was the first to see these in their manuscript form. 
 
Reviews

"... this is a rewarding program and I can recommend this disc especially for the Schumann sonata."
Alan Swanson - Fanfare - September/October 2013

“…The sound is wonderfully warm and seductive, with some space between listener and pianist… Sonata 3 has had many fine performances, and this is certainly one of the best …”

Alan Becker – American Record Guide – September/October 2013

                        **** - (Excellent Disc)
Luca Segalla - Musica magazine - September 2013

                    Album Choice
"...the overall shapes of the pieces are clear but the shifting moods within them too. The Steinway piano sound has a corresponding lean honesty ..."
Christopher Breunig - Hi-Fi News - April 2013

“...this is indeed Brahms playing of the utmost integrity and authority ... these are exquisitely shaped performances, never overwrought and most importantly never too fast. He manages to combine a musical line with tempos which allow Brahm’s often densely textured passagework to be clearly audible and with the often orchestral sonorities to be rendered without forcing the tone... The more I listened to this release the more I have appreciated Douglas’s approach: it concentrates one’s energies all the more to hear each work independently ... this cycle looks set to become a benchmark version ... with fabulous sound quality to match.”
 
Nicholas Salwey – International Record Review – March 2013

 “...Douglas superbly draws out the contrasts within each piece, bringing out their individual character... Douglas’s pianism is a rewarding as before: his tone is a deep velvet cushion, the legatos full of affection and the rhythms galvanised with great energy.”

 
Jessica Duchen – BBC Music magazine – May 2013

 

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