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Johannes Brahms - Piano Pieces Op. 116-119 (1996)

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Johannes Brahms - Piano Pieces Op. 116-119 (1996)

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1. Fantasias (7) for piano, Op. 116: 1. Capriccio - Presto energico
2. Fantasias (7) for piano, Op. 116: 2. Intermezzo - Andante
3. Fantasias (7) for piano, Op. 116: 3. Capriccio - Allegro passionato
4. Fantasias (7) for piano, Op. 116: 4. Intermezzo - Adagio
5. Fantasias (7) for piano, Op. 116: 5. Intermezzo - Andante con grazia
6. Fantasias (7) for piano, Op. 116: 6. Intermezzo - Andantino teneramente
7. Fantasias (7) for piano, Op. 116: 7. Capriccio - Allegro agitato
8. Intermezzi (3) for piano, Op. 117: 1. Andante moderato
9. Intermezzi (3) for piano, Op. 117: 2. Andante non troppo
10. Intermezzi (3) for piano, Op. 117: 3. Andante con moto
11. Pieces (6) for piano, Op. 118: 1. Intermezzo - Allegro non assai
12. Pieces (6) for piano, Op. 118: 2. Intermezzo - Andante teneramente
13. Pieces (6) for piano, Op. 118: 3. Ballade - Allegro energico
14. Pieces (6) for piano, Op. 118: 4. Intermezzo - Allegretto un poco agitato
15. Pieces (6) for piano, Op. 118: 5. Romanze - Andante
16. Pieces (6) for piano, Op. 118: 6. Intermezzo - Andante, largo e mesto
17. Pieces (4) for piano, Op. 119: 1. Intermezzo - Adagio
18. Pieces (4) for piano, Op. 119: 2. Intermezzo - Andantino un poco agitato
19. Pieces (4) for piano, Op. 119: 3. Intermezzo - Grazioso e giocoso
20. Pieces (4) for piano, Op. 119: 4. Rhapsodie - Allegro risoluto

Helene Grimaud - piano

 

I have waited a long time for this. Although Brahms’s four sets of late piano pieces are classics, there aren’t many discs with them all together. Wilhelm Kempff’s recording of all Opp. 116 to 119, made in 1963, is still available on DG Galleria and, in its way, it is irreplaceable, mellow and gorgeous. But Grimaud has her own way, which is every bit as valid, and with a spacious, brilliant modern recording, the sound-picture is altogether different from the Kempff disc. Grimaud is like a fine thoroughbred, every nerve aquiver, and she does a good deal to loosen textures, making you aware of what each note contributes. Yet she is also very natural – she doesn’t strain after effect. In the passionate opening Intermezzo of Op. 118, she gets straight to the point. She doesn’t let out the seams between phrases, for there’s no fat on her Brahms. He’s lean, fit and clear-headed, yet not insensitive – quite the reverse. The sad, inward-looking Intermezzo in A minor, Op. 116/2, couldn’t be more tender or haunting, and it’s the melancholy in Brahms which Grimaud often seeks out, even when it lingers behind the marking ‘Grazioso e giocoso’ in the C major Intermezzo, Op. 119/3, one of the most elusive to capture. There are endless riches of thought and feeling in this playing; technically superb, very lightly pedalled, it makes its points by subtlety and noble reserve. An outstanding disc. Performance: 5 (out of 5), Sound: 5 (out of 5) -- Adrian Jack, BBC Music Magazine

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