Paul Lewis / Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra / Daniel Harding JOHANNES BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 1 - Ballades Op. 10

Brahms planned his First Piano Concerto as a sonata for two pianos, but the music’s stormy grandeur soon needed bigger forces. He dreamed of composing a symphony, but the Beethoven’s shadow loomed too large, so the concerto plays out a massive wrangle: an intense, self-questioning young artist meets the corpulent orchestral sound of Brahms’s future symphonies. Some pianists go one way or the other in interpretation; Paul Lewis masterfully spans both. His account has clarity, muscle and steely pride, but also intimacy, vulnerability and volatility: the combination is magnetic. Conductor Daniel Harding goes for full-out symphonic bulk from the start and his Swedish orchestra sounds hearty and brooding – fuzzier-edged than Lewis’s metallic attack, but generally the partnership works. As a bonus, Lewis plays Brahms’s four Ballades Op 10; quiet, urgent and full of singing lines. (

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