Barry Douglas BRAHMS Works for Solo Piano Volume Two

Following the varied programming of Johannes Brahms: Works for Solo Piano, Vol. 1, Barry Douglas presents a mix of early and late pieces to give the second volume emotional balance, and sets a series of short pieces against a monumental masterpiece. Douglas is a thoughtful and eloquent performer, and his Brahms has the hallmarks of serious consideration and introspection; nothing here is superfluous or simply offered for show. The sensitive selection of three Ballades and three Intermezzi to frame the muscular Rhapsody Op. 119/4, gives the first part of the program an internal unity and feeling of logical organization, even though the shifting moods feel as effortless and unplanned as clouds passing on a sunny afternoon. The Sonata No. 3 is placed at the end of the recital, as befits its stature, and Douglas' interpretation gives it the feeling of gravitas and inevitability. Yet it also partakes of the fleeting moods that were carefully prepared in the early part of the program, so Douglas' shaping of this album shows great care in preparation. Chandos provides a pleasant recorded sound that makes the piano sound close enough for intimate passages but big and spacious enough for the grand statements. (Blair Sanderson)

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