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.
And again this 4th compilation offers both a selection from current releases and presentations of artists and albums that will be released by Stockfisch Records in the next months. Belonging to these forecasts you can hear two tracks from the new Paul Stephenson album, who already had recorded two CDs for Stockfisch. Furthermore one song by Zebra Sommerwind, the trio around Fiedelmichel-doyen Thomas Kagermann, featuring German (folk-)songs in contemporary arrangements.
This volume in the series seems to have taken a step up, with playing which previously might have been a little cosy now edgier & with more contrast in light & shade. The overall ensemble is excellent, & these are very good Mozart concerto interpretations indeed. Sound quality is up to MDG’s usual high standard, with a well-scaled ambience in Mch, & the 2+2+2 channel setup with height channels works fine in my 5.1 setup, despite my not reassigning the centre & sub speaker.
This disc is part of a Mozart concerto cycle being issued by German pianist Christian Zacharias, conducting the Chamber Orchestra of Lausanne. Several of the discs have been exceptional, and the musicianship here maintains the high level of the earlier releases in the series. The interpretations, however, are a bit unorthodox, so sample well and consider. The audiophile sound from the MDG label continues to be an attraction in itself; the sonics of Lausanne's moderate-sized and heavily acoustically tweaked Salle Métropole concert hall have awesome clarity and depth.