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’.
Following his recent dazzling Liszt recital (CDA67085), Stephen Hough turns his attention to the finest works of the young Brahms. Brahms's three piano sonatas are early works, culminating with the epic F minor Sonata. Spanning five movements, with dramatic and wildly virtuosic outer movements, and a hauntingly beautiful slow movement (described by Claudio Arrau as "the greatest love music after Tristan, and the most erotic"), this is one of the defining piano sonatas of the mid-nineteenth century.
Gilels had immense physical power and impeccable control, but he was also capable of exquisitely refined poetry and had an acute perception of the lyrical impulse lying behind even the most assertive of Brahms's writing. The firmness of attack and the depth of sound that make his (and the Berlin Philharmonic's) playing so thrillingly dynamic can be offset by the most poignant of delicate gestures. There is undeniable grandeur to these readings, but with those additional qualities of wise thinking, generous expression and artistry of great subtlety, these performances are in a class of their own.
"Amazing recording!!! This one has become one of my favorite versions (maybe even the most). It's wonderfull to hear a soloist and orchestra play together that well; they're all part of one big spirit. This version reveals a lot of details (even the finest), while the big/main line isn't lost at all. (…) From the deapest bass-lines of the basses to the heighest hights; it sounds very natural and clear! Totally recommended!" ~sa-cd.net